Natural Nut Butters and Chocolate Spreads are the Top 2015 Food Trend

The nut and seed butter niche is only spreading.

Michele Ferrero built a fortune feeding generations of Italians, and eventually chocolate / nut lovers around the world his invention of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and Ferrero Rocher pralines (another chocolate hazelnut genius move) among many other sweets. 

Finally here in America, food entrepreneurs are tapping into our own ample supply of almonds (around 95% of the world's supply grown in California) and hazelnuts from Oregon. Not to mention a growing demand for peanuts.

At the 2015 Expo West Natural Products Expo, it seemed nearly every aisle featured a nut or seed spread of some sort.

3 Innovations Keep This Category Growing

  • Packaging for grab-and-go plant-based protein snacks
  • Ingredients blend popular and intriguing flavors with extremely healthful ingredients
  • Branding and manufacturing styles target the various brands to a niche, whether local, kids or foodie adults

Discover the 4 nut, seed, and chocolate spread product trends that are making for healthy, growing businesses:

1
Downright Decadent Natural Chocolate Nut Spreads For Crepes and More

Barefoot Chocolate Spreads
Barefoot Chocolate Spreads. Susie Wyshak

For years the market (and I) have craved a simple, natural chocolate nut butter.

The marker now overflows with natural chocolate spreads from the ultra creamy Barefoot & Chocolate whose products are really superlative. Check out this good, clean ingredients list too:

  • Organic Cane Sugar – Fair Trade certified
  • Almonds and Hazelnuts (not organic currently, due to cost)
  • Palm Fruit Oil – RSPO 100% segregated Certified Sustainable Palm Fruit Oil. It is not hydrogenated or solvent extracted.
  • Desiccated Coconut – We use real coconuts (not coconut flavor). Our coconut is sulfite-free. Desiccated simply means dehydrated.
  • Organic Cocoa Powder – Fair Trade certified
  • Organic Sunflower Oil –  Expeller pressed
  • Organic Milk Powder – rBGH and rBST free
  • Organic Vanilla – Fair Trade certified
  • Sunflower Lecithin – A natural emulsifier that we prefer as an alternative to the more widely used soy lecithin.
  • Sea Salt – French Sea Salt

NuttZo makes a line of crunchy and smooth seedy nut butter and a Nutella-alternative 70% Dark Chocolate blend.

I love how the founding of NuttZo ties back to a social mission: The founder developed the nut butter for her adopted Ukranian child. Now the company donates money to a non-profit that helps orphans in the Ukraine. 

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter blends hazelnuts and almonds with sweeteners along with palm fruit oil and cocoa butter for a creamy, satisfying yet not-too-sweet experience.

Wild Friends out of Oregon makes a delicious nut-free Chocolate Sunflower Butter in jars and single-serve packs.

There are even nut-free chocolate soy butter and flavored spreads, for eaters who prefer soy over seeds.

2
Addictive Natural Sweet Nut Butters

Justins Nut Butter Product Line.png
Justin's makes natural nut butters and spreads for multiple eating occasions. Justin's

Justin's first came into my life at an Oregon bakery that featured Justin Gold's single-serve almond butter squeeze packs atop the bakery case as instant gratification for bread roll buyers.

Since this discovery in 2007, when Justin was still largely selling at a Boulder, Colorado farmers' market, the company has come a very long way. You can't walk into a Whole Foods nut butter aisle without the bold, appealing branding jumping out at you in 16 oz. jars along with 1.15 oz. squeeze packs that deliver convenient on-to-go protein (both for peanut butter and almond butter lovers) and portion-controlled options.

Profit Tip: The single-serve packs turn items often consumed infrequently into higher margin snack foods.

Barney Butter blends squeeze packs and jars in its product mix that ranges from nut butter to gluten-free blends including Vanilla Espresso—yum. Started by a Fresno, California mom, Barney Butter has a "local" advantage, located smack dab in the middle of the world's major almond-growing region. They manufacture in a peanut-free facility, nice peace of mind for those with allergies.

3
Healthful Nut - Seed - Superfood Spreads - Everything But the Junk

KOLAT superfood nut and seed butters
KOLAT at Expo West 2015. Susie Wyshak

Starting around 2013, several nut butter brands hit the market promising an even more nutritious spread with textures thanks to added seeds.

Superfood meets nut butter at KOLAT, a line of spreads a nutritionist dreamed up made of dried fruits, nuts, spices and other magical fats and nutrients. Yes, they are located in Colorado.

Yummy butter blends seeds, hemp, and goji into their "World Changing" nut butter. They've come up with some innovative packaging such as their GO-Anywhere Pouch with a plastic fitment, the technical name for a spout. I can see replenishing energy with these down on a long bike ride.

Plus, Yummy butter says they feed a child in need with each purchase.

Wild Friends taps into the need for nut-free, clearly, a large enough market to land them in Costco stores. The kids can much their SB&J sandwiches even in schools with peanut bans. Phew!

4
Small Batch, Handcrafted Nut Butters - A Meal On a Spoon

Eliot's Adult Nut Butters
Spoon-Ready Nut Butters. Eliot's Adult Nut Butters

You can't swing a wooden spoon without hitting a hand-crafted nut butter company these days. Around the country, and across Kickstarter and farmers' markets, we find makers of delectable spreads that often have the following in common:

  • Super cool branding
  • Nut butter with nuts ground in-house then blended with spices and other ground bits (cocoa, ginger, etc.)
  • Glass jars
  • Innovative flavors on the savory / sweet / spicy realm with a Southeast Asian and Indian-inspired bent

Big Spoon Roasters features North Carolina honey and pecans in its luscious nut butter.

I could eat Eliot's Adult Nut Butters with a big spoon. Bold and savory flavors fit into 2015 health + ethnic food trends. Dip into Thai and Garam Masala featured in these Portland, Oregon nut butter.

What Flavor Is Your Nut Butter?

The market may look saturated but there seems to be ample opportunity for new nut butter flavors and new brands—given that eat every type of nut pairs so well with so many flavors and the trends in plant-based protein consumption and foods infused with ethnic and interesting flavors.

One word of caution: As the growth in almond milk and demand for nuts grows, prices may rise. Keep tabs on supply and demand as well as weather patterns.