Blueberries and walnuts boost baked goods

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Fans of blueberries officially have a fresh way to share their love of their favorite berry: the new blueberry emoji was included in the latest set released by the Unicode Consortium and made available on devices this month.

In a recent national survey, 46% of adults associated a blueberry emoji with happiness, and another 19% associated it with being hungry. To encourage use of the emoji, and inspire purchase, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) will be engaging consumers through a variety of social media content and promotions.

“Consumers enjoy using emoji to add context – and pops of color – to their communications. We are thrilled that they now have such a vivid way to show their love for blueberries and spread a little happiness,” says Kasey Cronquist, president, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “The USHBC is committed to helping blueberry growers, marketers and industry stakeholders grow demand for blueberries by using the new emoji to fuel consumer interest and grow market share.”

To help the blueberry industry capitalize on this new marketing tool, the USHBC developed resources to support strategic use of the new emoji. The Emoji Toolkit provides best practices for emoji usage;

  • predesigned, pre-written social posts
  • downloadable large-size, high-res emoji files for promotions and signage.

Blueberries continue to make a strong showing in consumer shopping carts: the dollar growth for blueberries is more than seven times the average of the top 15 fruit and vegetable categories sold in retail. This level of demand reflects the popularity of blueberries, which factored into the addition of a blueberry emoji to the standard set.

With the blueberry emoji’s release, blueberry fans will get to decide for themselves how they want to use it. Consumers already have some ideas about what messages with the blueberry emoji might mean, even without context.

Respondents in the national survey by Pollfish indicated that if they see a blueberry emoji on its own, they might assume:

● It signifies happiness and hunger.

● The sender either wanted to eat blueberries or was already eating blueberries.

● They should add blueberries to their shopping list.

● The sender was making or eating dessert with blueberries in it.

● They were being asked to breakfast/brunch.

Blueberries are appreciated and warmly received all around: In 2020, Classic Blueberry was named Flavor of the Year and Classic Blue was designated Color of the Year. The emoji release rounds out the national recognition for blueberries, and USHBC will continue to leverage these milestones and provide additional resources to industry stakeholders through Q4 and beyond.

Made with Walnuts

For thousands of years, walnuts have possessed many unique qualities. Today, those distinct attributes are being harnessed and celebrated in new and exciting ways. With more and more “made with walnuts” foods and beverages hitting store shelves, the value of walnuts’ flavor, versatility, and nutritional benefits is making a direct impact on innovation across several product categories.

California walnuts are a plant-based, whole food that contribute many beneficial nutrients and value consumers recognize and appreciate. They are also an ideal ingredient for food and beverage manufacturers looking to deliver new creative products without sacrificing flavor, texture, or nutrition.

The California Walnut Commission developed a new white paper for product developers and marketers to gain insight as to what makes walnuts unique.

WALNUTS ARE AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF OMEGA-3 ALPHA-LINOLENIC ACID (ALA)

Are you looking to give your product a boost of good fats without the fish oil? Consider formulating with walnuts, the only nut to contain a significant amount of plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) at 2.5 grams per ounce or 9 grams per 100 grams.

For example, launched in early 2020, Keto Cookie Bites use California walnut flour to provide a boost of all-important plant-based omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz). The products are formulated to satisfy the keto diet and contain 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of net carbs per serving.

PLANT-BASED FUNCTIONALITY

There’s no denying the booming popularity of plant-based foods. However, consumers are starting to doubt the ingredients in some popular meat alternatives on the marketplace. Does the average consumer know what leghemoglobin is? Does methylcellulose belong on a clean label plant-based food? With walnuts, plant-based food and beverage manufacturers can mimic products such as ground beef without excess ingredients and fillers. The next generation of plant-based foods will focus on clean label products, and walnuts can play a starring role due to their subtle nuttiness and exceptional texture that mimics ground beef in tacos, hamburgers, and even frozen ravioli.

FLAVOR VERSATILITY

From a flavor perspective, walnuts carry a unique and subtle nutty flavor profile. They complement both sweet chocolate, vanilla, and fruit applications, as well as savory meat, vegetable, and pasta applications. Walnuts possess a fairly mild flavor, but they also have a complex profile that includes tangy, acidic, buttery, and sharp notes.

Walnuts are quite versatile and pair well with many ingredients, but some flavors can really help a product developer achieve that “wow” factor. The dual nature of the walnut — its sharp-flavored skins and a rich interior — enables it to play two roles in the pairing game. The bitter notes allow walnuts to combine with sweeter and higher-fat foods, but at the same time lighten up citrus fruit flavors and vegetables. Recognizing and capitalizing on these flavor dimensions is the key to your walnut development success.

TEXTURE

Walnuts have the perfect bite. Neither too hard nor too soft, they are the ideal inclusion in everything from ice cream to snack bars to plant-based taco crumbles. With walnuts available in sizes ranging from whole pieces to walnut meal, food manufacturers have the ability to tailor the perfect mouthfeel in products using walnuts. Plus, walnuts’ pliable texture makes them a great medium for seasonings.

NUTRITIOUS INDULGENCE

Ten years ago, consumers accepted that eating “healthy” packaged foods often meant sacrificing taste. Those days are over. Consumers demand products that are all-natural, taste great, and deliver on nutrition. Healthful indulgence has become the holy grail of food and beverage product development. Manufacturers in almost every category are trying to create great-tasting products loaded with nutritional benefits.

Walnuts deliver both essential nutrition and indulgence and are easily incorporated into countless food products. In a 2019 consumer survey, taste was cited as the number one reason for consuming walnuts. In addition, 90% of consumers recognize walnuts as a nutritious food and 78% said the health benefits of walnuts positively impacted their purchase decision. There is a wealth of research showing the benefits of walnuts beyond their significant source of omega-3 ALA fatty acid (2.5g/oz). This research spans from weight management to heart health to cognition.

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