MODESTO, CALIF. — Almond product introductions are at an all-time high in North America with a 30% increase in 2010, according to Innova Market Insights and the Almond Board of California.

The Almond Board of California also said almonds are the No. 1 choice ingredient in several key product categories for consumers around the world, specifically with almond products showing significant growth from the previous year in the North American cereal, confectionery and snacking categories.

“Almonds offer a combination of qualities not many ingredients can boast about — great taste, distinct texture and multiple benefits — so it’s not surprising they’re the No. 1 nut-food professionals are choosing,” said LuAnn Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights. “The applications are truly limitless, and when I look at the top trends today — from heart health to confectionery innovation — there is a place for almonds in every one.”

In confectionery, consumers report chocolate with almonds are more nutritious, tastier and crunchier than chocolate without almonds, according to a 2010 Global Chocolate Study from the Sterling-Rice Group. New chocolate product introductions from 2001 to 2009 also doubled, according to Mintel’s global new products database.

“Almonds are the heart of many classic products such as the French macaron but can also be used to enhance the texture, flavor and visual appeal of almost any sweet application,” said Richard Cusick, technical adviser for the Chocolate Academy at Barry Callebaut USA.

When it comes to snacking, consumers said almonds combine great taste and nutrition, are easy to eat on the go and are something they won’t regret, according to a 2009 Snacking Study by SRG. Consumers also chose almonds twice as often as other nuts to have in their ideal granola bar because they believe they are more nutritious, have a better crunch and keep them full longer.

In breakfast cereals, Innova said 17% of cereals introduced in 2010 had almonds, and almond cereal introductions grew 9% in 2010, outpacing a 4% growth in nut cereal introductions and 2% growth in general new cereal products.