Diamond Foods Bets on Snacking and Product Innovation to Help Increase Walnut and Pecan Consumption

Diamond Foods initially launched Snack Walnuts with eight unique flavors, but four core flavors, Salted Dark Chocolate, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sweet Maple and Hot Honey, emerged as the clear flavors to prioritize (all photos courtesy Diamond Foods.)

Diamond Foods is on a mission to help grow North American walnut and pecan consumption with its continued investment in snacking and product innovation. The 110-year-old handler launched the first-ever snack walnut line, Diamond of California Snack Walnuts, back in 2020 and this spring relaunched the original Santa Cruz trail mix brand, Harmony. We are just getting started as we are on track to roll out a variety of new innovative products that focus on attracting new consumers and increasing occasions for walnuts and pecans.

Over the last century, Diamond Foods has made a name for itself with our extensive lines of Diamond of California “Made for Homemade” culinary nuts and ready-to-use nut pie crust products. While we have been a pioneer and leader in the culinary category for decades, it was vital for us to think about how we evolve and help increase the overall year-round consumption of walnuts and pecans.

Diamond Foods relaunched Harmony®, a 50-year-old Santa Cruz trail mix brand acquired in 2006. The brand’s new trail mixes highlight the benefits of walnuts paired alongside other complementary.

While we’ve seen great success with our culinary nut line, the category has been traditionally limited to just one major consumption spike in Q4 for holiday baking and cooking. As such, shifting into the evergreen and fast-growing snack nut category was a natural progression for our brand to increase year-round consumption, especially with 94% of Americans snacking daily and 70% of consumers snacking at least twice each day. IRI data from April 2022 showed that in the last year the snack nuts category accounted for over $5 billion in retail sales, a 1.2% increase over the prior year.

We made our first foray into the snack nut category with the launch of our Diamond of California® Snack Walnuts line in 2020. March 2020 was not ideal timing to launch in the middle of a global pandemic, especially since the shopping experience was challenged by long lines, product shortages and shoppers looking for essentials and not new products. However, launching at that time allowed us to learn and grow from both retailers and consumers in the fast-changing snacking landscape. We initially launched Snack Walnuts with eight unique flavors, but our now four core flavors, Salted Dark Chocolate, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sweet Maple and Hot Honey, emerged as the clear flavors to prioritize. The success of those flavors confirmed the consumers’ demand for health-conscious yet indulgent snacks, but it also reminded us to keep flavors accessible. As we continue to innovate new products and flavors, we are leaning into our nutrient-dense walnuts as they are a great source of plant-based protein and better-for-you fats and complementing them with approachable flavor pairings that satisfy both the sweet and savory cravings.
Today, Diamond of California® Snack Walnuts are the No. 1 snack walnut brand in the U.S. with nearly three times more sold vs the next snack walnut brand in 2022 and sales up 61% per IRI data. We are proud of our success with Snack Walnuts thus far but know there’s still more room to grow, especially as overall domestic walnut consumption continues to be stable. With increased walnut plantings over the last several years, the industry needs to be seeing growing consumption. With the growth of the snack nut category and our Snack Walnut line, we see snacking as a tremendous opportunity to help increase domestic demand as it will further deseasonalize walnuts and keep consumers coming back.

As part of our strategy to help increase domestic walnut consumption, we are focused on further developing our snack portfolio with innovative products that meet consumer needs and introduce walnuts in new ways to new consumers. In looking at IRI’s April 2022 data on the snack nut category, it was clear there was an upward trend of consumers purchasing trail mix. It showed the trail mix category saw a 9.1% increase vs the prior year, accounting for $1.26 billion in total retail sales. This was the rationale for relaunching Harmony, a 50-year-old Santa Cruz trail mix brand we acquired in 2006. The brand was originally founded by two surfers who made a delicious portable snack of nuts and dried fruit so they never missed the next big wave. Inspired by the original ethos of Harmony, “fuel your next adventure”, we gave the classic brand a fresh look and created a line of three tasty and nutritious trail mixes highlighting the benefits of walnuts paired alongside other complementary nuts, seeds, dried fruits and snacks.

Our reimagined Harmony launched earlier this year in three better-for-you varieties: Amped Omega-3, Colossal Keto and Mega Mountain. Amped Omega-3 is a functional blend of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Omega-3 superfoods, including our Diamond of California® Himalayan Pink Salt Snack Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raw walnuts and dried cranberries, and each serving contains 1000 mg of ALA Omega-3 (62% of the recommended daily value.) Colossal Keto is a keto-friendly blend of good fats and low carbs with our Diamond of California® Himalayan Pink Salt Snack Walnuts, Sonoma Creamery Parmesan Cheese Crisps, roasted edamame, roasted almonds and roasted peanuts. Each serving contains 3g of net carbs, 7g of protein per serving, less than 1g of sugar and 0g of added sugar. Mega Mountain is a classic sweet and savory trail mix blend with Diamond of California Salted Dark Chocolate Walnuts, roasted peanuts, raisins, roasted almonds and coated chocolate candies. Each serving contains 4g of plant-based protein and is a good source of ALA Omega-3.

An additional phase of our strategy to increase walnut consumption domestically by further expanding our snacking portfolio is to serve another untapped market in the snack nut category: pecans. Domestic pecan consumption is up, and we see this as an opportunity to grow further by serving pecan lovers and attracting them to our larger line of Snack Walnuts. This fall, we will lean-into this expansion opportunity by launching Pecan Pie Pecans along with an iconic seasonal flavor in Pumpkin Pie Spice Walnuts. Finally, we will also be launching an exciting co-branded product in our snack walnut line late in the year.
While snacking and innovation are the keys to our strategy to increase domestic consumption of walnuts and pecans, it’s crucial we stay true to our brand and products and focus on the end benefits for the consumer. Food and drink flavors move faster in our more connected world, so we want to make sure we are being thoughtful and not just innovating for the next fad but creating timeless products that draw consumers in and keep them coming back for more.


IRI “Snack Sensations Around the World,” April 2022

Mintel – Snack Food, US (2018)

IRI MULO Market Advantage, Integrated Fresh, Total U.S., 52 Weeks Ending 04/17/22

IRI MULO Dollar Sales, 52 Weeks