Richard Waycott. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California

Richard Waycott president and CEO of the Almond Board of California. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California

Richard Waycott. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California

Richard Waycott president and CEO of the Almond Board of California. Photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California


Reflections on 20 Years of Almond Board Leadership

After 20 years at the helm, Richard Waycott will conclude his tenure as president and CEO of the Almond Board of California at the end of 2023.

During his time leading the organization, almond growing has become California’s largest agricultural industry, and the scope of his role has expanded along with that growth. Waycott took some time out recently to look back on his Almond Board career and reflect on what’s ahead—both for himself and the industry.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in the almond industry in the past two decades?

As an industry, we’ve grown up and transformed ourselves from a smaller specialty crop into now a major crop, a major industry. And all that change comes with not only opportunity changes, but also changes of responsibility and the need to provide more leadership across agriculture. So that’s been one change that’s been quite dramatic.

The other is that in my ag career, I’ve never been part of an industry that has really totally transformed itself in terms of how the product is seen, how it’s utilized, [and] for what purposes people are consuming it. And that all took place in the last 20, 25 years in the almond business, primarily due to the health and nutrition research that we started funding back in the late 90s.

In 2019, the Almond Board adopted four goals for environmentally friendly almond production with a target date for completion of 2025. How would you gauge the progress to date?

The board, after looking at all sorts of areas where goals could be created, settled on the four that you’re mentioning. And that was to increase our water use efficiency further, it was to increasingly utilize really nonchemical or nontraditional pesticide crop protection tools—so more of our environmentally friendly tools. We set out to reduce our harvest dust because we produce a lot of dust when we shake the trees and sweep up the nuts, and [the goal is] to reduce that by 50%. And also to take our biomass (which is the majority of what we produce in an orchard) … to pursue more optimal uses for that biomass.

So three out of the four, by 2025, we will have met and exceeded. And the only one that we probably won’t is the dust reduction, just because the ability to achieve that degree of reduction really implies different equipment in the orchards. It is available, and there are some incentives from the National Resources Conservation Service to purchase those machines, so it is transforming. But these are very expensive machines, and so it takes quite a while to have that transition of machinery take place. So we probably won’t hit the 2025 goal, but we will be well on our way there.

One of my favorite things at the IFT FIRST Food Expo is enjoying some of the almond-based concoctions created by Almond Board chefs. What’s your favorite almond treat?

Some date way, way back, starting in childhood. Believe it or not, my favorite go-to candy bar always was an Almond Joy. I love the coconut, I love the nut, and the combination of flavors with the chocolate, the coconut, and the almond. And to this day, Santa Claus comes down the chimney every year with some Almond Joys on Christmas Eve.

One of my favorite things that I always bring back [from travels to Asia] is slivered almonds and little fish. So that’s one of my favorite Asian snacks. [And] I just really enjoy dry roasted, slightly salted almonds as a snack.

What’s on your agenda for the future?

I’ve been on the road for 20 years, so I’m looking at some personal pursuits that don’t involve getting on an airplane. I want to be a better skier and a better sailor. So I’m going to focus on that a bit. But also, I spent almost 20 years in Latin America [before the Almond Board role], so I’m working on some small business ideas with some of my former colleagues to perhaps set up a type of business relationship with Brazil specifically.

—Mary Ellen Kuhn is executive editor of Food Technology ([email protected]).

Photo courtesy of Arla Food Ingredients

Photo courtesy of Arla Foods Ingredients

Photo courtesy of Arla Food Ingredients

Photo courtesy of Arla Foods Ingredients


Profiling Sports Consumers

Three distinct profiles of sports consumers were identified in a survey of 11,500 health-conscious consumers in 21 major markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, and Brazil. Arla Foods Ingredients broke out Performance Nutrition consumers (exercise strenuously at least three times a week and frequently choose foods and beverages designed to support athletic performance), Active Nutrition consumers (follow a relatively active lifestyle), and Lifestyle Nutrition consumers (do not prioritize exercise but have a keen interest in diet), each with different attitudes related to exercise, nutrition, and protein.

Performance Nutrition consumers were by far the most likely to be very particular about protein source. They were the group most interested in whey and pea protein and—unsurprisingly, given that they tend to be early adopters—the most receptive to novel protein sources such as insect, fungi, and lab-grown protein. Active Nutrition consumers were less willing than the Performance Nutrition group to compromise on taste and texture. They were also characterized by a tendency to combine protein sources. Lifestyle Nutrition consumers mirrored average consumers in terms of their protein preferences.

Achieving Ketosis

The popular ketogenic, or keto, diet focuses on consuming food that is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. Followed successfully, the diet will put the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Genomatica Inc. (Geno) recently published a study that demonstrated that its ketogenic ingredient, Avela (R)-1,3-Butanediol, effectively raised beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels associated with increased mental clarity and endurance and affirmed that it induced and sustained ketosis. (R)-1,3-Butanediol is recognized as an effective ketogenic ingredient, providing food and beverage companies a new way to meet consumer demand for nutritional ketosis.

Avela has a clinically demonstrated ability to provide sustained energy in the form of D-BHB ketone, an alternative energy source to glucose in humans. When (R)-1,3-Butanediol is ingested, it directly converts to D-BHB, the primary form humans can readily use for energy. After the final dose of Avela was administered, the cohort remained in ketosis for 4 hr, demonstrating a sustained elevation of BHB as an energy source.


Biotech startup Shiru has commercialized the first food ingredient developed using its patented artificial intelligence–powered discovery system. OleoPro is a plant protein–based fat ingredient for use in a range of alternative protein food products. It enables up to a 90% reduction in saturated fat while enhancing technical performance in alternative meats. The ingredient holds its shape at room temperature, browns when cooked, and delivers a juicy, fatty mouthfeel in plant-based meat applications. Griffith Foods is the first commercial partner for OleoPro.

HOWTIAN unveiled SoPure Galaxy-Series, a stevia product range specifically formulated to enhance dairy applications and meet growing consumer demand for healthier and more natural dairy products. The SoPure Galaxy-Series delivers a sweetness profile that is virtually identical to full sugar in yogurts; enhances milky notes and prolongs fruity flavors; has a rich, creamy mouthfeel when combined with bulking agents; and is clean label with zero calories.

Artemis International introduced an expanded CherryCraft line, a range of tart cherry extracts offering multiple standardized polyphenol levels. CherryCraft is unique in its ability to deliver not just simple juice or pomace powders, but a range of extracts with guaranteed polyphenol levels from 1% to 14%. Each extract guarantees precise polyphenol concentrations, enabling manufacturers to choose the specific level that aligns with their desired product benefits as well as meeting cost requirements.

Food tech startup Gavan Technologies leveraged its no-waste protein extraction platform to deliver FaTRIX, a leading-edge alternative fat solution. FaTRIX offers a series of high-performance, protein-based fat substitutes that serve as excellent alternatives to butter and other commonly used fats in a variety of bakery products. The patented, plant-based fat-protein matrix is designed to replicate the functionality of animal fat. It is fully sustainable, clean label, and slashes saturated fat by up to 80%. It is also free of trans fats. Gavan is promoting FaTRIX’s potential as a butter replacer for the bakery industry.

Sensegen launched its Exotic Flavors collection, which features six exotic, true-to-fruit flavors: lychee, guava, papaya, yuzu, dragon fruit, and violet. In line with Sensegen’s commitment to sustainability and biotechnology, the Exotic Flavors collection is produced by bioconversion, ensuring the highest quality and authenticity while minimizing the environmental impact of flavor production.


Brightseed and Blue Diamond have partnered to discover the untapped health potential of nonpareil California almonds. The results of this collaboration will inform Blue Diamond’s health innovations and programs, including consumer education initiatives to link almond consumption with specific health benefits.

Through a collaborative research program, Brightseed’s Forager artificial intelligence platform profiled Blue Diamond’s whole natural almonds and identified 188 predicted bioactive compounds with potential to impact several areas of human health, including mental wellness, metabolic health, and immunity.

Brightseed also recently announced the formation of a Bioactives Coalition, which facilitates interactions among food and health system leaders who champion the adoption of bioactive compounds into U.S. dietary guidelines. The Coalition will also work to build awareness of the scientifically supported benefits of bioactives to inform bioactive use and regulation in functional foods, beverages, and supplements.

Allied Blending announced an extensive expansion project at its Keokuk, Iowa, facility. The project will increase the size of the production plant by 50,000 sq ft. The new space will significantly increase plant capacity and create considerable gains in efficiency. Carl A. Nelson & Company of Burlington, Iowa, is building the project, which is slated to be operational in the second quarter of 2024.

RIBUS Inc. opened the doors to its first solely owned and operated production facility in Sparks, Nev. The company, previously based in St. Louis, moved its headquarters to Sparks earlier this year. The new plant is more than 15,000 sq ft in size and is organic and kosher certified, with Non-GMO, gluten free, halal, and SQF certifications pending.

Anderson Advanced Ingredients announced the publication of its study on AllSWEET allulose, which indicates that allulose suppresses glucose and insulin responses on its own and mitigates the response when consumed with sucrose. In a press release, allulose expert Nick Bellissimo, a Toronto Metropolitan University associate professor, offered the following comment on the research: “The study adds to a growing body of literature on the dampening effects of allulose consumption on glycemic and insulin responses. The results are impressive because allulose does not appear to behave like non-nutritive or low-calorie sweeteners. It appears to be unique in this respect.”

Univar Solutions has become an authorized distributor for Camlin Fine Sciences Ltd.’s aroma ingredients in the United States and Canada. Camlin Fine Sciences is a producer of the adorr vanillin range.

Voodoo Scientific, a company that works to help distillers deliver innovation, and Ginkgo Bioworks, which is building a platform for cell programming and biosecurity, announced Voodoo’s plans to leverage Ginkgo Enzyme Services to optimize an enzymatic solution to enable distillers to produce smooth, ultra-premium spirit products.

To support the development of the enzyme critical to Voodoo’s product, Ginkgo will leverage its extensive protein discovery and design capabilities to design and optimize the enzyme for a wide range of conditions in spirits manufacturing.

The Voodoo enzymatic solution targets and eliminates only the specific compounds that are responsible for the harshness of alcohol, while not affecting other components of the beverage’s flavor profile. It also does not require spirits producers to change their existing processes or equipment as it is added as a processing aid during fermentation, so it does not persist into the bottle.ft

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