Friday, January 18, 2019

Dairy Foods Winter Fancy Food Show Takeaway: It's Time to Get Seedy

Photo source: McCormick & Company Inc.

The Winter Fancy Food Show was held this past week in San Francisco. Dairy foods were prominent, with cheese having an overwhelming presence. This makes sense. Specialty cheeses are fancy foods. Artisan and better-for-you ice creams were also a noteworthy attraction. Let’s get more dairy foods mainstays to play in this space.

Here’s what was surprising at the Winter Fancy Food Show. At times I thought I was at Expo West, the annual natural products show held in early March in Anaheim. All the buzz words that dominate the healthy foods space are now integrated throughout the fancy food segment. Plant-based, cannabis, adaptogens, organic, no added sugar, these trends and more were observed. There was one subtle theme I kept observing that has not been well publicized. It’s the addition of seeds.

That’s right, seeds. Those crunchy, colorful, nutrient-dense reproductive components of plants. I noticed their addition in all types of foods and beverages, sometimes as a non-characterizing ingredient, but more often as the star attraction.

My observation was supported by the 2019 McCormick Flavor Forecast released Jan. 17, 2019. The flavor company identified “the must try flavor trend for 2019” as: The Need for Seed.

Photo source: McCormick & Company Inc.

“Little package. Giant punch! We’re talking seeds of the crunchy, citrusy, nutty, buttery and pungent form. It’s time the whole world started sprinkling, cracking, crusting, toasting and of course eating them on everything, like overnight coconut guava basil seed pudding, Cajun puffed lotus seed snack mix and gomasio, a Japanese black and white sesame seed seasoning blend. Seeds are food, fuel and flavor, and they give us texture, taste and wholesome goodness that makes both sweet and savory dishes pop.”

Seeds, of course, are not a new food. They’ve been consumed forever, with many traditional ethnic dishes relying on the taste and texture of varied seeds. While the health benefits are an obvious driver for the growing popularity of seeds today, their crunchy consistency and earthy flavors appeal to today’s adventurous consumers.

Fruits and nuts have long been added to all types of dairy products. Think pistachio pudding, Swiss almond cheese spread and butter pecan ice cream. Seeds, on the other hand, are a rather new inclusion, but one that is quickly gaining traction. 

Seeds—a plant-based food—are capable of turning an ordinary dairy food into an extraordinary dairy food: a specialty better-for-you food.

Photo source: McCormick & Company Inc.

“Plant-based ingredients, combined with dairy foods, can help Americans improve their intake of essential nutrients,” according to Jane Dummer, a registered dietitian, industry consultant, author of The Need for Seeds and a good friend. “They help to achieve the Dietary Guideline’s recommendation for consuming a mostly plant-based diet, while also meeting the two to three servings of dairy recommendation.

“Consumers want more convenient nutrient-dense snack options for their on-the-go lifestyle,” she says. “Seeds pack a punch of plant protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. For consumers who require nut-free or gluten-free, seeds are outstanding ingredient choices.”

Her book profiles the seven most common seed ingredients: chia, flax, hemp, quinoa, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower. “The reason I chose them is because of their outstanding health benefits, from decreasing inflammation to promoting digestive health,” she says. “Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, have similar health benefits, which makes this a winning combination for consumers wanting an everyday nutritious choice that is interesting and delicious.”

So add some seeds while keeping added sugars low or no.

That’s what Elli Complete is all about. This creamy whole milk quark—a fresh cheese made using an authentic German recipe—comes in a dome cup loaded with superfood inclusions for the consumer to mix into the no-added-sugar flavored quark. Elli Complete comes in three varieties. Banana Nut Bread has a dome filled with walnuts, white chia seeds, pecans and dark chocolate. The German Chocolate Cake dome contains walnuts, toasted coconut, dark chocolate and white chia seeds. Peanut Butter ‘N’ Jelly features a dome filled with peanuts, almonds and white chia seeds. Each single-serve container provides 20 to 25 grams of protein, 9 to 12 grams of net carbohydrates and 1.6 to 3.9 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.

Slingshot Foods patented a unique package design for its Slingshot Shake drinkable high-protein yogurt. First reported as a Daily Dose of Dairy new product innovation in 2015, Slighshot Shake is positioned as a complete breakfast. Developed by a former refrigerated smoothie yogurt executive who wanted a macronutrient-dense, simple ingredient portable breakfast, Slingshot Shake is an 11-ounce yogurt protein drink with a 1-ounce crunchy shot wrapped around the bottle neck and intended for the consumer to pour into the yogurt, shake and drink.

That shot is a patented plastic stick pouch filled with chia seeds, rolled oats and toasted almond bits. The beverage is made with low-fat yogurt enhanced with milk protein concentrate. The entire shake provides 18 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, probiotic cultures and prebiotic fiber.

Averaging about 300 calories per bottle, the shake comes in Blueberry, Peach, Simply Plain, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean and the most recent addition, Power Plant. This yogurt shake contains spinach, pineapple, ginger and turmeric. This past year the drink gained distribution across the country and its popularity is growing.

Seeds are being featured in ice cream, too.

Humphry Slocombe’s Black Sesame ice cream was named the Gold winner for “Outstanding Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Treat” in the Specialty Foods Association’s 2018 Sofi Awards. The flavor features
hand-toasted black sesame seeds and a little sesame oil.

New Re:Think ice cream, which will be featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy this week, is a better-for-you frozen treat with one-third the sugar of traditional ice cream. It is packed with whey protein and other better-for-you ingredients. One of the flavors in the pint lineup is Meyer Lemon Poppyseed. (featured)

Sonoma Creamery continues to grow its baked/dehydrated cheese concept. Last year the company introduced the Cheese Crisp Bar, which is savory snack bar baked from real cheese and simple ingredients. The Savory Seed variety includes pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

The company is now rolling out Sonoma Savory Seed Baked Cheese Toppers. Designed for sprinkling on salads and soups, or used as a crunchy layer in a sandwich, or just to snack on, the Toppers are cheesy, crunchy, keto-friendly, gluten-free, all natural and have zero sugar. They are made using 10-month aged parmesan and aged white cheddar and feature organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

 Mustard is a seed and Marin French showcased its new Petite Mustard triple-cream brie at the Winter Fancy Food Show. The soft cheese features the bold, nutty aromatic characteristics of black and brown whole mustard seeds on the inside and the added kick of flavor thanks to crushed mustard seeds on the exterior of the bloomy wheel.

Last year, PepsiCo rolled out Quaker Morning Go-Kit. The three refrigerated kits each contain a nuts and seeds trail mix, a nuts and seeds breakfast bar and Greek nonfat yogurt. Each kit is loaded with 18 grams of whole grains from nuts, seeds, oats, quinoa and more, without any artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. Banana Honey, Blueberry and Cranberry.

Let’s redefine the act of “being seedy,” and add some seeds to dairy foods in 2019! There's so many opportunities to be creative.

Hope to see many of you at Dairy Forum!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Ice Cream Innovations 2019: The Year for “Inspired Ice Cream”

Photo source: McConnell’s

Happy New Year! Hoping you had a great holiday season and are ready to get creative in 2019! I’m here to assist with innovation inspiration. Got an idea? A question? Interested in being a sponsor/advertiser to keep this innovation tool available to the industry? Please contact me--Donna Berry-- HERE.

Let’s kick off the New Year with a discussion on ice cream. With total retail ice cream sales relatively flat—this has been the story for decades—it’s time to face reality. Per capita consumption is declining and will likely continue on this path. It’s not as if consumers don’t crave, purchase and enjoy ice cream. But rather than eating large volumes of mediocre product, today they seek out premium product and enjoy it in smaller portions.

It’s called mindful eating. It’s something we all should be doing, according to most health experts.

The industry needs to recognize that growth of one brand or flavor comes at the expense of another. While basic vanilla and chocolate varieties are not going away, what grabs shoppers’ attention and gets them to buy is “Inspired Ice Cream.”
Visit DOUBLE H PLASTICS at ProFood Tech March 26-28, 2019, in Chicago. Booth #1031.

Trends both in the freezer and in other supermarket departments suggest there are six “inspirations” driving innovation in the ice cream category. With all innovations, the package plays a pivotal role in communicating the inspiration. Treat the package like a billboard and use it wisely.

Here are the six inspirations with a brief description, followed by a dozen recent rollouts exemplifying the Inspired Ice Cream movement. 

1. Locally Inspired: Sourcing ingredients—or other essentials, even the artwork that adorns the package-- from local businesses builds a connection with the shopper. The locality need not be nearby to the shopper. The shopper simply wants to know that the ice cream manufacturer supports its local community.    

2. Culinary Inspired: What’s cooking? The flavors of breakfast, lunch and dinner—or a chef’s secret ingredients--come alive in frozen desserts.

3. Globally Inspired: Full blown ethnic recipes, or melding something foreign with the familiar, provides the consumer with flavor adventure.

4. Seasonally Inspired: Go traditional or get bizarre. These limited-edition offerings invite shoppers to purchase.

5. Health/Diet Inspired: Stop focusing on simply the calorie and protein content of better-for-you pints. Speak to the shopper. Add extra value. Maybe eliminate the lactose or add probiotics for digestive health. What about including whole fruit or vegetable nutrition?

6. Sensory Inspired: It’s all about flavor and texture that lingers. From sweet meets heat (link HERE for some flavor combination inspiration) to chewy, crunchy, crackling and flavor bursts. Think of a swirl of bacon-infused, maple-flavored overnight oats. Other textures that linger include shredded coconut and citrus zest. Figs, pears and seeds/grains deliver unusual mouthfeels that ignite the senses.

Humphry Slocombe, one of San Francisco’s unconventional ice creameries, returns to The Winter Fancy Food Show, which kicks off this Sunday. (Hope to see you there.) After celebrating 10 years of crafting rebellious, ultra-premium and chef-driven ice cream creations and winning the 2018 Gold Sofi Award for its Black Sesame flavor, Co-founders Jake Godby and Sean Vahey are excited to share their plans for the New Year. Humphry Slocombe has established itself as a trailblazer for its use of inventive ingredients to create bold flavors that truly take the scoop to the next level, and the brand is excited to keep the decade-long momentum going with new flavors and experiences never seen before.

Located at booth 5582, Humphry Slocombe will unveil a surprise flavor as part of its partnership with the Emmy winning series Queer Eye. The flavor will represent the effervescent nature of the show and include an unexpected marriage of ingredients. Launching in March, the new flavor will be available in Humphry Slocombe scoop shops and select retailers. (Watch for it featured soon as a Daily Dose of Dairy.)

In addition, Humphry Slocombe will showcase a brand-new flavor: Strawberry Blondie, a strawberry ice cream embedded with white chocolate chip blondies.

Photo source: Double H Plastics

The company is also introducing a new single-serve cup option, which is a perfectly sized scoop featuring a lid with a built-in spoon, perfect for indulging in ice cream on the go. The new size will make its debut in four flavors: Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Malted Milk Chocolate, Secret Breakfast and Strawberry White Chocolate Chip.

Marietta, Ga.-based High Road Craft Ice Cream, which recently acquired Ciao Bella Gelato, has big plans for 2019. Executive Chef Keith Schroeder, co-founder of High Road with his wife Nicki, will be reinforcing what the two ice cream brands are best known for, and that is creating innovative flavors inspired by, and for, chefs.

“With our acquisition of Ciao Bella, we’ve found the perfect complement to the High Road Craft brand, helping to make us a broader player in the craft ice cream, gelato, sorbet and novelty categories,” says Keith. “We’re going back to focusing on the types of flavors that put our company on the map like Blueberry Ricotta, Matcha Coconut and Caramel Pecan.”

With the same uncompromising dedication to quality that High Road is known for, the Schroeders plan on returning the Ciao Bella brand to its origins with classic, high-end (yet playful) Italian-inspired flavors, such as Fior di Latte, Hazelnut, Espresso Gelati, and Pear & Peppercorn sorbetto, all packed in revamped sophisticated paper pints.

Among the many innovations and product introductions planned, High Road will be introducing the first superpremium Helados pint to the U.S. market. Helados La Neta will celebrate the flavors of native Mexico, including Horchata, Avocado and Mexican Chocolate. Watch for the line featured in the near future as a Daily Dose of Dairy.

Keith is often asked how he and the High Road chefs come up with their creative flavors.

“Listening to chefs and customers has always driven flavor decisions,” he explains. “We’re always sensitive to hearing what flavors, mouthfeel and taste experiences people enjoy, and then going out of our way to use ingredients that speak to them.

“I enjoy shining a light on great cuisines, ingredients and foodstuffs from around the world,” he says. “There’s a language of food rich with stories to be told, and those are conversations we want to be engaged in.” 

Bourbon Burnt Sugar, for example, gives High Road a chance to highlight sorghum, an under-appreciated sweetener with roots in the Deep South. Cherry Almond Chip speaks to the classic pairing of dark cherries with almonds, “whose respective flavor compounds work together like a great jazz chord,” explains Keith, ever the creative food scientist (and author of the James Beard Award-winning book, Mad Delicious: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing).

Whether from Mexico, Italy, the American South, Africa or Asia, or beyond, High Road Craft Brands’ ingredients are sourced the world over. Keith and Nicki have introduced a series of sourcing journeys, traveling the globe not just to discover the finest ingredients, but to interact with the people who grow them, the local flavors they produce and the stories they tell.

“On our recent vanilla sourcing journey to Tanzania we spent a week living, eating, dancing, exploring and harvesting with our vanilla-sourcing partner,” says Nicki. “We didn’t speak the language, but we sure felt the joy they shared, and we hope that’s the emotion people get from the ice cream.” 

Salt & Straw, an Oregon-based creamery with stores up and down the west coast, with a few in San Francisco--make plans to check one out during a break from the Winter Fancy Food Show—shows us that anything is possible in ice cream. .

This past winter holiday season the company served a five-course Thanksgiving dinner, but in ice cream form. Offerings included savory courses such as Salted Caramel Turkey, which featured buttery turkey brittle folded into a turkey fat caramel ice cream, and Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing, which was sage-infused ice cream with cornbread cookies and spiced peach jam.

On the sweeter side, there was Sweet Potato Casserole featuring maple pecan ice cream with a light ribbon of maple syrup marshmallow fluff and homemade candied pecans. Spiced Goat Cheese & Pumpkin Pie was a goat cheese-flavored ice cream with swirls of pumpkin pie filling. For the vegan at the table, there was Roasted Cranberry Sauce Sorbet made from roasted cranberries, cranberry juice and candied cranberry jam, all made from Washington State-sourced berries.

There have been many retail packaged “Inspired Ice Creams” to hits freezers the past few months.

Serendipity 3 is a dynamic new line that takes inspiration from the namesake iconic New York City restaurant. The pint line is rolling out in eight varieties.

They are:
  • Birthday Cake: Cake-flavored ice cream with swirls of pink frosting, cake pieces and sprinkles
  • Café Espresso Chip: Coffee ice cream with chocolate chunks
  • Forbidden Broadway Sundae: Chocolate-flavored ice cream with brownie pieces and fudge swirls
  • Frrrozen Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate-flavored ice cream with whipped cream swirl and chocolate shavings
  • Humble Pie: Peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter swirls, chocolate chunks and graham pieces
  • Outrageous Banana Split: Banana-flavored ice cream with fudge swirls, walnuts and strawberries
  • Strawberry Fields Sundae: Strawberry ice cream with strawberries and cheesecake pieces
  • Vanilla Vogue: Vanilla ice cream with Madagascar vanilla

New Peekaboo Organic Ice Cream with Hidden Veggies is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Jessica Levinson, who wanted to get more vegetables into her family’s iet. After much tinkering, she created five flavors of Peekaboo. They are: Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower, Cotton Candy with Hidden Beets, Mint Chip with Hidden Spinach, Strawberry with Hidden Carrot, and Vanilla with Hidden Zucchini.

Sensory-inspired Slow Churned Triple Filled, which is sold by Nestle under both the Dreyer’s and Edy’s brands, is a half-the-fat ice cream that contains three cores of gooey deliciousness. The four varieties are:
  • Chocolate Fudge Cores features cookies and cream and chocolate ice creams with three chocolate fudge cores. 
  • Creamy Chocolatey Cores features red velvet and vanilla ice creams with three chocolate fudge cores. 
  • Rich Caramel Cores features cookie dough ice cream with three caramel cores. 
  • Salted Caramel Cores features caramel and vanilla ice creams with three salted caramel cores. 
Lactose-free formulating and labeling should be considered for all dairy foods innovations, as digestive health is on top of mind among consumers. By eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods, you may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives, when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose.

That’s the goal of Beckon Ice Cream: to enable lactose-sensitive ice cream lovers the opportunity to have real dairy ice cream once again. The company uses traditional ice cream ingredients, including milk and cream. With the help of added lactase, the company eliminates lactose from the product. This process also adds some natural sweetness to the ice cream. Beckon pints come in five flavors: Chocolate, Espresso, Mint Chip, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip and Vanilla.

Locally, culinary and health-inspired Culture Republick from Unilever is a line of probiotic ice cream pints. Beyond having live probiotic cultures in the ice cream, the brand aims to support culture in everything it does. It collaborated with emerging artists to design each pint, giving these artists a canvas for their work, complete with their signature and information on pack. Additionally, 10% of the brand’s profits will support the arts in local communities, with all charitable donations made possible by the Unilever Foundation.

“Culture Republick was created with a distinct purpose in mind,” says Leslie Miller, marketing director of ice cream at Unilever. “We believe that humanity could use a bit more brightness. By combining our passions for culture and ice cream, we intend to do our part in making people feel more balanced, inspired and connected.”

Culture Republick is currently available in seven unique flavors and is the first premium light ice cream brand with probiotics. Each pint contains three billion live active cultures, 400 to 500 calories, 16 to 18 grams of protein, 11 to 12 grams of fiber and no artificial sweeteners.

The unexpected flavor combinations are:

  • Chocolate & Cherry: chocolate light ice cream with extra cocoa mixed with cherry light ice cream containing Fair Trade Bordeaux cherry chunks. Pack art is by Hawnuh Lee, a designer and illustrator based in Portland. She creates cohesive visual stories by breaking elements down into designs, textures and tones.
  • Cold Brew & Chocolate Chi: cold brew light ice cream made with Fair Trade Brazilian and Colombian coffee extract and loaded with chocolate chips. Pack art is by Paulina Ho, a California-born, Texas-raised, and New York City-based artist who incorporates a wide spectrum of images and symbols, leaving the viewer to connect them and create more meaning.
  • Lemon & Graham: sweet lemon light ice cream, made with real lemon puree and lemon juice concentrate, and textured with graham cracker crumb swirl. Pack art by is Jason Naylor, an artist, designer and creative director based in Brooklyn. His street art murals carry a distinct style of upbeat messages and colorful visuals.
  • Matcha & Fudge: matcha tea light ice cream with swirls of fudge. Pack art is by Fiona Chinkan, a visual artist based in Brooklyn, who uses lines and forms to express herself and interpret the world around her. Her style pulls inspiration from the embellishments of graffiti writing.
  • Milk & Honey: sweet cream light ice cream swirled with wildflower honey. Pack art is by Joe Geis, an artist, designer and woodworker based in Brooklyn. Joe’s artwork is all about movement and balance.
  • Pistachio & Caramel: chopped pistachios in a pistachio light ice cream with added swirls of salty caramel. Pack art is by Teri Kaplan Trigalo, a creative content director based in New York City. Born in South Africa, Teri has been painting ever since she could hold a brush, now creating large-scale abstract pieces inspired by her surroundings.
  • Turmeric Chai & Cinnamo: turmeric blended with a chai spice light ice cream with swirls of cinnamon streusel. Pack art is by Sarah Dewlin, a Brooklyn-based artist who specializes in unique geometric shapes and compositions, with natural edges and organic imperfections.

Brazilian artists were enlisted by Häagen-Dazs to create this past holiday season’s ice cream cakes. The brand’s global campaign is all about being “extraordinarily luxurious.” The company decided to showcase a pure, refined cake as if it were a precious gem that you discover when opening a box. Simplicity was a key driver in order to focus on the quality of ingredients.

There were two cake varieties offered this year. Belgian Chocolate & Vanilla is soft brownie with crispy pieces paired with Belgian chocolate and vanilla ice creams. The exterior is textured with praline iced mousse and given a twist of originality with a mango and passionfruit confit.

Frozen Yogurt & Raspberry Sorbet is crunchy biscuit spiced with ginger and cinnamon paired frozen yogurt and raspberry sorbet, which gives it a light touch. The surprise center is bursting with a delicate jasmine cream lifted by a berry confit.

The artists, the Campana Brothers, describe the cakes as, “Intriguing is the idea of a surface that stimulates all of the senses. The look of a new facet of cutting a diamond stimulates the ultimate sense of real luxury, which becomes a feeling of crescendos. Like an avalanche of sensation, like a wave that wants to break, but keeps the highest position for being able to enjoy the shape and the taste explosion.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams is launching the Winter Collection at the Winter Fancy Food Show (Booth 6240). Made completely from scratch using Central Coast grass-grazed milk and cream, the seasonal flavors were inspired by sensory-stimulating citrus fruits. The three flavors are:

  • Blood Orange features the distinct and intense orange-meets-berry flavors of Moro blood oranges.
  • Vanilla Grapefruit combines grapefruit’s tart sweetness with smooth, sweet, vanilla-scented cream. 
  • Winter Pear Crisp blends a delicate purée of D'Anjou pears with a swirl of homemade pear jam and crispy oatmeal crumbles.

And here are two first-of-their-kind ice creams. NightFood Inc., a snack food company dedicated to providing consumers delicious, better-for-you, sleep-friendly choices for evening snacking, is rolling out Nighttime Ice Cream. Each pint has a fun, nighttime-themed name, and delivers ice cream indulgence with a sleep-friendly recipe for both kids and adults. The eight flavors are: After-Dinner Mint Chip, Breakfast in Bed (maple-flavored waffle), Cherry Eclipse, Cold-Brew Decaf, Cookies n’ Dreams, Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate and Milk & Cookie Dough.

Nighttime ice cream means that NightFood’s team of sleep experts made sleep-friendly decisions regarding the recipe, according to Sean Folkson, CEO. Cherry Eclipse, for example, is made with nutrient-rich tart cherries, one of the few foods naturally high in melatonin (the hormone that triggers sleep) and the coffee ice cream is decaf.

UpStar Ice Cream now offers Keto Pint. This diet-inspired ice cream will be featured this coming week as a Daily Dose of Dairy. In the meantime, if you are at the Winter Fancy Food Show, you can experience the product firsthand in the Incubator Village.

Hope to see you in San Francisco!
Visit DOUBLE H PLASTICS at ProFood Tech March 26-28, 2019, in Chicago. Booth #1031.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Dairy Foods Flavor Forecast for 2019

Inviting. Make that a key criteria in flavor (and aroma) selection for your dairy foods innovation this coming year. Ask yourself if the product invites the shopper to try it.

While label claims—such as lactose free, high protein and contains probiotics—and a product’s story—everything from the dairy farmers to ingredient sourcing--invite shoppers to explore new entries in the refrigerated and frozen dairy cases, when appropriate—flavor—is often the real enticement. This is especially true for limited-time offerings, including seasonal items. While pumpkin pie yogurt and hot cocoa ice cream both sound quite festive, Grandma’s Butter Crusted Pumpkin Pie and Melty Marshmallow Cup of Cocoa invite trial.

Perry’s Ice Cream is doing just that with Elf Trash, a white chocolate ice cream with red and green fudge candies, fudge-covered pretzels, fudge-covered peanuts and praline peanuts. The pint package is whimsical and features the fourth generation, family-owned ice cream company’s head elf.

Pierre’s Ice Cream Company is also doing this with its new seasonal Mint Night Snack Premium Ice Cream. This 1.5-quart package is peppermint and vanilla ice cream swirled together with special chocolate candy cane sandwich cookies.

I have to share this non-food innovation that exemplifies how enticing the senses invites shoppers to purchase. For this winter season, Kentucky Fried Chicken, in partnership with Enviro-Log, is rolling out a firelog that smells like the Colonel’s famous fried chicken. The new limited-edition 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog is said to create a delightful, hearth-warming and hunger-inducing experience. (Enough said.)

So what are the three flavor and aroma themes driving innovation?

1. Culinary Inspiration. Not sure if a bucket of KFC’s Original Recipe qualifies as culinary inspiration to everyone, but nonetheless, it fits the bill. What’s really trending is the inclusion of cooking terms—and flavors—in product descriptions. Think poached pears, smoked pecans, caramelized apples, grilled pineapple and roasted cocoa nibs.

Coolhaus offers ice cream flavors such as Brown Butter Candied Bacon (brown butter base ice cream with brown sugar candied bacon), Fried Chicken and Waffles (brown butter maple ice cream with maple candied chicken skins and caramelized waffles, pictured in scoop below) and Nutella Toasted Almond Chocolate (hazelnut ice cream base with toasted almonds).

Each of these flavor systems would work well in spreadable cheese, or a sour cream or yogurt dip. Think about a savory dual-compartment yogurt.

“Don’t let the familiarity of dairy or the success of plant milks obscure the opportunities in this marketplace, given the culinary heritage, indulgence factor, usage rates and consumer appeal that makes dairy the cream on top for many different applications,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, which recently published a report titled “Dairy Innovation: Culinary Trend Tracking Series.” “The very fact of dairy familiarity gives chefs and other food makers license to thrill with creative new recipes and products that take dairy to new realms: from haute French-flavored butters and crème fraiche to Middle Eastern labné to Japanese ice cream treats.”

Lactalis Group is rolling out Président Gourmet Pairings. The line is debuting in three flavor combinations: Feta with Roasted Red Pepper, Blue Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Aged White Cheddar with Apple Chutney. The smooth and creamy cheeses with culinary-inspired gourmet toppings are for spreading and dipping. They come in 7-ounce tubs intended for merchandising in the specialty cheese department. The ready-to-serve packaging is designed with a clear, semi-circle, cut-out window for visible toppings and a clean aesthetic for easy display.

This brings me to the next flavor trend.

2. An Ethnic Twist. This is not full-blown international cuisine. This is taking a familiar dairy base and adding a touch of something from over the border, across the ocean or a flight away. Middle Eastern cuisine is on fire in foodservice and shoppers want to explore these tastes at home. Think apple chutney, cardamom-infused honey and curried pistachios. Ethnic also includes a touch of heat, just a touch. Maybe it’s suggested by terms such as kick, sharp or tangy.

And move over cold brew to make room for matcha. This is not in beverage only. Expect to see more matcha in everything from yogurt to ice cream.

The New Nordic Dairy Company produces traditional Scandinavian strained yogurt in Upstate New York. The original nonfat line comes in Blueberry & Lavender, Elderflower, Gooseberries, Plain and Sea Buckthorn varieties. This year the company added three flavored whole milk options--Black Currant, Matcha, and Raspberry & Rosewater—all touting wellness benefits. Black currants contain twice the antioxidants of blueberries and four times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges. Matcha is potent in antioxidants and amino acids. Rosewater is beauty potion with anti-inflammatory qualities.

Speaking of rosewater, it is a flavor gaining traction in food and beverage. So is rosé wine.

This brings me to the third and final flavor theme.

3. A Touch of Nostalgia. This theme includes boozy flavors. Not so much the modern-day craze of rosé wine, rather the bootlegging whiskeys from around the U.S. Also part of this theme are flavors reminiscent of simpler times, such as cotton candy and root beer floats.

Earlier this year, General Mills offered Yoplait Tastes of Summer. The seasonal line included Original Cherry Sno Cone and Whips Root Beer Float. Chobani has launched the Gimmies kids’ Greek yogurt snack line. The Crunch concept includes Poppin’ Cotton Candy.

In addition to Culinary Inspiration, an Ethnic Twist and A Touch of Nostalgia, expect to see more flavor concepts in dairy foods to include whole grains and seeds—as an inclusion or mix-in—often coated with additional flavor. Think chocolate-coated quinoa clusters, pralined pecans with chia, and chipotle-infused honey nuts and oats.

And while I would like to say that unicorns and purple foods are a dying fad, all indicators suggest they will continue to gain momentum in 2019, but only in small batches and limited editions. Think moon milk. Read about it HERE. You got this dairy folks!

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently launched its second annual IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. This is an innovation pitch to help emerging and investment-ready food start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators gain visibility and make strategic connections to help advance the science of food and its positive impact on the sustainability of the global food supply. Link HERE for more information and an application to participate. Enrollment continues through January 10, 2019. 
Throughout the competition, finalists are selected in two stages, with six finalists chosen to participate in a six-week mentoring program where they receive guidance from business experts. From there, finalists are selected to present their innovations in a high-profile pitch competition at IFT19 in New Orleans on June 4, 2019. A panel of prestigious judges representing influential sectors of the food and related industries will select the recipient of the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize.

IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge session attendees at IFT19 will be asked to select an IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor People’s Choice awardee for a cash prize of $5,000. In addition to the cash prizes, other services and products for entrepreneurial advancement will also be included.

IFT19 is an annual event hosted by IFT that brings more than 17,000 science of food professionals together--including scientists, researchers, academics, ingredient, technology and manufacturing companies--with the intention to inspire and transform collective knowledge into innovative solutions that help advance our planet’s food safety, nutrition and sustainability.

In order to help me best serve the industry, please spare five minutes to answer a quick seven-question survey about your experience with Daily Dose of Dairy/ For every survey completed, I will donate 50 cents to The Great American Milk Drive. Please link HERE to the survey.

About The Great American Milk Drive: Each year, 46 million people, including 12 million children, rely on Feeding America food banks for regular access to milk, which is one of the most-requested, but least-donated, items. On average, these food banks are only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. The Great American Milk Drive was created to help address this specific need, and is the first-of-its-kind national program.

By completing this brief survey (link HERE), you will assist with providing more hungry families with fresh U.S. milk. Your feedback in the survey will also assist me with improving Daily Dose of Dairy/ in 2019. I will share survey results with sponsors for them to better understand how their support and investment is appreciated by the industry.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovations 2018: A Year in Review

The end of the year comes with reflection. What was accomplished? What could have been? Where are the opportunities? To read about the current State of the Dairy Industry, link HERE to an article I recently wrote on the topic for Food Business News.

Some of the most impressive new products in 2018 were in the fluid category. One of my favorites is JoeFroyo Functional Cold Brew, which combines the kick of caffeine from cold brew coffee with probiotics and protein from drinkable yogurt. It’s true out-of-the-box innovation. JoeFroyo features 15 grams of dairy protein per 12-ounce serving and six live and active probiotic cultures, all while being 100% lactose free. The beverage is made using high-pressure processing, which extends shelf-life without any chemical preservatives. The beverage comes in the ready-to-drink format, as well as an over-ice version (via one-gallon jug for pour overs or a 2.5-gallon bag-in-box to be used in dairy dispensers) and a frozen blended dispensed version. A 12-ounce ready-to-drink bottle contains 270 to 290 calories, 3 to 4 grams of fat, 27 to 28 grams of sugar, and 15 to 16 grams of protein, depending on variety, of which there are three. They are: Espresso, Latte and Mocha. The protein content gets a boost from the addition of milk protein isolate and whey.

Shamrock Farms is livening up the milk and beverage department with Rockin’ Protein Energy, the latest innovation in the company’s extensive line of Rockin’ branded protein-enhanced milk products. The new refrigerated beverages combine the naturally occurring caffeine from coffee with a whopping 30 grams of high-quality dairy protein for a powerful one-two punch ideal for sustained energy. Rockin’ Protein Energy is made with real Shamrock Farms milk so it’s a great source of protein and nutrients, while being low-carbohydrate and lactose free and having no added sugar. Rockin’ Protein Energy will be available in U.S. convenience stores this January in three flavors: Café Latte, Caramel Latte and Mocha Latte. The beverage comes in 12-ounce plastic bottles and contain 190 to 200 calories.

Targeting the morning daypart, Organic Valley introduced Breakfast Balance. In 2015, Organic Valley introduced Organic Balance, an all-organic, fair trade milk protein shake designed for busy working women who wanted a healthy, delicious and convenient option for energy and nutrition in the morning. The product has been reformulated and repositioned in response to consumer preferences and retailer interest. New Organic Valley Breakfast Balance now contains 30% less sugar, but it’s still loaded with 16 grams of protein and 40% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, all from clean, smooth, delicious and real organic milk from Organic Valley’s 2,000 family farms.

The packaging has been redesigned to emphasize the use occasion: an on-the-go breakfast that is packed with enough nutrition for the most important meal of the day. What hasn’t changed is that Breakfast Balance is still lactose- and gluten-free, still shelf-stable, and like all Organic Valley products, never contains GMOs, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or artificial sweeteners. The shake comes in 11-ounce plastic bottles in two flavors: Dark Chocolate and Vanilla. One bottle has a suggested retail price of $2.99; a four-pack, $10.99; and a 24-pack, $24.99.
For younger consumers, Nestle USA rolled out Nesquik SuperBreakfast protein breakfast milk drink. Made with real milk, the shelf-stable drink contains no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors, and no high-fructose corn syrup. The drink comes in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors in 8-ounce plastic bottles, which are sold in six packs. Thanks to the addition of milk protein concentrate, each bottle contains 12 grams of protein and much more, including calcium and vitamins A and D.

What the first three product lines offer is a real dairy milk beverage that is also lactose free. This is something to consider when innovating in the dairy beverage sector. By eliminating lactose, your innovation may keep those shoppers who avoid lactose in the dairy milk category.

A shout out goes to all the fluid milk processors who started offering lactose-free options in 2018. I hope many more follow this coming year. I was recently asked by a dairy if they were to only offer one or two lactose-free options, what would I recommend. I suggest whole milk first, followed by chocolate whole milk, as whole milk is the only fat level of fluid milk posting retail sales growth in the U.S. Also in 2018, whole fat took the number-one share spot among fat levels. 

Congrats to Clover Sonoma, a third-generation family-owned and operated dairy that entered the lactose-free milk category with a full range of products. The Non-GMO Project Verified lactose-free milk line comes in whole milk, 2% reduced-fat, 1% low-fat and fat-free white, as well as a chocolate whole milk. Clover Sonoma adds lactase enzyme to fresh milk, which breaks down the lactose into two more easily digested sugars: glucose and galactose. The half-gallon gable-top cartons retail for about $4.99.

Lactose-free formulating and labeling should be considered for all dairy foods innovations, as digestive health is on top of mind among consumers. And as mentioned, by eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods, you may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives, when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose.

That’s the goal of Beckon Ice Cream: to enable lactose-sensitive ice cream lovers the opportunity to have real dairy ice cream once again. The company uses traditional ice cream ingredients, including milk and cream. With the help of added lactase, the company eliminates lactose from the product. This process also adds some natural sweetness to the ice cream. Beckon pints come in five flavors--Chocolate, Espresso, Mint Chip, Sea Salt Chocolate Chip and Vanilla—and retail for about $5.99.

Building on the digestive health theme, Unilever developed Culture Republick, a probiotic cultured ice cream that supports art culture by featuring the designs of emerging artists on the pint packages. Culture Republick comes in seven unique flavors, with each pint containing three billion live active cultures, 400 to 500 calories, 16 to 18 grams of protein, 11 to 12 grams of fiber and no artificial sweeteners. Flavor combinations are: chocolate and cherry, cold brew coffee and chocolate chip, lemon and graham cracker crumb, matcha tea and fudge, sweet cream milk and honey, pistachio and caramel, and turmeric chai with cinnamon.

Though not lactose-free---something definitely to consider based on the ingredients and process--Wells Enterprises impressed this year with its rollout of the Chilly Cow better-for-you ice cream brand. Another first, and so far only-of-its-kind, Chilly Cow is made with ultra-filtered milk, which boosts protein content while providing for 55% fewer calories, 70% less fat and 60% less sugar than regular ice cream. The new brand comes in seven flavors, as a two-pack of half pints and in novelty bars. The flavors are: Brown Butter Salted Caramel, Chocolate Brownie Batter, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies N’ Cream, Mint Dark Chocolate Chip, Sweet Cream Peanut Butter and Vanilla Graham Swirl. An 8-ounce tub flags that it provides 12 to 13 grams of protein, depending on flavor.

Turkey Hill shook up the novelty case with the roll out of Decadent Delights. The new line of indulgent, sophisticated treats blends premium ice cream with an abundance of fruit to create a four-flavor selection of bars and three flavors of individual-serving parfaits. The parfaits come in three flavors: Lemon Blueberry, Mixed Berry and Strawberry, with each 4-ounce cup containing 250 to 270 calories, 12 to 12 grams of fat and 2 to 3 grams of protein, depending on variety.

The Decadent Delights bars include Cherry, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Coconut and Tropical Mango. Each flavor is tailored for audiences looking for an indulgent dessert packed with fruit, chocolate and other premium ingredients.

Another noteworthy frozen innovation is Peekaboo Organic Ice Cream with Hidden Veggies. The new pint concept comes in five varieties: Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower, Cotton Candy with Hidden Beets, Mint Chip with Hidden Spinach, Strawberry with Hidden Carrot and Vanilla with Hidden Zucchini.

On the cultured side of the refrigerated dairy case, Darling Foods impresses with its Darling Pickle Dips, a line of refrigerated dips made from a cream cheese and white bean base. The base is blended with pickled vegetables, herbs and spices into four varieties: Fiery Jalapeno & Roasted Tomato, Original Dill Pickle, Spicy Pickle and White Cheddar & Mustard. The cream cheese gives the dips richness, while the pureed beans provide a slightly chunkier texture than most creamy dips. Each variety has some taste of dill pickle without being overwhelming.

RifRaf Ricotta Cups is another noteworthy first. This snack combines spoonable, lightly cultured whole milk ricotta and a sidecar of adventurously flavored jams and honeys. RifRaf Ricotta Cups come in five flavors: Meyer Lemon, Serrano Pepper Honey, Strawberry Balsamic, Sun-Dried Tomato and Wildflower Honey. The ricotta is made from milk from grass-fed cows, with each cup providing 10 grams of protein. The product comes in 4.6-ounce dual compartment cups and retails for $3.39.

DeJong Cheese is rolling out Cream Cheese & Cooking. These multi-use recloseable squeeze pouches feature flavored cream cheeses intended for use as a meat or fish topping, or to be used in the creation of sauces or other creative cooking applications. There’s a chili curry-flavored cream cheese for steak and a tandoori flavor for chicken. For fish, there’s furikake-flavored cream cheese.

Longevity Diet Foods introduced a range of health and wellness yogurts enriched with functional ingredients. All three lines are 2% milkfat and plain in flavor. Each line includes a cow, goat and sheep milk option.

The Longevity π line is enriched with grape polyphenols, powerful antioxidants with multiple functions, including promoting anti-aging and boosting the immune system. Longevity m is enriched with ceremonial green tea catechins, powerful antioxidants with multiple functions, including boosting metabolism. Matcha also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is known to impact brain function by both relaxing and helping concentrate at the same time. Longevity µ is enriched with inulin and chios µastic, both of which are associated with having a positive impact on the gastrointestinal system.

Keto diet-friendly foods will be a big call out in 2019. It’s all about fat and protein, and milkfat and dairy proteins make for delicious innovations. When carefully crafted, no-added-sugar claims are possible.

Peak Yogurt is doing that with its 17% milkfat, cream-on-top triple cream yogurt. It’s rich, creamy and satiating, so it doesn’t require sugar or other additives to satisfy and fuel the mind and body, according to the company. The plain, unsweetened variety comes in a 5-ounce cup and contains 270 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and a mere 4 grams of total carbohydrates (solely from inherent lactose). There are also two flavored options: Strawberry and Vanilla. They are low-carb and “keto-ish” with 260 or 270 calories, 21 to 22 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 10 to 11 grams of sugar. The latter comes from the inherent lactose as well some added cane sugar.

Siggis, the maker of Icelandic yogurt with simple ingredients and not a lot of sugar, continues to impress with siggi’s Simple Sides. The brand’s new product line brings together whole milk yogurt and simple, no-added-sugar mix-ins for a nourishing, wholesome snack with more protein than sugar in every cup. The four varieties are: honey yogurt with dried figs and walnuts, plain yogurt with muesli and currants, vanilla yogurt with almonds and dried cherries, and vanilla yogurt with dried coconut and cacao nibs. The product varieties contain, on average, 15 grams of protein and 11 grams of sugar per 5.3-ounce serving, offering a more positive nutritional profile amidst the traditionally sugar-filled yogurt with mix-ins product segment, which averages 18 grams of sugar per 5.3-ounce serving, according to the company.

Powerful, a four-year-old brand credited with launching the brogurt category (manly yogurt), continues to shake up the refrigerated dairy case with new Greek yogurt-based high-protein smoothie pouches. The pouch product has a resealable cap and targets consumers looking for a nutritious, satiating, grab-and-go snack. Milk protein concentrate enables each 9-ounce pouch to deliver 20 grams of dairy protein. With no added sugar and made with only natural ingredients, including 2% milk, each pouch contains 170 to 180 calories, 4 grams of fat and 11 to 12 grams of inherent sugar, depending on variety. The fruit base includes chicory inulin, erythritol and stevia, which enables a no-added-sugar claim. The line made its debut early in the year in Coffee, Mixed Berry and Strawberry Banana varieties and was quickly picked up by small and large retailers across the U.S. The suggested retail price for a single pouch is $2.19.

Innovation in the cheese sector focused mostly on new formats—and positionings--of old favorites, with snacking and protein the focus.
Laurels Farm, for example, grew its eatlean Protein Cheese brand. The eatlean cheese is made just like any other regular cheddar using natural ingredients by real cheesemakers on a real dairy farm, according to the company. It is, however, lactose-free, with a 100-gram serving containing 169 calories, 3 grams of fat and 37 grams of protein. Regular cheddar only contains about 25 grams of protein. The eatlean Protein Cheese comes in many formats, including snack bars, and most recently, Protein Cheese Shaker. It’s dried and grated eatlean cheese and marketed as a way to add flavor and protein to prepared foods. In this format, it is 66% protein. The shaker product comes in original and smoked varieties. 

Tillamook introduced Sauce Starter, which is described as “real cheese meets expertly blended spices to give you creamy, homemade cheese sauce in half the time.” Sauce Starter is a 6.5-ounce package of shredded cheese with a packet that contains seasonings and other saucy ingredients, namely emulsifying and stabilizing agents. The consumer combines the cheese and dry mix with one cup of cold 2% milk. The mixture should be stirred over medium heat until the cheese melts. It makes 1.5 cups of sauce. There are four varieties: Aged Cheddar (sharp and extra sharp cheddar with parmesan), Creamy Alfredo (white cheddar, parmesan and Monterey jack with a hint of garlic and nutmeg), Spicy Queso (medium jack, pepper jack and habanero jack with a dash of habanero pepper and garlic seasoning) and Three Cheese (medium cheddar, Colby jack and Monterey jack). The package has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
While many cheese snack combo kits debuted this year, one that was particularly impressive came from Eggland’s Best. Each snack pack contains an Eggland’s Best hard-cooked and peeled egg, along with cheese and one other food in a portable and convenient snack tray. The one that caught my eye includes olives and feta cheese, as this trio has not been offered before. The other combination snack packs include bacon and cheddar cheese, chocolate-covered almonds and cheddar cheese, and salame and provolone cheese. A single-serve pack contains 10 to 20 grams of protein and sells for about $3.29.

Congratulations to all companies who invest and innovate to keep dairy foods relevant to today’s consumers.

In order to help me best serve the industry, please spare five minutes to answer a quick seven-question survey about your experience with Daily Dose of Dairy/ For every survey completed, I will donate 50 cents to The Great American Milk Drive. Please link HERE to the survey.

About The Great American Milk Drive: Each year, 46 million people, including 12 million children, rely on Feeding America food banks for regular access to milk, which is one of the most-requested, but least-donated, items. On average, these food banks are only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. The Great American Milk Drive was created to help address this specific need, and is the first-of-its-kind national program.

By completing this brief survey (link HERE), you will assist with providing more hungry families with fresh U.S. milk. Your feedback in the survey will also assist me with improving Daily Dose of Dairy/ in 2019. I will share survey results with sponsors for them to better understand how their support and investment is appreciated by the industry.