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The dairy shelf at supermarkets has undergone a bit of a transformation in the last 10 years. The yogurt category has risen, and fractured into countless sub-categories. The milk aisle has seen shifts in products with plant-based alternatives gaining in popularity. Even the ice cream freezer case has changed with manufacturers either removing dairy completely from their product lines or doubling up on indulgence. In each of these categories, walnuts have the potential to play a starring role, especially within the growing segment of plant-based dairy alternatives.

Plant-based milk currently comprises 13% of total retail milk sales, a growth of 6% from last year. Market research company Mordor Intelligence’s Global Dairy Alternative Products Market Forecast (2019-2024) predicts that the dairy alternatives category will reach $23.35 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.85% through 2024.

Walnuts play multiple roles in dairy products and dairy-free alternatives. In milks, walnuts take a starring role providing great flavor and a significant source of omega-3 ALA. In yogurt, walnuts can be used as an inclusion to provide texture. And in ice cream, walnuts provide indulgence, texture and nutritious properties!

In 2019, California Walnuts commissioned a consumer research study of 4,014 U.S.-based people, and it includes insights related to walnut usage in packaged foods. The study, conducted by an independent research firm, showed that 73% of consumers said they would purchase a product with walnuts. Coupled with dairy-free consumer demand, we’re excited to see so many dairy and dairy-alternative manufacturers using walnuts. Here are some examples of made with walnut plant-based products:

Walnut Milk by Mariani

Naturally creamy, this Walnut Milk by Mariani is a great dairy alternative for smoothies or in your morning cereal. It’s 40 calories per serving and contains 500 mg of omega-3 ALA. Best yet, the unsweetened variety has 0 grams of sugar. The product also has potassium, vitamins A, D and E and 450 mg of calcium per serving to boost the nutritional profile.

Milked Walnuts Walnut Milk by Elmhurst

Walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid — the most ALA of any other tree nut. Touting the omega-3 ALA benefit of walnuts, Milked Walnuts Walnut Milk comes in sweet and unsweet varieties. This unique product is shelf stable (no refrigeration required until opened), and is made with just two ingredients — walnuts and water. Walnut Milk is non-GMO project verified and kosher.

Simple Sides Honey Yogurt by Siggi’s

The popular yogurt maker’s Simple Sides line contains Siggi’s traditional yogurt with a sidecar that holds fruits and nuts to blend in. Walnuts and dried figs come with the Honey Yogurt variety, which highlights the brand’s Icelandic whole milk skyr and no added sugar.

Yogurt & Oat Bar with Lemon & Walnuts by Mediterra

The Mediterranean diet is rich with walnuts, lemons and oats. Add in a drizzle of honey, a sprinkling of raisins, dates, sunflower seeds and yogurt flavor, and you have an excellent gourmet nutrition bar. This bar contains six grams of protein and three grams of fiber per serving.

Chunky Monkey by Ben & Jerry’s

Even though winter is looming, it’s always a great time for a pint of Chunky Monkey! This banana ice cream includes fudge chunks and walnuts, creating a nutty, chocolate delight complete with non-GMO ingredients, cage-free eggs and responsibly sourced packaging.

BrainMilk by ERApeutics

Although not yet proven by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), studies are showing that walnuts can improve brain health in a multitude of ways. They may lower the risk of age-related cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Jordan Balencic, a primary care physician, and his wife, Tessa, decided to delve into the possibilities of walnuts in a plant-based, dairy-alternative beverage, and we couldn’t be more excited for the launch of BrainMilk in early 2020. Stay tuned for more on this product!

Next time you’re in the dairy aisle, search for these wonderful products made with walnuts. For more on the nutritional benefits of walnuts, read further.

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