Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Whole Scoop: Ice Cream Trends and Disruptions in 2022

 

Photo source: The International Dairy Foods Association

All charts are sourced to: The International Dairy Foods Association's 2022 survey conducted with Research America Inc.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) hosted the 38th annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party on the National Mall on June 22nd after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This summertime event—always held in June, National Ice Cream Month--is for members of Congress, their families, Capitol Hill staff and other special guests. IDFA members donated more than 200 three-gallon tubs of ice cream and 750 novelties to the event, which also featured sustainable cups and utensils to put a focus on the industry's sustainability goals. Representatives from IDFA member companies traveled to Washington, D.C., for the event. The group also met with members of Congress to advocate on key dairy industry policy priorities, including workforce issues, supply chain challenges and improving trade access for dairy exporters. 

“The return of the IDFA Ice Cream Party is the biggest scoop on Capitol Hill in years,” said IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes. “We always say ice cream is as bipartisan as you can get.”

Here are some general ice cream stats: 

  • In 2021, ice cream makers in the U.S. churned out more than 1.3 billion gallons of ice cream.
  • The average American eats about 20 pounds of ice cream each year, or about 4 gallons.
  • Fortune Business Insights estimates the global ice cream market will reach $97.8 billion in 2027, up from $71.5 billion in 2021. This is a 37% jump in less than a decade.
  • U.S. ice cream makers contribute $13.1 billion to the U.S. economy and support about 28,800 dairy industry jobs, according to IDFA’s Dairy Delivers economic impact report.
  • The majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been in business for more than 50 years. Many are still family-owned businesses.


The Whole Scoop
Earlier this year, IDFA partnered with Research America Inc., to survey America’s love for all things ice cream and frozen desserts. This year’s survey is the most comprehensive to date, polling major national and regional ice cream makers and processors from IDFA’s membership (n=132), as well as hundreds of smaller scoop shops and retail ice cream makers from the North American Ice Cream Association, in addition to 1,002 American consumers. 

America’s favorite flavors depend on who you ask--ice cream makers or consumers—according to the survey. With both groups, Chocolate, Vanilla and Cookies N’ Cream remain the top-three flavors in the country, mirroring results from the 2017 IDFA-Research America survey.

Top-Five Flavors Among Ice Cream Makers and Scoop Shops:
  1. Cookies N’ Cream
  2. Vanilla
  3. Chocolate 
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip 
  5. Strawberry
Top Flavors Among Consumers: 




“America’s love for ice cream knows no bounds,” said Dykes. “Comforting and satisfying as an indulgent treat, ice cream production and consumption grew throughout the COVID pandemic and sales continue to set a blazing pace at grocery, scoop shops and corner stores.” 





Highlights from the survey include: 
  • Waffle cones beat out sugar cones 32% to 12% among consumers, but 37% of consumers prefer to eat their ice cream out of a bowl. 
  • Chocolate is the most popular topping sauce, beating caramel 26% to 18%. 
  • Nuts and sprinkles are the most popular dry toppings, 15% and 14%, respectively. 



  • 73% of consumers have ice cream at least once per week and two out of three consume ice cream in the evening. 
  • 84% prefer to purchase ice cream at the grocery store and eat it at home.


  • Almost half of consumers prefer half-gallon containers for ice cream from a grocery store; 23% prefer a pint. 
  • While ice cream makers say they are seeing increased demand for non-dairy ice creams and plant-based ingredients, consumers rank these at the bottom of the list for most-consumed types of ice cream and frozen desserts.
  • July is the busiest month for ice cream production when nearly three-fifths of all ice cream is produced, followed by June and May. 
  • Two-thirds of ice cream makers say they already use or plan to incorporate more sustainable packaging solutions.
  • And interestingly, processors say sandwiches are the best-selling novelty, but consumers say they like cones best. 





Five Innovators Disrupting the Category

1. Pretty Cool Ice Cream is a small handmade ice cream company in Chicago. By the time IFT takes place in a few weeks, there will be two locations—Logan Square and Lincoln Park—for you to visit. I promise, it’s worth the trip. 

The concept was co-founded by award-winning pastry chef Dana Cree, author of Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream. Pretty Cool Ice Cream specializes in hand-made frozen novelties—dairy and vegan—made by skilled artisans. They are individually packaged, with graphics created by local artists. Dairy-based innovations include Caramel Horchata Crunch, Mango Lassi and Peanut Butter Potato Chip. 

Photo source: Pretty Cool Ice Cream (above) Eater Chicago (below)

A number of flavors include extra dairy for innovative flavor twists. Examples include Goat Cheese Black Raspberry Swirl, Watermelon Buttermilk and Chicago Mix. The latter was inspired by the iconic caramel and cheddar popcorn mix of Chicago. This stick bar treat is made by dipping salted caramel ice cream in a cheese popcorn shell.

To connect with neighborhood families, when Winnie the Pooh! A Musical Stage Adaptation arrived in the Windy City, Cree developed the kid-sized Silly Old Bear Bar. It is vanilla bean ice cream dipped in a caramel shell with bits of crushed honey comb candy. 

2. The Musket Room in New York City has been a Michelin-starred establishment since 2013. Each week this summer, until the end of August, Executive Pastry Chef Camari Mick is collaborating with a local chef, bartender or food industry personality to develop a new hand-made ice cream sandwich. The event started with Chef JJ Johnson of FieldTrip in Harlem. He created ice cream inspired by jollof rice, with macaron cookies and popped rice. This was followed by Chef Stefano Secchi’s of Rezdora with her brown butter truffle and ricotta ice cream sandwiched between two amaretto cookies. 

Photo source: Musket Room

3. Krispy Kreme is shaking up the ice cream category with its new Original Glazed Soft Serve, a one-of-a-kind ice cream made with ingredients from Krispy Kreme’s proprietary and secret Original Glazed Doughnut recipe, including its iconic glaze flavor, as well as real whole milk. Even the toppings and inclusions are “original,” some made from dehydrated Original Glazed doughnuts. It’s now available in 10 U.S. markets in cups, shakes and waffle cones. 

4. The Princess Cruises gelato shops are now designated as Ospitalità Italiana. They are the first and only locations to offer an authentic Italian gelato experience outside of Italy.

The prestigious Ospitalità Italiana designation is issued by the Italian Chamber of Commerce committee, an organization of the Italian government, and confirms that every step of the gelato-making process meets or exceeds a strict set of standards as approved by official Italian auditors and experts, who review the process on a yearly basis. Only gelato shops that attain outstanding quality status are awarded the official Ospitalità Italiana certification. 

(Photo source: Princess Cruises)

Princess Cruises handcrafts its fresh gelato with Italian-certified ingredients and equipment each day in the pastry kitchens onboard the cruise line’s three newest ships. Corporate Pastry chef Eric Le Rouzic trained with Italian chefs at the Gelato Carpigiani University in Bologna and the Gelato Comprital Atheneum in Milano to master the art of making the product. 

According to legend, the recipe for gelato was popularized when architect Bernardo Buontalenti was asked to create a special confection for a member of the Medici noble family in the 16th century. Buontalenti mixed milk, eggs, sugar and extracts in a special machine surrounded by ice and salt, and egg cream-based gelato was born. While it’s creamy, authentic gelato has less butter fat and fewer calories than traditional ice cream. The authentic Italian ingredients are combined with Princess’ freshly sourced fruit and is made each day with whole milk. As a result, a scoop of its gelato is 80 to 100 calories. Guests can choose from a variety of flavors, including Fior di Latte (vanilla), Cioccolato (chocolate), Tiramisu, Nutella and Caramello Salato (salted caramel). 


(Photo source: 1-900-ICE-CREAM)

5. 1-900-ICE-CREAM creates and produces innovative ice cream flavors on a weekly basis. The schedule goes like this. On Monday, the staff identifies three to six new flavors for the week. Monday through Friday they make the ice cream in their factory in Kensington, Pa. As ice cream flavors are finished, they are delivered to nearby scoop shops that serve as their retail channel. Depending on available stock, they also ship nationally. (Note how lids state the date of production.) 

And here's my hometown bonus: The Rainbow Cone has been a Chicago favorite since 1926. It’s a stack of five flavors: Orange Sherbet, Pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), Strawberry and Chocolate. 
(Photo source: The Rainbow Cone)

The ice cream is sliced--not scooped--into a cone or a cup. This almost-100-year old family-owned company has more trucks and kiosks around Chicago than ever before, including this truck at (free) Lincoln Park Zoo located along the lakefront, not too far from where many IFTers will be staying when in town for IFT First, July 10 to 13. Hope to see you there.  







Friday, June 17, 2022

Insights from Fancy Food Show 2022 Held Smack in the Middle of Dairy Month, and More!

 

Photo source: DAH!

I’m coming off of five days, four nights in New York City attending the Fancy Food Show, which included dining with actress and author Padma Lakshmi, who is the board advisor and brand partner for DAH! India Inspired Yogurt. This was followed by Marcum’s Food & Beverage Summit where “real” dairy innovation proved to be of high interest to many attendees and investors. And then, walking back to my hotel for a needed night’s rest before an early flight home, I spontaneously was gifted a 5th row ($250) ticket to see Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick on Broadway in the remake of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite. (I did not get that sleep.) Then the return to Chicago Thursday morning included almost four hours stuck on the tarmac at LaGuardia airport because of storms. On the plus side, I had an amazing pro-dairy conversation with my seat mates, followed by the very enlightening “How do you milk a microbe?” webinar from the non-GMO Project. Yes, I am exhausted.


Takeaways from the Fancy Food Show

It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The annual event, held June 12-14, marked a return following a two-year hiatus and featured more than 1,800 exhibiting companies. Please read THIS impressive summary of highlights from the show written by my Food Business News colleague Monica Watrous. 

Topline: The specialty food market, which encompasses products with limited distribution, gourmet ingredients and elevated preparations, reached total sales of $175 billion in 2021, up 7.4% from the prior year, according to the Specialty Food Association. Dairy, in its many shapes and formats, is one of the largest sectors of the specialty food industry. Cheese, creamer and frozen desserts lead the way, with yogurt, butter and refrigerated desserts gaining traction.  

The annual State of the Specialty Food Industry research presented at the Fancy Food Show included a closer look at specialty perishable sales, which are expected to reach nearly $33.5 billion in 2022. Perishables (random weight, non-UPC’d specialty items sold in a bakery, cheese, deli, meat and seafood sections) are critical to specialty, both in scale and as a good source of growth. For specialty retailers, perishables departments represent enticing, creative merchandising and execution. Plus, they are important centers for emerging food and beverage innovation that may eventually migrate to packaged goods categories. 

After being challenged by shutdowns during COVID, perishables can expand to better meet consumers’ needs for hot, ready-to-eat, or take-home, heat-and-eat fresh meals; meal kits; sandwiches, side dishes and salads; breakfast foods; confections and desserts; and hot and cold beverages. Dairy’s presence in many of these concepts is strong. 

The research also showed that BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color)- and women-owned brands are in demand by consumers and retail buyers and foodservice operators are seeking out incubators, brokers, business-two-business wholesalers and distributors, and even sales consultancies that specialize in supporting and growing these brands. Showcasing these brands has moved far beyond seasonal features to align with observed months like Black History or Women’s History, and will continue to expand. 

In case you missed Tuesday’s Daily Dose of Dairy—Painterland Sisters Skyr Icelandic-style Yogurt—here it is again. These sisters, their product and their mission speak to the specialty food consumer and the future of dairy. They remind me of the early days of Stonyfield yogurt. Their enthusiasm is contagious and should inspire us all. 



Picture are the Painter sisters—Hayley and Stephanie—who grew up on a 4th-generation Pennsylvania family farm. Together the two are bringing to market whole milk organic skyr yogurt that they describes as “for your family’s health, for the future of family farms like ours, for the planet, for women in business and more.”
Made from whole milk, each 5.3-ounce cup packs in up to 18 grams of protein. The product is lactose free (through the addition of lactase) and delivers billions of probiotics, including BB12, the world’s most clinically documented Bifidobacterium probiotic strain. The yogurt is sweetened naturally using a touch of cane sugar and contains no fillers. The initial rollout is in five varieties: Blueberry Lemon, Mixed Berry, Strawberry and Vanilla Bean. The company uses ultra-filtered milk that is gently heated and minimally processed. 

“We believe in regenerative farming, family togetherness, hard work, good food and simple living,” said Hayley at the Fancy Food Show. “When you buy organic skyr yogurt from Painterland Sisters, you don’t just get a healthy, delicious, convenient, sustainable snack, you join a sisterhood.”

My biggest take-away from the Fancy Food Show was also trending at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s annual exposition the previous week. It’s terroir. From the word terre, meaning land, terroir is a French term that describes the most vital components in French food and drink production. It’s a reference to everything from the soil to climate to sunlight. It’s a description of the quality of the environment where a crop is grown, essentially, everything that makes up the surrounding habitat and gives it its unique character. The importance of terroir is most prevalent in the wine industry.

The Americanized version is most apparent with cheeses touting they are made from either California or Wisconsin milk. But our terroir twist includes animals and how they are raised. It also includes the story behind grains, nuts, seeds and produce. There’s a lot of opportunity in this space and it will continue to evolve as supply chain issues and food economics dominate conversations. 

That’s a great lead into the webinar: How Do You Milk a Microbe? With June being Dairy Month, the Non-GMO Project felt the time was right to bring “animal-free” dairy proteins into the spotlight. The organization, along with American dairy farmers, are concerned that many shoppers, food manufacturers and retailers are unaware that these “animal-free” dairy proteins are actually unlabeled and unregulated GMOs. 

You can view the webinar HERE.

“Synbio dairy products are GMOs because they are created by genetically engineering a microbe like yeast to excrete milk proteins,” said Megan Westgate, founder and executive director of the Non-GMO Project. “That’s the definition of unnatural.”


During the webinar she explained, “Any sincere conversation about food in the United States starts with an acknowledgment that our food system has been built on stolen land and slave labor. The colonial mindset behind these atrocities is still alive and well.

“That mindset is based on the misconception that somehow human beings are separate from nature and each other and the life is a resource to be extracted and manipulated,” she said. “And that’s the same mindset behind all genetic engineering and it is not going to get us out of the mess that human beings are in as a species at this moment in time on planet earth.”

Wow, this is powerful stuff and I encourage you to read more. She quoted Einstein:

“You can’t fix a problem with the same consciousness that created it.”


“Fortunately, we are part of nature and as such every single one of us has an innate capacity to remember how to belong to earth,” said Westgate. 

She provided data that showed “consumers want products that are natural and not genetically modified. But it is becoming more challenging to provide those products because of the proliferation of new GMOs that are not being tracked or regulated.”

The non-GMO Project prohibits the use of synbio dairy, also often referred to as precision fermentation, in its verification process. The Project acknowledges that many of the companies developing these new GMOs have good intentions, such as climate change and animal welfare, but they don’t provide transparency. And, there are so many unknowns.  




Synbio dairy could also put traditional dairy farmers and farmworkers out of business.


“GMOs pose a threat to the land, environment, and family farms, and I don’t think GMOs have a place in our farming and food system,” said Albert Straus, founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery. “As the first Non-GMO Project Verified Creamery in North America, we are committed to organic farming. 

“Organic farming practices protect the environment, address animal welfare, build soil health and provide nutritious food while revitalizing rural communities,” Strauss said. “Organic dairy farming and milk production are the foundation for a carbon-neutral dairy farming model that we’ll achieve on my farm by 2023.”


The speakers emphasized that there are “real and proven benefits of traditional, organic, regenerative dairy created in cooperation with nature.” 

Alan Lewis, TEDx speaker, and head of government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers, said that almost all of the labs producing synbio dairy are private and funded by private investors. This leads to many secrets in the patents and allows companies to reveal only what they want revealed. He compared synbio dairy to the way Winston Churchill once described Russia: “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”   

Straus ended the webinar with something we must all remember and live by: “Livestock have an essential role in reducing climate change.”

Now, onto the few lighter moments this week. Thanks to my friends at DAH! for including me in the dinner at Semma Southern Indian in the West Village. The multi-course menu featured DAH!’s signature lassi probiotic-rich smoothie incorporated into dishes created by Chef Vijay Kumar (pictured with Padma Lakshmi). Her Hulu show--Taste of The Nation--just received a James Beard award this week, the day before she accepted three honors at the Critics’ Choice Awards. 

And yes, I was a bit starstruck with Sarah and Matthew. 

Dairy Innovators: Private Kitchen Pitch Contest presented by Midwest Dairy

The Hatchery Chicago has partnered with Midwest Dairy, a non-profit supporting farmers to highlight dairy products, to offer the Midwest Dairy Kitchen Pitch Contest. If you use 25% or more cow’s milk dairy in your ingredient base (made from a cow and can include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.), you are invited to apply. Applications opened June 1, 2022, and will close June 30, 2022, end of business day (5pm CST). The official rules are HERE

The Hatchery Chicago supports emerging brands with access to kitchen space and wrap-around services to support their business growth. Midwest Dairy represents 4,600 dairy farm families to 39 million consumers working on their member’s behalf to build dairy demand by inspiring consumer confidence in products and production practices. Midwest Dairy is funded by farmers across a 10-state region, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. 

One winner will receive six months of free rent in one of The Hatchery’s private commercial kitchens along with other startup support. Apply HERE.
















Thursday, June 9, 2022

IDDBA 2022: Three Take-Aways Fueling Rollouts in the Dairy, Deli and Bakery Departments

 

The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s annual exposition took place this past week after a two-year pandemic-related hiatus. The show, held in Atlanta, included 1,600 exhibitors and 1,200 retailers. I made a day trip out of it on Monday and took it all in. 

With all due respect to this baked goods exhibitor, this just made me laugh. What’s a croissant without flaky layers created by butter? 

Did you know that a classic French croissant has 55 layers, including 27 layers of butter? In other words, no butter, no croissant! Apparently, that’s no longer the case, much like animal-free dairy, chicken-less eggs and minus-the-cow burgers. 


TAKE-AWAY #1: Plant-based is extreme. For those of us who have been in the food business for more than 25 years, we know that every formulating extreme hits a high and then spirals down, leaving only the best of the best to compete in a niche sector. Interestingly, aside from the plant-based croissants and some other plant-based baked goods, IDDBA was not the show for plant-based dairy and meat. The few exhibitors in this space got lost among the many, many real cheese, real dairy and real meat exhibitors. 

TAKE-AWAY #2: Keto-friendly continues to gain traction. The irony here is that most of these products rely on real dairy. In fact, many baked goods sporting a keto label use dairy proteins and butter, and they make a big deal about it. And, of course, all real meat is keto friendly. The plant based vs. keto friendly wars for share of retail shelf should be interesting this coming year. 

TAKE-AWAY #3: Terroir gets Americanized. From the word terre, meaning land, terroir is a French term that describes the most vital components in French food and drink production. It’s a reference to everything from the soil to climate to sunlight. It’s a description of the quality of the environment where a crop is grown, essentially, everything that makes up the surrounding habitat and gives it its unique character. The importance of terroir is most prevalent in the wine industry.

The Americanized version is most apparent with cheeses touting they are made from either California or Wisconsin milk. But our terroir twist includes animals and how they are raised. It also includes the story behind grains, nuts, seeds and produce. A growing number of marketers at IDDBA were including these stories in their sales platforms, with an emphasis on sourcing local and supporting communities. Dutch Farms, for example, has the whole "farm fresh and family company" messaging going. Check them out HERE

There’s a lot of opportunity in this space and it will continue to evolve as supply chain issues and food economics dominate conversations. 

That brings me to the Midwest. Link HERE to an easy read on “The Future of Food in the Heart of America.” 
Dairy Innovators: Private Kitchen Pitch Contest presented by Midwest Dairy

The Hatchery Chicago has partnered with Midwest Dairy, a non-profit supporting farmers to highlight dairy products, to offer the Midwest Dairy Kitchen Pitch Contest. If you use 25% or more cow’s milk dairy in your ingredient base (made from a cow and can include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.), you are invited to apply. Applications opened June 1, 2022, and will close June 30, 2022, end of business day (5pm CST). The official rules are HERE.  

The Hatchery Chicago supports emerging brands with access to kitchen space and wrap-around services to support their business growth. Midwest Dairy represents 4,600 dairy farm families to 39 million consumers working on their member’s behalf to build dairy demand by inspiring consumer confidence in products and production practices. Midwest Dairy is funded by farmers across a 10-state region, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. 

One winner will receive six months of free rent in one of The Hatchery’s private commercial kitchens along with other startup support. Apply HERE.





Friday, June 3, 2022

Sweets & Snacks Exposes Five Flavor Opportunities for Ice Cream

 

As a food and beverage trend tracker for nearly 30 years (yes, I started as a toddler!), I think I know a few things. One is that the sweets and snacks categories are the places to go for flavor innovation for what’s next in ice cream. 

It took a week for me to recover from the Sweets & Snacks Expo held in Chicago May 24-26, and now I am ready to share my observations. Let’s start with some innovation winners. 

The Best in Show for the annual Most Innovative New Product Awards was Trü Frü LLC, for its Natures Strawberries Hyper-Chilled Fresh in Ruby Cacao. The Best in Chocolate winner was Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc., for its new Lindt Classic Recipe OatMilk.

OBSERVATION #1: Ordinary chocolate just doesn’t cut it anymore. Consumers are interested in premium and unique, and yes, vegan “milky” chocolate.


The winners of this contest set flavor and product trends across the confectionery and snack industries and beyond, most notably ice cream. These products have been developed during the past year and are now available on store shelves or will be made available to shoppers in the coming months.

“Innovation puts the candy and snack categories in the driver’s seat when it comes to flavor and product trends, and the 2022 Most Innovative New Product Awards continue to highlight those that accelerate us into the future,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “Consumers have been making life at home a little more enjoyable over the past two years by incorporating their favorite treat or snack into their lives in a way that has brought a variety of new flavors and fun to their daily routines.”

Andrea Montreuil, CEO, INNODELICE, said, “With both large and small brands consistently emerging and innovating in this space at a high rate, ice cream and frozen dessert businesses need to establish their true point of differentiation early on in order to drive sales at a sustainable rate.”

Another reason why it is important to be on top of trends in ice cream innovation is inflation. Grocery shoppers are feeling the pinch on their finances. To learn how rising prices are affecting grocery planning, 84.51degrees, the Cincinnati-based data powerhouse that helps Kroger and its partners create customer-centric shopper journeys, polled shoppers about their buying intentions. When asked how they’re coping with grocery store price increases, 52% of shoppers said they’ve noticed price increases in snacks and candy. While that’s significant, they’re much more aware of rising prices in the dairy (82%), produce (78%) and deli/meat/fish (77%) categories. Two in three shoppers (64%) said they’d cut back on snacks and candy “if money was tight.” 

But they are still snacking away. Here’s why. More than half of shoppers (59%) said “satisfying a craving” draws them to snacking, while 74% said “taste and flavor” are more important than curbing their appetite (46%).

That brings us to my next observation. Shoppers are nuts for peanuts.


The Best in Sweet Snacks went to The Hershey Company for its new Reese’s Snack Bar. And, peanut butter was the star of a new range of sweet snacks from Loacker, New York. All of the varieties are made with 17% real peanut butter in every serving. They are described as being low in sugar but high in flavor, making it a better-for-you treat. Varieties are Quadratini Peanut Butter, a bite size snack in a sharing pack that boasts five light, crispy wafers, enriched with a pinch of cocoa and four layers of peanut butter cream filling. The Classic Wafers Line, which is an individually wrapped on-the-go snack, features three crispy wafers enhanced with a dash of cocoa and two layers of peanut cream filling. Tortina Peanut Butter is an individually wrapped premium snack that’s perfect for the “me-moment” featuring peanut butter cream covered in milk chocolate.

OBSERVATION #2: Consumers crave peanut butter in any way, shape or form. It is one of the few nuts and legumes not being milked—yet—and it goes great with dairy. It can be creamy, crunchy and even provide a crackling pop. 

There’s a new commercial peanut butter ingredient available to ice cream innovators from Wonder Natural Foods, the company behind the Better’n Peanut Butter brand. It’s a lower-calorie, lower-fat peanut butter ingredient that also is easier to manage on the production floor. It is produced using a patented formula and process and is now available in large, pumpable aseptic totes. 

“The calorie content per serving of our Better ‘n Peanut Butter is only 100 calories in comparison to traditional peanut butter, which usually contain around 200 calories per serving,” said Scott Cuppari, president and CEO of Wonder Natural Foods. “In addition, we have also been able to significantly lower the fat content from approximately 16 grams of fat in most regular peanut butter brands to just 2.5 grams.”

This allows for application in better-for-you ice cream products, including novelties, where direct peanut butter addition can be challenging. 


“Traditional peanut butter is oil based, which is difficult to mix with dairy products, therefore ice cream manufacturers tend to use powder-based or peanut butter flavorings instead of the real thing,” said Cuppari. “Our solution is water based. That means that our peanut butter can be fully emulsified in ice cream and dairy products. This water-based formulation is a game changer for the dairy industry.
“This is important for the category as peanut butter continues to be a popular ingredient with consumers and it means that dairy brands can include real peanut butter in their products instead of powders or flavors,” he said.

OBSERVATION #3: Let’s just jump into the next trend, something powders and flavors cannot do in any food application. That is emphasizing texture. It’s been said for some time that texture is one of the most underdeveloped sensory experiences in ice cream. It’s not enough to be creamy any more. Descriptors such as “airy,” “puffy,”  “chewy,” “soft” and “squishy” are being used to differentiate in the sweets and snacks categories. There’s opportunities for this differentiation in frozen desserts, too. 


OBSERVATION #4: Salt is not just one of the basic tastes. It has evolved into a flavor. This is not new news, after all, we are still living in the sea salt caramel craze that started about a decade ago. But it is expanding and being emphasized. 

“Salt” is expected to be a growing flavor trend across all food and beverage, according to Lizzy Freier, menu research and insights, Technomic, Chicago. Salt has become the focal point of flavor innovations. 

OBSERVATION #5: There’s no way anyone could not notice that heat is hot. Innovators are exploring intense flavor combinations that include spicy heat, often times calling out the pepper varietal. Some use descriptors such as “inferno” to caution on the heat intensity. 
There’s opportunity for heat in ice cream. Think hot honey, spicy mango and peppery peanut butter. 

“At INNODELICE, we are building a varied portfolio of suppliers within the frozen dessert industry so that all of our ecosystem partners have plenty of ingredients and products to choose from when looking to build and expand upon their own portfolios and product ranges,” said Montreuil. “One of these suppliers is Wonder Natural Foods. The company’s new peanut butter variegate comes in several flavors, with more on the way.”





How Do You Milk a Microbe?
During June Dairy Month, the Non-GMO Project joins American dairy farmers in calling out synthetic dairy, which is quietly appearing in grocery store coolers throughout North America. In recent years, “animal-free” dairy proteins have found their way into everything from ice cream to cream cheese to snack bars, but many shoppers, food manufacturers and retailers are unaware that these are actually unlabeled and unregulated GMOs. 

“Synbio dairy products are GMOs because they are created by genetically engineering a microbe like yeast to excrete milk proteins,” said Megan Westgate, founder and executive director of the Non-GMO Project. “That’s the definition of unnatural.”

The synbio process forces cells to produce novel proteins that mimic natural ingredients like casein and whey. The possible risks include:  
  • Significant biohazardous waste. 
  • The accidental release of new GMOs into the environment.
  • Continued reliance on fossil fuels for GMO growth media and the incineration of waste.
  • Synbio dairy could also put traditional dairy farmers and farmworkers out of business.
The synbio dairy industry is rapidly expanding with a significant infusion of investment. According to the biotech industry’s Good Food Institute, nearly $2 billion has been invested in developing “precision fermented” products like synbio dairy in the past year alone. 

“GMOs pose a threat to the land, environment, and family farms, and I don’t think GMOs have a place in our farming and food system,” said Albert Straus, founder and CEO of Straus Family Creamery. “As the first Non-GMO Project Verified Creamery in North America, we are committed to organic farming. 
“Organic farming practices protect the environment, address animal welfare, build soil health and provide nutritious food while revitalizing rural communities,” Strauss said. “Organic dairy farming and milk production are the foundation for a carbon-neutral dairy farming model that we’ll achieve on my farm by 2023.”

The Non-GMO Project is launching a first-ever, dairy-focused campaign during National Dairy Month to bring awareness to the agricultural and environmental threat of synbio dairy. An industry webinar, consumer education, and media kit for brands and retailers will support the June campaign, “How Do You Milk a Microbe?” The campaign asserts that natural, organic and  non-GMO dairy is better than synbio dairy for consumers, farmers and the planet. 

Register HERE for the June 16th webinar taking place at 10am PST.

The Real California Milk (RCM) Excelerator
The California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) annual dairy innovation competition—the Real California Milk (RCM) Excelerator—is ready for applications. Created in partnership with innovation consultancy VentureFuel, this year marks the fourth installment of the competition. This year’s event focuses on accelerating ANY dairy-based product, from traditional consumer food and beverage items to textiles, haircare and beyond. The competition will award up to $500,000 in prizes for new innovative dairy products that introduce novel benefits in any form and drive consumption of Real California dairy.

As one of the biggest dairy competitions in the world, the program seeks early-stage, high-growth potential applicants with a 50% cow’s milk-based product or working prototype. Up to eight applicants will be selected to join the RCM Excelerator program. Each will have access to a group stipend and a robust network of resources to refine and scale their product and business. They will also participate in the CMAB/VentureFuel Mentorship Program, consisting of elite counsel from successful founders, investors, leading corporate executives and experts across design, marketing, sales, manufacturing, distribution, farming and processing industries.

For more information, link HERE. The deadline to apply is July 17, 2022.








Thursday, May 26, 2022

Foodservice, Sweets and Snacks, Oh My!

 

It’s been an exhausting food week in Chicago. The National Restaurant Association kicked things off on Saturday. This was followed by Sweets & Snacks opening up on Tuesday and culminated with Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food on Thursday.

I encourage you to read my take on the National Restaurant Show, published online by Food Business News HERE. For Sweets & Snacks, you will need to wait until next week’s blog, but I’ve shared a few character pictures. 

The Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food, the Windy City’s new flagship food innovation conference led by World Business Chicago, included a live welcome from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Here’s what she had to say. 

“Our local food innovation and startup ecosystem is core to our city’s economic progress and future prosperity,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As the global capital for food innovation with the largest concentration of food and beverage Fortune 500s, I’m honored to welcome more than 600 founders, innovators and investors for our first-ever Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food.”

According to Pitchbook data, Chicago food innovation companies raised $732 million in venture capital in 2021 alone, a 508% increase over 2019. In Q1 2022, local companies raised $111 million in venture capital. 

“Growth across all industries and sectors in Chicago is being enabled through tech and innovation,” said Michael Fassnacht, president and CEO, World Business Chicago, and chief marketing officer for the City of Chicago. “Today Chicago’s food, beverage and agriculture sector is the nation’s largest, generating over nine billion annually and employing over 65 thousand people; where over 2,800 companies located here are actively participating and contributing to the city’s vibrant startup and venture ecosystem.”

There’s a lot more for me to recap on this amazing meeting. For now, you can learn more HERE.

Thought you might like this comment from Julie Stamberger, CEO, chair and co-founder, The Planting Hope, a Chicago-based company that develops, launches and scales uniquely innovative plant-based and planet-friendly food and beverage brands. 

“Read the label of (almond milk),” she said. “It’s water that is not good for the environment and is highly unsustainable. There’s no nutrition in almond milk.”

And lastly, before I enjoy some needed rest this long holiday weekend, I want to share details on The California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) annual dairy innovation competition: the Real California Milk (RCM) Excelerator. Created in partnership with innovation consultancy VentureFuel, this year marks the fourth installment of the competition. This year’s event focuses on accelerating ANY dairy-based product, from traditional consumer food and beverage items to textiles, haircare and beyond. The competition will award up to $500,000 in prizes for new innovative dairy products that introduce novel benefits in any form and drive consumption of Real California dairy.

“Real dairy provides a package of functional and practical benefits that’s hard to replicate. We’re seeing an increase in unique products that leverage these benefits emerging in the market. By expanding the competition to all new dairy-based products, versus a specific category, we’re creating more opportunity to make a meaningful difference in consumers’ lives and in the utilization of milk from California’s family dairy farms,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “With the Excelerator platforms we’ve established over the past four years, we will be able to support companies as they innovate and establish these products in the market.” 

As one of the biggest dairy competitions in the world, the program seeks early-stage, high-growth potential applicants with a 50% cow’s milk-based product or working prototype. Up to eight applicants will be selected to join the RCM Excelerator program. Each will have access to a group stipend and a robust network of resources to refine and scale their product and business. They will also participate in the CMAB/VentureFuel Mentorship Program, consisting of elite counsel from successful founders, investors, leading corporate executives and experts across design, marketing, sales, manufacturing, distribution, farming and processing industries.

For more information, link HERE. The deadline to apply is July 17, 2022.

Hello Summer! In you are in the U.S., have a nice Memorial Day Weekend!


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Dairy Done Right has a Place in a Plant-Forward Diet

 

Fun things first. Check out phoodle.net. It’s a daily food-centered word puzzle similar to Wordle. 

On Wednesday I stood in a long line at the coffee shop in the Drake Hotel, Chicago, where Bridge2Food held its Plant & Protein Summit Americas. (Excellent conference and so glad to see so many Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers in attendance.) I am not sure if the 10-plus people in front of me were all attending the conference, but I do know that not a single one ordered their latte, cappuccino or other blended coffee beverage with dairy milk. (I was eavesdropping.) Everyone requested oat milk. I take my coffee black, but just to mix things up for the barista, I ordered a latte and asked for 2% milk. I saw shock cross her face and I queried about the milk preference at this location. She declared oat milk the winner. 

Why share this with you? Because “plant based” is not going away and it is getting smarter. And those that do it right—tasty, nutritious, affordable and profitable—will succeed. For the others, it’s just a matter of time before they pull the plug. Funny thing, dairy is all these things already, yet curious consumers are not satisfied and they are looking for something that claims to be better for them and for the planet. Hybrid products--dairy and plant protein--are a great option. 

Bolthouse Farms has been doing this for some time. One of my favorite workout replenishers is the Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus Shake that contains 30 grams of protein from reduced-fat milk, soy protein concentrate and whey protein concentrate per 15.2-fluid-ounce bottle. The company explains the reason for the blending on side label panels. Consumers get it. 



The company is growing its Breakfast Smoothie line with Mixed Berry Parfait, a blend of berries, yogurt and whole grains. The beverage is an excellent source of fiber, provides 11 grams of protein (from yogurt, whey protein concentrate and soy protein isolate) and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. One of the whole grains is oat flour, which adds an extra layer of functional nutrition to the beverage. 

Did you know that while oat milk lacks the amount of complete protein found in cows milk, oat milk does have something not inherent to cows milk? That is beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber with heart health benefits, and enough of a sell for older consumers who have to restrict their caloric intake because of slowed metabolisms. They might choose to get their beta glucans from the white stuff that goes in their coffee and cereal bowl. They may opt for their protein in a beverage like the Bolthouse Farms drinks or even some other format. 

Let me preface and say dairy milk and products made from dairy milk are not going away. There are so many opportunities to improve and speak to health- and planet-conscious consumers that you must think out of the box.  
One way to think out of the milk jug is to think protein beverage mixes. During the past few weeks I have featured three recent introductions as a Daily Dose of Dairy. All are targeted to specific demographics and all contain quality dairy protein. One is even manufactured by a dairy cooperative. 

Organic Valley is rolling out Pre- and Postnatal Support Smoothie Mixes for expecting and new moms. They are made with organic ingredients, including pasture-raised milk from Organic Valley’s small family farms. Consumers are instructed to blend it with 2% milk. The Prenatal Support Smoothie Mix offers important nutrients for expecting moms including DHA, folate and folic acid. The Postnatal Support Smoothie Mix provides new moms with DHA plus fenugreek. 

Health and wellness retailer GNC has released new private-label protein beverage mixes and bars in partnership with Girl Scouts of the USA. The limited-edition spring flavor is inspired by Girl Scout Lemon Cookies.

Whey is the only protein in the GNC AMP Wheybolic Whey Protein mix, while the GNC Total Lean Shake contains an array of whey and milk protein ingredients. The GNC Total Lean Layered Lean Bar is a hybrid, with whey and soy proteins, as well as bovine collagen. 

Nutritional Growth Solutions Ltd., is launching Healthy Heights KidzProtein beverage mixes to support children’s development. The mixes contain a proprietary blend of micro- and macronutrients demonstrated to support optimal childhood growth and development, as well as a fruit and veggie blend. One serving provides 10 gram of protein and an array of vitamins and minerals.

More thinking out of the jug comes from Nestle USA. The company is introducing Boosted Brew Original Keto Coffee Enhancer. It is a shelf-stable, one-step product that gives a boost of energy to a cup of java simply by stirring. Ingredients are: allulose, butter, MCT oil, inulin, buttermilk powder and acacia gum. 
Clio Snacks has also gone where few companies have dared with its refrigerated enrobed yogurt parfaits. New for the summer is limited-edition S’mores Granola & Yogurt Parfait Bars, which pairs together creamy marshmallow-flavored yogurt with a layer of graham-style granola, bringing the benefits of whole milk Greek yogurt—10 grams of protein and probiotics--to this campfire-inspired treat. 

The fact is that many consumers prefer dairy in formats other than fluid white milk. REPEAT after me: “This will not be changing in the near future.” 

But change is constant and that’s why on Wednesday, Chobani announced a $1 million gift to the University of Idaho-led Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, better known as CAFE. The gift will be used to help fund construction of the nation’s largest research dairy. 

Located in the south central portion of the state, Idaho CAFE spans three counties with a 2,000-cow research dairy and 640-acre demonstration farm in Rupert, a public outreach and education center in Jerome and collaborative food science efforts developed in partnership with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. 

With deep roots and a major manufacturing, research and development presence in Idaho, Chobani says it has long been committed to taking a holistic and inclusive approach to sustainability, especially within the dairy industry.

“Sustainability is part of the fabric of Chobani. Caring for our people and animals, conserving resources, putting back what we take, this is how we operate, and this is how dairy farmers operate,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani founder and CEO. “As more and more people--consumers, investors and regulators--focus on sustainability, the dairy industry must be part of the conversation.”

Sustainability and regenerative agriculture go hand-in-hand. If you regularly read my blog, you have noticed that I am a big believer of regenerative agriculture and soil health, as well as the critical role that livestock play in regenerative agriculture. (I guess you can call me a born-again tree hugger.) I am not the only one. In fact, the topic, along with sustainable manufacturing and over processing of plant proteins was a recurring theme at the Bridge2Food event. This was not some kumbaya conference with attendees and speakers simply singing praise about the plant-based food movement. It was about getting smarter and better in the plant-based space by identifying issues and hurdles in order to help feed the growing population and fight climate change. Dairy processors are already doing this. 

For example, Blue Ocean Barns announced this week that three dairy companies--Ben & Jerry’s, Straus Family Creamery and Clover Sonoma--have signed deals to begin rolling out its natural seaweed (Asparogopsis taxiformis) supplement for their cows as they move to dramatically cut the greenhouse gas footprint of their farm operations.

This dehydrated form of red seaweed has been proven to safely cut cows’ methane emissions from burps by more than 80% without changing the taste of milk or meat, according to peer-reviewed publications. The California Department of Food and Agriculture authorized commercial use of the supplement as a digestive aid for cattle earlier this spring.

A major reduction in livestock-generated methane gases could significantly slow the progress of climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Program. In fact, studies at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Oxford have concluded that methane reductions can actually have a cooling effect on the climate. Global methane emissions are generated predominantly by the agriculture industry and are more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first two decades of release. About a quarter of all methane emissions worldwide come from cattle enteric fermentation (cow burps).

“We are working closely with food industry leaders eager to achieve rigorously verified and auditable greenhouse gas reductions within their own supply chains,” said Joan Salwen, co-founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Barns. “Ben & Jerry’s, Straus Family Creamery and Clover Sonoma are pioneering companies directly engaging their farmers and processors to ensure their collective success in direct reduction of methane emissions.”

That’s “Doing Dairy Right.”
Separately, Ben & Jerry’s parent company—Unilever--announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on 15 dairy farms to half the industry average by the end of 2024 with the help of the seaweed supplement. Ben & Jerry’s plans to then expand successful pilot project initiatives to farms across its global dairy supply chain. 

“We believe in using the power of our business to create positive change,” said Jenna Evans, global sustainability manager for Ben & Jerry’s. “The fact that Brominata (the supplement) is effective in small quantities and easy for farmers to use makes it both environmentally and economically sustainable. We couldn’t be more excited to be an early adopter and to join other businesses in ushering in a new era of sustainable dairy.” 

In California last summer, Straus conducted the first commercial trial using the red seaweed on the Straus Organic Dairy Farm. For the next phase of the Petaluma, Calif.-based company’s rollout of Brominata, Albert Straus’ farm will be the first organic dairy in the United States to feed Brominata to cows as part of its goal of being carbon neutral by 2023. All of the dairy farms that supply Straus Family Creamery will be carbon neutral by 2030. 

“If we can get up to 90% reduction in methane emissions through feeding red seaweed to cows, this is a huge leap forward for us in creating a sustainable farming system that is beneficial to the planet and our communities,” said Albert Straus, founder and CEO. “Red seaweed is the next critical step we need to reach our carbon-neutral farming model.” 

It’s the circle of life. An algae assisting a ruminant animal to feed consumers and heal the planet. 

Clover Sonoma’s Chief Growth Officer Kristel Corson said, “We look forward to being a part of a larger movement to identify and trial sustainability innovations that reduce methane emissions. In 2021, we conducted an emissions and inventory analysis to help us set goals that reduce our climate impact. Our seaweed trial with Blue Ocean Barns is one step in that process and will help us execute a climate solution that will elevate the dairy industry overall. As part of a collaborative effort, we can make significant progress in helping our planet survive and thrive.”