California walnuts offer a unique flavor and texture, making them wonderfully versatile for both savory and sweet food product applications.
Meanwhile, California walnuts also are a whole food contributing many beneficial nutrients to the diet. For example, walnuts are the only nut to contain a significant amount of the plant-based omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grams / ounce of English walnuts or 9g in 100g quantity). Walnuts also offer protein, fiber and a good source of magnesium.
The California Walnut Commission (CWC) recently commissioned research to gather insights related to the attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of walnut consumers (as well as non-consumers) as they relate to food products. The study took a deeper dive into understanding how American consumers are making food decisions and how they perceive walnuts. The demand continues for products that are not only delicious, but also nutritious and offer on-the-go convenience.
Here are some ingredient trend highlights:
Of those surveyed, 94% of Americans are looking for creative ways to explore a more balanced diet. In 2017, consumers were eating more whole foods, more nuts, fewer carbs and more good fats (up from 2013). Additionally, Millennials surveyed prioritize convenience and ease over health and nutritional benefits.
Food manufacturers can be reminded plant-based is not “all or nothing.” Consumers don’t necessarily have to go “meat-free” to be more plant-based. Consumers believe walnuts can be used across a wide variety of usage occasions. The research found cookies, baking mixes, cakes and pastries were among the strongest opportunities for walnut acceptance.
Walnuts from California have a mild flavor and soft texture that pairs beautifully with a variety of other flavors. In fact, there are infinite possibilities that walnuts can bring to a range of product categories—from baked goods and desserts to spreads, sauces, confections and meat alternatives.
A bonus? Research found walnut consumers tend to be more adventurous and outgoing in trying new flavors/foods as well as following new trends for eating healthfully.
People are looking more for whole foods rather than diet rules
Manufacturers can embrace good fats through nutrient-dense ingredients, such as walnuts, that replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. Of those surveyed, eating more fruits and vegetables remains the top eating habit people pursue to improve their health (71%), followed by eating more nuts (51%).
Walnuts are an ideal tool for manufacturers looking to deliver on these attributes without sacrificing flavor, texture or nutrition.
Product developers also can be confident that formulating with walnuts will satisfy consumer demand. Consumer taste and preference for walnuts are on the rise as is demand for more walnut products, among those surveyed:
* Taste was most cited as the #1 reason among consumers for consuming walnuts.
* Walnuts were strongly recognized as “nutritious” and “all natural” among consumers. Value perceptions of walnuts have increased significantly alongside convenience.
* The #1 reason people consume walnuts is because they believe they are delicious (79%).
Using Walnuts in Product Innovation
As walnut demand is on the rise due to taste and preference, interest in walnut products is particularly strong in these categories.
- 78% would purchase cookies with walnuts
- 73% would purchase baking mixes with walnuts
- 70% would purchase cakes with walnuts
- 69% would purchase pastries with walnuts
- 69% would purchase salad toppings with walnuts
About the Study:
Conducted by an independent research firm in April 2017, fielded an online survey to 3,032 people, providing a sample consistent with gender and regional distribution of walnut users and non-users in the U.S. population. The study’s margin of error remains +/- 3.51-3.58% with a confidence interval of 95%.
For more information, please visit walnuts.org/food-professionals.