Chocolate and Almonds: Consumer Preferences Revealed

The Almond Board of California (ABC) fielded its first global chocolate study in 2010, collecting consumer data regarding chocolate and nut attitudes, usage and preferences. This information has been successfully leveraged in ABC marketing and PR campaigns directed toward manufacturers and food professionals.

Results from a repeat of the study in 2013 will be used to update and expand what was learned in 2010. The main objectives are to understand chocolate attitudes and usage in key markets and to assess preferences in chocolate relative to nuts and other ingredients globally.

Globally, the research found that chocolate is eaten about 11 times per month, with the highest consumption coming from France. Also, milk chocolate is the most popular type of chocolate; either plain, with nuts or even some type of filling. Dark chocolate, like milk chocolate, has a strong following, too.

Consumers love nuts in their chocolate: According to the recent Global Chocolate study,* nearly two-thirds of these respondents believe that nuts make chocolate products crunchier, more nutritious and more filling.

Almonds also bring a wide variety of nutritional benefits to chocolate. A jointly funded study between ABC and The Hershey Company is evaluating the independent and additive effects of dark chocolate and almonds on heart disease risk factors of 40 healthy, non-smoking, overweight and obese men and women aged 21–70 years with moderately elevated LDL cholesterol. Dark chocolate and cocoa contain epicatechin and proanthocyanidins, flavanols that exert beneficial effects on vascular function. Both almonds and chocolate have shown important heart health benefits; however, the additive and or synergistic effects of almonds and dark chocolate/cocoa have not been investigated.

Currently, 20 subjects are enrolled in the study, with a projected completion period of summer 2014.

*Source: Global Perceptions Study; Sterling-Rice Group, 2013

Good news about almonds and heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.

The Handle