Skip to main content

The Innovative Future of the Almond


Mattson President and CIO Barb Stuckey addressing attendees at lunch on day two of The Almond Conference.

After a turbulent couple of years, market experts say consumers have drastically changed their perception of what food innovation should look like. Becoming more and more important is the idea of health, sustainability, transparency and consumer centricity. Consumers are fueling new plant-based alternatives, tech-enhanced foods, and are normalizing food on demand. Identifying these consumer trends is top of mind for Barb Stuckey, chief innovation officer for Mattson, a business that creates new products and successfully takes them to market.

Stuckey spoke at The Almond Conference during the Wednesday luncheon where she explained a consumer-driven market full of opportunities and described the almond industry as a major player in the future of food innovation. She noted that those within this industry can capitalize on consumer trends that just so happen to align perfectly with the already established core factors that almonds naturally possess. With many years of experience, Barb highlighted three ways in which the almond industry can excel and further shape the future of food innovation.


Stuckey forecasted the coming growth of plant-based, tech-enhanced proteins which will become even more popular in the coming years. She mentioned a few protein replacements that are now trending amongst consumers – cultivated meat (heating up cells and growing meat without harming animals), precision fermented proteins (fermenting micro-organisms to make protein), and plant-based proteins. While this may sound like an overwhelming segment to break into, the almond industry already aligns with these trending alternatives. Stuckey explained that almonds have a major opportunity to become the top protein snack of consumers because of the natural benefits that they provide. Stating that almonds are naturally rich in protein, Stuckey even envisions them being used in alternative “meat” options for flavor and crunch as the public shifts toward a plant-based lifestyle. The current innovation of proteins allows for collaboration and possible strategic alignment between almonds and those making ground-breaking moves in the production of protein alternatives.

Product Innovation

Product innovation, as Stuckey explains, is becoming vital as convenient, functional, and sustainable foods are becoming the new normal. Almonds have a serious advantage when it comes to this. Stuckey notes that the almond industry can “win” at product innovation by producing products with clean labels that highlight sustainability and transparency. She gave examples of this by showing labels which including messaging like, “fighting food waste”, “plant-based”, and “free from preservatives.” She said not only do consumers care about what growers produce, but they are now focusing more and more on what happens behind the scenes as a product is taken from the farm to the table. Noting the natural benefits that almonds provide to the consumer and environment, Stuckey said the industry has a great way to adapt and change to coincide with the new wave of innovation and consumerism.


The busy and fast-paced environment worldwide, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has placed great importance on the channel in which a product is placed. Highlighting this, Barb painted a picture of a busy family ordering ready-to-make dinners with pre-packaged ingredients. She believes this is where almonds can carve out the perfect segment by collaborating with convenience brands – like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron – to add almonds as a flavorful ingredient to their recipes.

While food innovation has been completely reimagined in recent years, Stuckey landed on one common theme – almonds have endless opportunities. She believes now is the ideal time to reassess what roles almonds will play in the future of food innovation and there is untapped potential for growers to take inspiration from brands on the American table and create their own new “top of mind” product.

A full recording of Stuckey’s presentation will be made available on the Almond Board of California’s YouTube channel in January of 2022.