“In the past the tablet needed to be perfect. Now consumers like to see the imperfectness of food because nature is not perfect so let’s not try to create this rounded ball nut,” Bas Smit, global marketing director of Barry Calelbaut’s food manufacturers division, told Confectionerynews during a press trip to La Morella’s factory in Reus, Spain.
He advised chocolate manufacturers to make nuts and dried fruits visible on the chocolate surface as Nestlé has for its Cailler L’Atelier brand.
"It shows that there is something in there that makes it a 'better for you' proposition' instead of 'natural'," he said. “Asian consumers are longing for premium quality from Europe and there will naturally be demand for Mediterranean nuts,” the marketing director added.
La Morella Nuts business
Barry Callebaut moved into nut inclusions by acquiring La Morella Nuts in 2012 as a complimentary category to its core chocolate business. The Swiss supplier last year added to its nut ingredients portfolio by acquiring New York-based American Almond.
Family company La Morella Nuts was founded in 1986 in Spain. Today it employees 77 people across two plants in Reus and Castellvell del Camp and produces around 9,000 metric tons (MT) of fine nuts each year – 5,000 MT of hazelnut-based products, 3,000 MT of almond-based products and 1,000 MT of other nut inclusions such as pistachios and pecans.
The company’s main export market for nuts is Belgium with 32% of its nut-based ingredients going to the country, followed by France, which buys 21% of its volumes.
Hazelnuts and almonds among most popular flavors
According to Innova Market Insights hazelnut is the most-used flavor in chocolate within Europe, accounting for around 12% of over 10,000 products tracked between H2 2013 and H2 2014.
The research organization found caramel was the most-used flavor in North America, but almonds were the second most popular, featuring in around 8% of over 2,000 products tracked.
Hazelnuts are the most sought after nut for chocolate consumers. Datamonitor Consumers Q2 2015 consumer survey found 36% of consumers who consider nutty the most appealing taste in chocolate favored hazelnuts, followed by almonds, which was the preferred choice 25% of those surveyed.