Product Spotlight: The price of healthful snacking
The health message is the new product for Planters Nut-rition almonds; but who’s nuts enough to pay $5.99?
With the interest in diets
that focus on protein as an
important nutrient source,
the almond finally has come
into its own in the world
of snacking.By Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley, Consumer Understanding Editors
The almond is inherently healthy, with 20 percent of its composition represented as protein. Its fats are polyunsaturated, and it contains high amounts of linoleic acid, an essential oil. Almonds are also high in vitamin E and calcium.
With the interest in diets that focus on protein as an important nutrient source, the almond finally has come into its own in the world of snacking. The Planters brand of Kraft Foods Inc. wants to make sure consumers who have found nuts with the current nutrition fads do not leave the category when the diet pendulum swings back toward carbohydrates.
Planters has been doing that for some time by providing nutritional reasons for snacking on nuts. In February, the Kraft division intensified those efforts by launching the Nut-rition line, four varieties of nuts in 10-oz. tins. Salted and smoked almonds are joined by Heart-Healthy Mix (a low-salt mix of peanuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts) and Cashews, Almonds and Macadamias Mix. This review and our consumer panels focused on salted almonds. Understanding the marketplace
U.S. almond growers produced 1.024 billion lbs. for the 2003-2004 crop year, up 7 percent over the previous year. At retail, consumers see Planters, Blue Diamond and several lesser-known brands and private label.
Planters, as the overall nut category leader, needs to justify its pricing differential over Blue Diamond and the other brands, since the product itself lacks much differentiation once the can is opened. With the market share Planters has, there is minimal value in stealing growth from a competitor; the greatest growth will come from growing the category of nuts overall within the category of snacking.
Consumers following the recently popular high-protein diets, who struggled to deal with compliance on the diet due to the tug of fundamental snacking behaviors, rediscovered nuts as a great snack and drove the initial growth of this category. Nuts stole share especially from high-carbohydrate snacks. Protein-focused snackers traded off nuts against snacks like pork rinds and meat snacks and moved away from chips and cookies.
Kraft/Planters hopes to grow the category even more with a message of nuts as a tasty vitamin pill.
|Planters Nut-rition is available across all the nut product lines in 10-oz cans at $5.99. Different cans say “good source of fiber,” “South Beach Diet” and “Heart-Healthy Mix.”|
Our Healthy You! and Crave It! processes innovatively integrate 20 to 30 conjoint studies to generate a database that can be used to understand the experience of foods (from product, situation, emotions, and brands/benefits) in the marketplace. This process found the key attributes for craveable nuts are: taste, aroma, mood and brand. Consumers think “premium” based on the size or quality of the nuts. Nuts are consumed at mid-afternoon and late evening. Nut consumption is popular during TV viewing for Americans.
The key attributes for healthy nuts are taste, price, brand and healthiness. Consumers are looking for structure function claims like: a good source of fiber; important in reducing your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes; providing essential minerals your body needs, including potassium, magnesium, and zinc; as part of a low fat, low-cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer; may reduce your risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
When consumers think about nuts and health trade-offs, they do not worry about flavor, and they are interested in the health benefits nuts can naturally bring to them.
Key trends that can impact this idea are convenience and healthfulness.Convenience:
Manufacturers are responding to consumers’ hectic lifestyles by creating packaging that assists convenience. Nuts come in cans, stand up bags, tubes that allow the snack to be poured right into the mouth and snack packs. Manufacturers have tried to ensure that, like other snacks, nuts are ubiquitous and easy to eat and that the packaging does not get in the way of your snack.Healthfulness:
Nuts have both the halo of health and reality of health. Nuts are a nutritionally dense whole food. Various health claims for nuts are allowed such as “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts) as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease” (FDA, 2003). Almond research has shown that when individuals add almonds as a snack to their regular diet, their overall intake of several important nutrients increases. The findings indicate incorporating almonds into a diet may promote the natural displacement of less nutrient-dense foods, making the overall diet better (Jaceldo-Siegl, British Journal of Nutrition,
Sept. 6, 2004).The experience
Planters Nut-rition is available across all the nut product lines in 10-oz cans at $5.99. The package is blue with a photo of almonds, plus it has bright green (remember the Healthy Choice green?) swoops with the familiar Planters logo and Mr. Peanut in the center. Different cans say “good source of fiber,” “South Beach Diet” and “Heart-Healthy Mix.” A brown circle also notes they’re an excellent source of vitamin E. The type of nut is in the lower right hand corner and is almost lost with all the nutrition news.