MODESTO, CALIF. — The Hershey Co. introduced its chocolate bar with almonds in 1908. Ninety-eight years later, the company decided it was time for a formulation change.
“We thought we would try something new to increase our almond bar consumption by adding chopped almonds so we could claim, ‘An almond in every bite,’” said Shawn Houser-Fedor, senior director, chocolate and packaging R&D, in a Dec. 10 presentation during the Almond Board of California’s virtual conference.
People noticed. Consumer complaints increased significantly, Ms. Houser-Fedor said. After Hershey switched back to whole almonds two years later in 2018, sales shot up 25% for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds. Consumers said whole almonds have a better mouthfeel and a better crunch, Ms. Houser-Fedor said.
The Hershey, Pa.-based company made sure to use whole almonds in a Hershey’s White with Whole Almonds chocolate bar. Consumer insight was gained before the bar launched in 2019.
“Sixty-five percent of them said they would definitely buy it, and they told us they wanted the whole almond and preferred 9 to 10 (almonds) in each bar,” Ms. Houser-Fedor said.
Besides product launches, Hershey has acquired companies that have products containing almonds such as barkThins and One protein bars.
People tend to perceive products with whole almonds as a premium experience, said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands.
“Anything that is from a farm, that’s a real ingredient, it is seen as very premium as well,” she said at the virtual event.