Blue Diamond launches first-ever almond flour line to meet mainstream consumer demand.
California almond growers may be mired in controversy amidst the state’s drought crisis, but demand for an almond-based commodity like almond flour is still going strong. The recent mainstream launch of Blue Diamond’s first-ever almond flour line indicates that the nutritious benefits of almonds still capture consumer attention.
“Almond flour is definitely gaining traction among consumers because of its high nutritional value and gluten-free properties,” says Bill Morecraft, general manager of Blue Diamond’s global ingredients division. “With many people eliminating gluten in their diets, almond flour can replace traditional flours in everyday recipes.”
In gluten-free formulas, for instance, almond flour may serve as a better replacement over rice and potato flours. “Almond flour has rich substance which reduces the use of fillers and simplifies paleo and gluten-free recipes,” says Tim Devey, corporate marketing director for almond flour supplier Honeyville (Brigham City, UT).
Consumers on low-carb/low-glycemic diets, as well as those looking for more-nutritious flour replacements in general, also see the appeal, and for good reason. According to Blue Diamond’s Morecraft, “Almond flour is nutritiously superior to other processed flours,” offering, per quarter cup, 6 g protein, 3.5 g fiber, 75 mg calcium, and a good source of vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats.
Honeyville, which has supplied almond flour for more than a decade, says it expects to see more packaged almond flours come onto the market due to growing consumer interest.
“The almond market continues to feel pressure from the California drought conditions; however, almond flour continues to see steady growth,” says Devey. “More companies, small and large, have seen the success of consumer packaged almond flours and are entering the market to take a piece of the pie.”
Almond-flour suppliers are competing to offer consumers the most-functional ingredients possible. Honeyville, for instance, says that its top-selling Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour is popular because of what Devey calls its “superfine grind.”
“When customers are looking for the right almond flour, it is important to look at the grind,” he says. “Most of the almond flours on the market are a coarse grind, which is not as functional in wheat-flour replacement diets,” he says, pointing to the gritty texture of most gluten-free flours. A finely ground almond powder, on the other hand, provides ideal texture for baked goods like breads, cakes, and cookies.
“There are really two main types of almond flour,” Devey continues. “There is a blanched almond flour, which is ground after the skin is removed from the almond, and there is a natural almond flour, which has the skin ground into the flour. Within those two types of almond flour, there are different degrees of grind. Some flours are coarse and more like a meal, while others are fine and ideal for baking…Most customers will find better baking/cooking results with a fine grind.”
Blue Diamond comes out the gate with three different varieties of almond flour. One is a finely-ground, light-tan, artisanal-style “natural” flour suited for “rustic” crackers, breads, cookies, granola, and toppings and similar to the granulation of blanched almond flour but at a lower price. The second is an extra-fine-blanched, powder-like flour for more delicate baked goods like macarons, crusts, cake, and dough. The company describes the third option, a finely blanched almond flour, as suited for everyday baking and cooking, including breadcrumbs, breads, and muffins.
This variety is what sets the Blue Diamond line apart, Morecraft says. “The variety these options provide is going to be essential in using almond flour in the same applications where a formulator would use any other flour.”
These companies say they expect consumers to continue finding appeal that the sweet, nutty flavor of almond flour offers to a multitude of product applications.
Nutritional Outlook magazine