Friday, July 23, 2021

Making Ice Cream a Pandemic Trend that Continues to Grow


This past Sunday, July 18, was National Ice Cream Day. I ventured with the family to one of my all-time favorite places--Sherman’s Dairy Bar—in South Haven, Michigan. My friends at Hudsonville Ice Cream produce product for Sherman’s using the Sherman family’s proprietary formulas. The Holland-based company started doing this in early 2020 after Sherman’s decided to stop production after the 2019 summer season. Thank you, Hudsonville, for keeping this Southwest Michigan tradition alive. I enjoyed the limited-edition Super Scoop, which is swirled Blue Moon, Black Cherry and Vanilla ice creams. 

National Ice Cream Day was a great start to this week’s annual conference of the Institute of Food Technologists, which was held virtually under the banner of FIRST (Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology). A recurring theme in many of the sessions was the evolving interpretation of health and wellness, and how companies that adapt to this, along with incorporating sustainability efforts into their business plans, may be what is necessary to keep the sales momentum of the pandemic on an upward trajectory.  

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the food industry to stick to those gains and retain those gains,” said Nicholas Fereday, executive director at Rabobank. “It’s theirs to lose.”

Joan Driggs, vice president of content and thought leadership at IRI said, “Whenever you have a major change, a major disruption in the market, it does spur innovation,” as she compared the pandemic to the recession from 2007 to 2009.

She moved onto the topic of health and wellness, explaining that most consumers have more than six personal wellness goals. This includes everything from getting better sleep to improving mental acuity to destressing, and, of course, managing weight.

“People are looking for a lot of different things,” she said. 

The pandemic made them more mindful of these goals. It also made them more aware of the role of food and beverage in attaining these goals. 

Might ice cream be a “health and wellness” food for someone who needs some calming and comforting? It can be that and a whole lot more! 

You can read a more comprehensive review of the FIRST session HERE

This brings me back to the blog I wrote last week on “What’s the Next ‘Healthy?’” 

You can read it HERE.

I got some interesting feedback from readers regarding my suggestion to use the word “nutritional” or “nutritious” on product packages. The fact is that dairy ice cream packs in 13 essential nutrients. It’s the ultimate “permissible indulgence.” It also may serve as a canvas for further nutritional enhancements. 

Here’s an example. A few weeks ago I featured Carter & Oak frozen dairy dessert as a Daily Dose of Dairy. The product carries the tagline of: Indulgence you crave. Nutrition you deserve. 

The product was developed by Kyle Peters, who after graduating from university in 2015, set out to make a nutritionally superior ice cream in honor of his recently deceased mother who struggled with the side effects of chemotherapy. One of the few foods she was able to eat was ice cream.

“The issue was that the ice cream she would eat was super high in sugar, made with artificial ingredients and was not putting her body in an ideal position to feel better and recover from her treatments,” says Peters. “I decided to combine my passion for culinary with inspiration from my mother and her fight to create Carter & Oak, a frozen dessert brand dedicated to providing delicious, premium products that are made with clean ingredients and provide high-quality nutrition.”

Currently Carter & Oak comes in single-serve 8-ounce cups in three varieties. Cold Brew Coffee and Vanilla Bean contain 190 calories, 7 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar (none are added sugars), 8 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar alcohols and 16 grams of protein. Chocolate Peanut Butter is a bit more indulgent with 260 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar (none are added sugars), 9 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar alcohols and 18 grams of protein. Key ingredients are organic skim milk, cream, organic egg, organic erythritol, chicory root fiber, whey protein isolate and monk fruit. The company has also developed a self-serve mix with a similar nutrition profile.

Now, before others try to duplicate his efforts, remember, health and wellness is very personal. As Driggs said, “People are looking for a lot of different things.”  

Ice cream is one of the ultimate comfort foods. And this past year, innovators turned up the comfort notch with their creativity. So many “firsts” debuted this summer that is has been impossible to cover them all. A recent example is the product of a partnership between Kraft Heinz and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to introduce limited-edition ice cream inspired by Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, complete with cheese powder and turmeric for coloring.

Supermodel Tyra Banks entered the ice cream business with SMiZE Cream, which is a superpremium, custard-style ice cream that inspires you to reach for more than just a spoon, as the bottom of every container has an edible surprise aptly named the SMiZE SURPRiZE. This extra treat is a cookie dough truffle covered in naturally colored sprinkles. It’s said to be a tasty reward that symbolizes what the brand stands for: goal getting and dream catching.

The line is launching in seven flavors, and more are on the way, according to the company. They are: Best Vanilla I Ever Had (vanilla ice cream with a fruity cereal cookie dough truffle), Brownies, I Love You (milk chocolate ice cream, brownie pieces, brownie batter bites and fudge with a chocolate blueberry cookie dough truffle), Caramel Cookie Queen (vanilla ice cream, caramel butter cookies and a salted caramel swirl with a toffee caramel cookie dough truffle), Chocolate Barbeque (smoked chocolate ice cream, brownie pieces, roasted almonds and a bourbon cookie dough truffle), Purple Cookie Mon-Star & Me (purple sweet cream ice cream with Oreo cookie pieces and a cookies and cream cookie dough truffle), Salted Caramel King (salted sweet cream ice cream, butter-roasted pecans and salted caramel butter with a salted caramel cookie dough truffle) and Strawberry BirthYay! Cake (strawberry ice cream with cake pieces and colorful sprinkles plus a sprinkle birthday cake cookie dough truffle).

Will our new normal actually include a supermodel making ice cream, eating it and raving about it? Like I said, it has been a summer of many ice cream firsts. 

“It’s official, baby! Now everyone in mainland USA can enjoy the creamy, dreamy taste of SMiZE Cream,” says Banks. “Bite after bite, taste test after taste test, the nationwide launch of SMiZE Cream is by far my most delicious, chunk-a-licious accomplishment. Ever since I was a little girl, my mama and I have been obsessed with the creamy, crunchy, ooey-gooey comfort and delight of ice cream. Everybody has their own unique stories and moments with ice cream at the center of them—hot summer days, celebrations, even broken hearts—but ice cream always made it better.”
My colleague at Food Business News developed an informative slide show of some recent ice cream flavor innovations. You can view it HERE.

There are packaging firsts for ice cream, too. Unilever’s new Klondike Shakes are frozen 4.7-ounce pouches. Flavors are Chill Out & Vanilla and Wind Down & Chocolate. The consumer just lets it sit out for about three minutes, then twists off the cap and sips. 

There are numerous new options in the single-serve retail milkshake and sundae space, with brands trying to recreate the dairy counter experience. Palazzolo’s Artisan Dairy offers 18-ounce “blended and ready to eat” ice cream milkshakes made with only clean, simple ingredients. Varieties include Cookies and Cream, Double Shot Cappuccino, Double Dutch Chocolate, Fresh Strawberry, Salted Caramel and Tahitian Vanilla. 

When the Roadside Ice Cream & Diner in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, had to close its doors during the pandemic, the company quickly pivoted and entered retail with its hand-made soft-serve sundaes. The company joined brands such as Turkey Hill, Friendly’s and Blue Bunny.    

This is one cool first. The Churnbaby brand from Casper’s Ice Cream gives a unique spin to single-serve sundae cups by topping them off with an entire cookie and including a spoon under the lid. The 7-ounce cups are sold in two packs in four varieties. They are: Choco Chip Cookie Dough (whole chocolate chip cookie, fudge drizzle, sweet cream ice cream, cookie dough swirl and chocolate chip cookie dough), Choco Chip Vanilla Fudge Brownie (whole chocolate chip cookie, fudge drizzle, vanilla ice cream, brownie bites, chocolate flakes and fudge ribbon), Cool Mint Chocolate Chip (whole double fudge cookie, fudge drizzle, mint ice cream, chocolate flakes and fudge ribbon) and Peanut Butta Brownie Luvva (whole double fudge cookie, peanut butter drizzle, chocolate ice cream, peanut butter ribbon and brownie bites). 

The brand also has two varieties of ice cream sandwiches, which are even now available through private-label retailer Aldi. The ice cream sandwiches come in Caramel Cashew (caramel ice cream with a sea salt caramel ribbon and crunchy cashew chunks sandwiched between shortbread cookies) and Caramel Cookies n’ Cream flavors (cookies n’ cream ice cream with a sea salt caramel ribbon sandwiched between double fudge cookies).

As you can see, there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation in the novelty category. And consumers appear to be eating it up. While retail ice cream sales have slowed compared to 2020, they are still up from 2019. Novelty sales remain up from last year. (See chart.)

Recent data provided to the International Dairy Foods Association showed that hard ice cream production for the first five months of 2021 was ahead of last year when hard ice cream production set a five-year high with more than one billion gallons produced. Through the first six months of 2021, just as the summer season kicked into high gear, retail ice cream sales continued to flex their muscle and were slightly behind 2020’s record highs when shoppers couldn’t get enough of America’s frozen treat.

“Ice cream sales set a blazing pace in 2020 and just never let up,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “All in all, 2021 is shaping up to be one of the strongest years on record for ice cream production and sales as the U.S. economy opens up and restaurants and foodservice compete with grocery stores for ice cream sales.”

The average American eats approximately 23 pounds of ice cream each year. The United States ranks second in global ice cream consumption only to China, which has one billion more people living in its borders.

Need more incentive to get innovative in ice cream? Fortune Business Insights estimates the global ice cream market will reach $91.9 billion in 2027, up from $70.9 billion in 2019, a 30% jump in less than a decade due to the world’s craving for ice cream. 

Remember those cravings may be for many varied reasons. People are looking for a lot of different things!

Friday, July 16, 2021

What’s the Next “Healthy?”


There’s a lot of conversation regarding what the future holds for retailers, restaurants, office buildings, well, really just about everything. But one conversation not taking place…until now…is what consumers will view as being healthy food. 

Is it plant? Is it cellular? Is it clean label? Is it local? 

What’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. One thing I hope we can agree on is that healthy should be nutritious. 

You may not be aware, but in early May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started a public process to update the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling. Updating the term is part of an overall plan to provide consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry. 

FDA says that the updated nutrient content claim will be consistent with current nutrition science and federal dietary guidelines. Yet, the FDA issued a request for information and comments on September 28, 2016, and held a public meeting on March 9, 2017. I hate to break it to FDA, but what was “healthy” back then may not be “healthy” by the time they finalize the definition. 

While FDA is considering how to redefine the term healthy as a nutrient content claim, food manufacturers can continue to use the term healthy on foods that meet the current regulatory definition. For more information, link HERE.

So that brings me back to the question I posed in my headline: What’s the next healthy? After all, the more a term is regulated or scrutinized, the more creative marketers get to find alternative descriptors. For a while, energy was a go-to for many marketers. Superfood, as well, but that seems to have lost some of its spunk.  

“Good” is an interesting one. It’s not in product descriptors, but it is in company names, brands and slogans. These four come to mind: Good Foods Company, Feel Good Foods, Realgood Foods and Made Good. 

What’s “good?” I want great!

“The definition of ‘good’ has evolved substantially throughout my career,” says Kristin Kroepfl, chief marketing officer for Quaker. “At Quaker, we strive to meet our consumers’ changing needs everyday by delivering on nutrition as well as taste.”

Kroepfl will join my friends at Bader Rutter on Wednesday, August 25, for a live panel discussion where marketers will share their definitions of what’s “good” in food and beverage marketing. You’ll hear perspectives from food leaders at Quaker, the National Pork Board and more, as they shed light on how they tackle the constantly moving target of what’s “good.” Register HERE

“Kentucky Fried Chicken was ‘Finger lickin’ good,’” says Dennis Ryan, executive creative director at Bader Rutter. “Maxwell House tasted ‘Good to the last drop.’ And we believed that ‘With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.’ Then that big mouth Tony the Tiger one-upped good by boasting ‘They’re grr-r-reat!’

Like I said, I don’t want good, I want great. 

“But in an increasingly commoditized market, good taste alone isn’t always enough,” says Ryan. “Brands started pitching their offerings as ‘good and good for you.’ Wheaties boasted ‘the goodness of 100% whole grain,’ and all sorts of boxed and canned products claimed to be ‘naturally good.’
You can also read more on the topic of “good” HERE.

Power is a term that seems to be gaining traction, as you can see from this new Yoplait line introduced by General Mills this week. Yoplait Power is the first national brand yogurt with a combination of vitamins A, C, D, E and zinc to help support the immune system. The low-fat yogurt includes fruit and chia seeds and comes in four flavors: Blueberry Blackcurrant, Cherry Pomegranate, Mango Orange and Strawberry Acai.

Power has also long been associated with protein, specifically dairy proteins, so use of the term makes logical sense…for dairy.

But power does not say it all. 
The long-established trend towards proactively managing health and well-being was brought into sharper focus by the pandemic. Research by Innova Market Insights reveals a new wave of opportunity for functional nutrition product launches for 2021 and beyond, which will be explored further in a webinar on July 19.
You can register HERE.

Even prior to COVID-19, consumers were taking a more holistic approach to health, focusing on positive nutrition to boost the body’s resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. The impact of the pandemic brought health needs even more to the fore, with the growing desire to maintain physical and mental fitness developing alongside the more immediate focus on personal health security and hygiene. This included choosing functional foods and beverages, as well as maintaining or increasing exercise, protecting the body from health threats and utilizing more self-care products at home as access to shops and services was restricted.

Consumers across the globe are placing increased emphasis on positive nutrition rather than the more traditional reductionist methods of diet control. An average 71% of respondents in Innova’s 2020 Health & Nutrition Survey agreed that it was important or very important to choose food and drink products that positively boost nutrition or benefit how the body functions.

Boost nutrition, proven nutrition, or simply, “nutritional,” I think that’s the new “healthy.”
We use the word nutrition and nutritional all the time in our conversation but seldom communicate it on product packages, except, of course, on the back panel as “Nutrition Facts.” A quick search of “nutritional” products, namely bars and beverages, provides many examples, with only a few using the term on front of pack. (All of the examples in this blog contain dairy ingredients.)

Merriam-Webster provides this definition for nutritional: the act or process of nourishing or being nourished. I think an appropriate synonym is “milk.” Dairy packs in 13 essential nutrients. That’s better than good. That’s great, make that “great nutrition!” That’s also pretty darn healthy, don’t you think?

Friday, July 9, 2021

Preparing for Post-Pandemic Snacking


Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council

About a year ago many of us fell into the new norm of life. We swapped out our pre-pandemic forms of control for new habits, ones that continue today. And while offices are reopening, business traveling is starting up again and in-person meetings are becoming more frequent, our new “controlled” habits are likely going to remain. 

This morning I woke up to a Forbes article titled “How Covid Affected Employee Perks and What They Will Look Like Post-Pandemic.” The basis of the piece is how businesses are substituting pre-pandemic employee perks, such as free in-office lunches and stocked refrigerators, for subscriptions to mental health apps and working from home stipends. Flexibility, once a selling point, is now the norm.

The fact is that some things have changed, and that includes where and when we work, learn, exercise and play. Snack-filled pantries at offices are empty, but we are still snacking. 

You can read the Forbes article HERE

While the number of times consumers snack throughout the day has remained steady since the onset of the pandemic, the overall volume has grown, according to an October 2020 survey by The Hartman Group. Further, 35% of consumers said they were snacking more often and 20% have changed how they snack from the previous year.   

Snacking provides a form of routine, of comfort, of control. And right now as we reenter society, most of us are not willing to give up any of these things. 

“The culture of snacking in the U.S. is one that is constantly evolving and shifting according to broader shifts in American consumer values, demographics and priorities,” according to The Hartman Group’s Snacking 2020: Emerging, Evolving and Disrupted report. “The pandemic altered consumers’ snacking needs and routines and has unleashed yet another new era of retail and foodservice disruption.”

The Hartman Group just published these amazingly insightful infographics, which I have been permitted to share with you. They show how consumer participation in meal and snack occasions follows an established pattern, but within this general pattern, individual consumer approaches to snacks and meals reflect diverse daily schedules. 

As a Gen Xer, I fit this this pattern down to a tee. It was definitely different before the pandemic, but I am quite comfortable with the routine I have fallen into and not ready for change. The only thing my infographic is missing is the cup of black coffee with a scoop of collagen that I have every morning, usually before 6:00am. 

Note how these infographics highlight many dairy and dairy-type foods, including cheese, dip, ice cream, protein shake and yogurt. Note how what constitutes a snack or meal is less specific with younger consumers, while older ones are more set in their ways. This provides more opportunity to lure Gen Z into the refrigerated and frozen retail cases with real dairy and non-dairy formats, while products targeted to the needs of older, more affluent consumers are also a great bet. As you formulate and market for back-to-school and back-to-work schedules, consider including functional ingredients in products targeted to specific demographics for certain day parts. 

Liz Sloan wrote “Demographic Disruption” for this month’s issue of Food Technology. “Unmet needs of older consumers, a new generation of cooks and high-end tastes among lower-income shoppers are spawning a wealth of new food and beverage opportunities,” she wrote. “COVID-19 is not the only disruptor of the U.S. food and beverage marketplace. Major demographic transitions related to birth rate, a dramatic bifurcation of older/younger consumers, unprecedented growth in minority populations and the increasing impact of urban shoppers are reshaping it as well.

“While food marketers appear to be disproportionately focused on developing ‘experiential’ products for young adults, they are ignoring one of the most dramatic opportunities of all time: the emerging food and nutrition needs of one of the largest and wealthiest populations in the world—aging baby boomers,” Sloan wrote. “The U.S. population included 120 million Americans over 50 years old in 2020.”

I would add aging Gen X to her quote. We are currently about 41 to 56 years old. 

Vital Proteins recently signed Jennifer Aniston on as Chief Creative Officer. Aniston is one of the only spokespersons to Gen X. My demographic has long felt ignored and overlooked. Aniston is telling me now to add collagen to my morning coffee, and I do it daily. What can you tell me about your snack food to make me a customer?

You can read the entire Food Technology article HERE.

I hope these articles and infographics guide you in your product development efforts for the new snacking norm. Dairy deliciousness—in real dairy and non-dairy products—has always been a craveable trait. Never sacrifice on flavor, as taste reigns. That’s one attribute no demographic is willing to forego.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ten Take-Aways from the Sweets & Snacks Expo (a key trend-tracking show for all food and beverage)


What an amazing week! The first North American food industry trade show in 15 months took place this week in Indianapolis and I was fortunate enough to attend. After all, I could not miss out on The Sweet & Snacks Expo, which usually is held in my hometown Chicago, alongside the National Restaurant Association Show. (Both will be held in Chicago in May 2022.) 

While we all agreed during registration to follow safety guidelines and wear our mask when inside the convention hall, I was likely one of only 100 who did. (There were more than 8,000 registered.) I am a rule follower! I still managed to feel safe and explored the more than 450 exhibitors along with nearly 3,000 retail attendees, a.k.a. buyers.

Here are 10 take-aways from what I consider to be one of the most important trend-tracking expos. All food and beverage innovators can benefit from these findings. 

1. Smaller Pack Sizes. While 2020 had many consumers purchasing family-sized, shareable and multi-serving packs of their favorite foods, everything from yogurt to gummy bears, smaller packs are back. More companies continue to develop smaller pack sizes containing 200 calories or less. This trend empowers consumers to make informed choices, especially when they are ready to treat themselves to their favorite snack or candy. It assists with nutrient-dense foods, too, helping the consumer keep a mental check of their daily intake of protein, fiber and even probiotics.

2. Tropical Flavors. With the country reopening, many consumers dream of a day at the beach and enjoying all that summer has to offer. This year, tropical flavors are taking center stage with a focus on pineapple and coconut. 

3. Mix and Match: Can’t decide on what flavor to purchase? Marketers are mixing up sweet and salty, sweet and sour, fruity and chocolate, etc., all in a single package. This can be easily done with all types of dairy (and dairy-free) foods. 

4. Celebration Time. My friend Anne-Marie Roerink, principal of the consultancy firm 210 Analytics LLC, spoke on “The State of Treating” on Thursday morning. She said that people are ready to reconnect with the holidays, seasons and special events, and products that help them do so will do well this coming year. 

5. Texture Time. Anne-Marie also identified a notable difference in texture preferences among generations, with young Millennials and those under them preferring chewy and gummy treats. What does this mean for dairy? Well, boba—maybe fortified with vitamin C—might make a smarter dome-held mix-in for yogurt. “Chewy is the biggest game in town,” she said.

6. Fruit Flavors. Anne-Marie noted that there’s also a very strong division in flavor preferences between younger and older consumers. The former is all about fruit flavors, maybe with an additional dimension, such as sour, tart or even heat. Older consumers prefer chocolate. Bitter, dark cocoa is about as extreme as they will take it. 

7. Spice It Up. That brings me to lucky #7. Hot continues to trend in sweet and salty confections and snacks. Many product lines featured chili, sriracha, jalapeƱo and habanero. There’s room for heat in dairy. It does not need to be off the charts hot, just a mild kick. This is showcased in High Road Strawberry and Espelette Swirl Ice Cream. It’s a combination of perfectly ripe strawberries with a hint of Espelette peppers and super delish! The flavor received a Silver sofi in the Frozen Desserts category in May, as part of the Specialty Food Association’s 2021 sofi Awards. The sofi Awards competition is open annually to members of the Specialty Food Association. The Awards have been given each year since 1972. They recognize extraordinary specialty food and beverage products and the people who create them. 

8. Cheese It Up. Real dairy or plant-based, cheese was everywhere at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. It was oozing out of pretzel balls and sprinkled on dairy-free, super grain Ka-Pop! snack puffs and popped chips. Ka Pop! chips are made from sorghum and are allergen friendly, gluten-free, paleo, non-GMO and vegan. Dustin Finkle, a CrossFit instructor pitched the chips Season 11 of Shark Tank, which aired in January 2020. While the Sharks loved the taste, only one made an offer. Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary offered Dustin $350,000 for 17.5% equity, which Dustin deemed too much so he declined the offer. His business is thriving, and includes a number of dairy-free, dairy flavors, including cheddar cheese, and sour cream and onion. 

9. Poppable and Portable. Cup-holder packs were all over the expo floor. We revolutionized the fluid milk industry with Dean’s portable and resealable Milk Chugs in 1997. It’s time to do more in this space. 

10. Caffeine From Coffee. It was everywhere. It came crunchy, salty, chewy and chocolatey. 

As we enter a long holiday week in the U.S., I challenge you to think about these trends and come back refreshed for some serious product innovation. The time is now to get new products into supermarkets. 

“There is a return to the normalization of shopping,” said Anne-Marie. “People are shopping the aisles and welcoming innovation, again.”

P.S. I just had to share my character photos. Hope they made you smile! 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Cicadas Pose No Threat to Dairy Proteins…other than maybe annoying cows

Photo source: Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream 

I thought that headline might get your attention. Seriously, though, cicadas promise to be overwhelming this summer. And, they are an edible insect. Creating recipes and showcasing fun ways to eat cicadas has been trending on Tik Tok. It has been so popular that earlier this month the FDA felt it was necessary to tweet this statement:  

“We have to say it. Don’t eat #cicadas if you’re allergic to seafood, as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters.”

In case you were wondering, rumor has it, once you get past the crispy exterior, cicadas are buttery and taste like shrimp. Cicadas contain a comparable amount of protein to red meat, more than 100 grams per pound, while having a much smaller carbon footprint.

But, there’s always another side to the story. Cicada eaters risk exposure to pesticides if they don’t choose and clean their insects properly. After all, the cicadas coming out this year lived in the soil for almost two decades.


Pictured here is a cicada ice cream sundae made by Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream in Arlington, Virginia. It is made with one scoop each of chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and cafe au lait ice cream. This gets topped with chocolate sprinkles, two red candy eyes and waffle cone wings. The shop cautions that you should “consume it before it consumes you.” Important to note, it does not contain any cicadas, not even a sprinkling of chocolate-covered, crispy wings!

What is trending are dairy proteins, which are described by Innova Market Insights as the unsung heroes of global innovation. Research shows that the range of products powered with dairy protein ingredients continues to climb, providing plentiful choice to consume dairy-based products in new and exciting ways.  

Tracking data from Innova Markets Insights’ Innova Database affirms this upward growth trajectory, revealing that the number of new global food and beverage product introductions made with whey proteins and with milk proteins both set new records in 2020. A record 7,409 whey protein products were introduced around the world in 2020, with annual launches nearly doubling from 2015. This represents a double-digit (13.9%) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2020, demonstrating that food formulators are tapping into these nutritional and functional ingredients to fuel innovations that deliver on consumer desires, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

Milk protein product launches also smashed prior year records, reaching 9,413 products in 2020, a 3.7% CAGR from 2015 to 2020. Aggregated dairy protein product introductions outpaced plant proteins in 2020 by over 3,000 products (17,652 dairy proteins vs. 14,584 plant proteins), maintaining a consistent lead held for the past decade. 

“This impressive growth in whey, milk and dairy protein introductions aligns with other Innova Market Insights’ survey data showing strong consumer demand for proteins from both animal and plant-based sources,” says Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director, Innova Market Insights. “Innovation potential remains bright across global markets and diverse product categories for these versatile ingredients from cow’s milk, offering formulators the sweet spot of nutritionally high-quality proteins that complement today’s plant forward lifestyles.” 

In this analysis, the “whey protein” group includes whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate and whey protein isolate. The “milk protein” group includes milk protein, milk protein concentrate, milk protein hydrolysate, milk protein extract and milk protein isolate. The “dairy protein” group includes 32 whey protein, milk protein, casein protein and other dairy-based protein ingredients, while the “plant protein” group includes 70 ingredients, including soy, pea, almond, potato, wheat, rice, oat, lupin and more.

The number of whey and milk protein products carrying a high or source of protein claim is rising in tandem with the growth in new product launches. Sixty percent of tracked whey protein and 28% of milk protein product introductions carried a “high” or “source” of protein claim on-pack in 2020, signaling that global manufacturers are harnessing protein’s powerful consumer allure for marketing advantage. 

“Consumer interest in protein for health is no longer just in Western markets where the protein trend started but gaining momentum and driving new product introductions around the world,” says Kristi Saitama, vice president, global ingredients marketing for USDEC. “Launch activity is likely to accelerate in coming years as manufacturers in Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries further discover and seek out whey and milk protein’s powerhouse nutritional package to develop local-friendly products supporting consumer health and wellness goals, such as fitness, weight management and healthy aging.” 

More than one third (35.4%) of whey protein new product introductions in 2020 were outside of Europe and North America, with one in five (21.2%) launches in Asia. The top five markets—United States, China, Germany, United Kingdom and Brazil—accounted for 40% of tracked 2020 introductions. On a country by country basis, the United States accounted for 16% of the 2020 whey protein food and beverage launches followed by China (8%), Germany (6.5%), the United Kingdom (5.6%) and Brazil (3.8%). 

Category wise, sports nutrition led with a 36.9% share of total whey protein product introductions last year followed by baby and toddlers (27.4%), dairy foods (6.4%), cereals (6.1%) and bakery (5.8%). Additional key categories included desserts and ice cream (4.3%), snacks (2.4%), confectionery (2.2%), ready meals and side dishes (2.2%) and soft drinks (1.9%), reflecting broadening performance strength across both traditional and novel end-use applications.

“U.S. whey and milk protein ingredients deliver on formulator goals to boost protein content in health and wellness product offerings while providing the right flavor, nutrition, functionality and clean labels in ways where newer proteins may struggle,” says Saitama. “And with a long-legacy of environmental stewardship and ambitious environmental goals to become carbon neutral or better by 2050, global manufacturers can count on the U.S. dairy community for sustainable ingredient and innovation solutions that are healthful for both the body and the planet."

When it comes to sports nutrition, a new report from 3A Business Consulting, “The Global Market for Sports Nutrition and Dairy/Plant Proteins 2021-2025,” shows that the market for sports nutrition will continue its value and volume growth as pandemic-related rules are lifted. The global sports nutrition market was estimated to be $21.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $31.2 billion by 2025, corresponding to an impressive CAGR of 7.4%. 

North America amounts to a whopping 63% of the global market value followed by Western Europe and Asia Pacific. In terms of per capita spending the United States is the biggest spender followed by Australia. In Western Europe, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries are the heavy users. 
Covid-19 has extensively impacted the sports nutrition industry, with changes in distribution channels, product development, consumers’ awareness of overall health as well as consumer buying behavior. 

With a greater focus on overall health and more consumers looking for clean-label products, an increasing demand for natural ingredients is seen in sports nutrition. Ingredients such as organic and grass-fed whey and milk proteins and plant-based proteins have gained prominence due to both health and ethical concerns.

Dairy proteins used in sports nutrition are whey and milk proteins. For whey proteins, it is whey protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate and whey protein isolate. Native whey proteins have started to appear in sports nutrition. Milk proteins used include milk protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, milk protein hydrolysate, caseinates and to a lesser extent micellar casein. Consumption of plant proteins in sports nutrition is increasing; key plant proteins used are soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate and rice protein isolate. 

Insect proteins did not make the list. No need to fear the cicadas. But it might be time to get into sports nutrition!

Friday, June 11, 2021

June is National Dairy Month: Seven Newsy Items to Power-Up Your Business as the World Opens Up


We’re almost half way through National Dairy Month, a recognition first bestowed to June in 1937 as National Milk Month that soon evolved into including all dairy foods. National Dairy Month functions as a marketing and promotions campaign for retailers, brands and farmers to encourage consumption of nutrient-rich dairy foods. 

This June has been full of interesting dairy news, and like I stated, we are not even half way through it. Here are seven newsy items you will want to catch up on. 

1. Is it time to reevaluate organic dairy production standards? An article published in the May 2021 issue of Journal of Food Science, and made available to me last week, suggests it may be time to change the rules governing the use of antibiotics in organic livestock. Read more in an article I wrote for Food Business News HERE.

2. The FDA has amended the standard of identity for yogurt. On June 9, FDA issued a final rule to amend and modernize the standard of identity for yogurt by allowing for greater flexibilities and technological advances in yogurt production. This is something that has been long overdue. It’s nice to see FDA back in action. (The industry has been waiting for this for more than a decade!) This initiative is part of FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which has as one of its goals to modernize food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods. 

Currently, FDA has separate standards of identity for yogurt, low-fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt. Under the final rule, low-fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt will be covered under FDA’s general definition and standard of identity, which allows nutritionally modified versions of traditional standardized foods. The final rule expands the allowable ingredients in yogurt, including sweeteners and reconstituted forms of basic dairy ingredients. It establishes a minimum amount of live and active cultures yogurt it must contain in order to bear the optional labeling statement “contains live and active cultures” or similar statement. Additionally, the final rule supports the many innovations that have already been made in the yogurt marketplace, including continuing to allow manufacturers to fortify yogurts, such as adding vitamins A and D, as long as they meet fortification requirements. The rule also allows various styles or textures of yogurt as long as they meet the requirements in the standard of identity. The compliance date of this final rule is January 1, 2024. For more information, link HERE.

Photo source: Dairy Management Inc.

3. The USDA rolls out the Build Back Better initiative. The USDA is back in action, too. Thanks Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Citing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions, on June 8, the USDA announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. The new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, help communities that have been left behind and support good-paying jobs throughout the supply chain. Today’s announcement supports the Biden Administration’s broader work on strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains as directed by Executive Order 14017 America’s Supply Chains. Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruption for growers and food workers. It exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated and fragile. Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else,” said Vilsack. “The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds. I am confident USDA’s investments will spur billions more in leveraged funding from the private sector and others as this initiative gains traction across the country. I look forward to getting to work as co-chair of the new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and help to mobilize a whole-of-government effort to address the short-term supply challenges our country faces as it recovers.” To read more, link HERE.

4. The USDA is also focusing on food security for all Americas. Vilsack is on a roll. (Thank you!) A week earlier, when he first announced the Build Back Better initiative, he shared USDA’s plans to purchase healthy food for food-insecure Americans and build food bank capacity. This $1 billion brings the total amount dedicated to food bank efforts to more than $5 billion.

“Hunger is on the decline thanks to aggressive action by the Biden-Harris Administration, but we must do more to improve partnerships and infrastructure that power emergency food distribution to ensure the food provided is nutritious and supports a better food system,” said Vilsack. “Now is the time to apply lessons learned from food assistance activities early in the pandemic to improve how USDA purchases food and supports on-the-ground organizations with The Emergency Food Assistance Program. We will put special emphasis on reaching rural, remote and underserved communities, local and regional food systems, and socially disadvantaged farmers.”

As someone who volunteers regularly at a food bank in Chicago, I am especially grateful for the up to $100 million being dedicated to infrastructure grants to build capacity for food banks. This is a lot about refrigeration storage. The food bank hub where I volunteer—where donations and purchased food comes in and volunteers separate and then distribute to outreach facilities—has very limited refrigerated space for, you guessed it, all things dairy. Imagine my struggle with this fact. Looking forward to positive change. To read more, link HERE.

5. Innova data affirms that whey and milk proteins shatter new product launch records in 2020. That’s right, on June 1—World Milk Day--The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) shared data from Innova Market Insight’s Database showing an upward growth trajectory in the number of new global food and beverage product introductions made with whey proteins and with milk proteins. A record 7,409 whey protein products were introduced around the world in 2020, with annual launches nearly doubling from 2015. This represents a double-digit (13.9%) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2020, demonstrating that food formulators are tapping into these nutritional and functional ingredients to fuel innovations that deliver on consumer desires. 

Milk protein product launches also smashed prior year records, reaching 9,413 products in 2020, a 3.7% CAGR from 2015 to 2020. Aggregated dairy protein product introductions outpaced plant proteins in 2020 by over 3,000 products (17,652 dairy proteins and 14,584 plant proteins), maintaining a consistent lead held for the past decade. 

“This impressive growth in whey, milk and dairy protein introductions aligns with other Innova Market Insights’ survey data showing strong consumer demand for proteins from both animal and plant based sources,” said Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights. “Innovation potential remains bright across global markets and diverse product categories for these versatile ingredients from cow’s milk, offering formulators the sweet spot of nutritionally high-quality proteins that complement today’s plant forward lifestyles.”  Photo source: Dutch Farms

Kristi Saitama, vice president, global ingredients marketing for USDEC, said, “Consumer interest in protein for health is no longer just in Western markets where the protein trend started but is gaining momentum and driving new product introductions around the world. Launch activity is likely to accelerate in coming years as manufacturers in Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries further discover and seek out whey and milk protein’s powerhouse nutritional package to develop local-friendly products supporting consumer health and wellness goals, such as fitness, weight management and healthy aging.”  For more information, link HERE.

6. There’s a new guide out to assist marketers with making cheese relevant for generations of snackers. Snacking has become a way of life. For some, snacks are mini meals, as the consumer is mindful of nutritional value. For others, the snack may be a treat, an indulgence or a quick boost of energy. Cheese is all of this and more. To learn more, link HERE.

7. And lucky #7, a recent survey shows that Americans love dairy. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted an online survey April 1 to 6, 2021, which included 1,014 adults ages 18 to 80 who consume dairy at least a few times a year. The results were weighted to ensure proportional results. The research was supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). 

The results showed that despite the ever-growing options available for dairy alternatives, dairy itself remains overwhelmingly popular among dairy consumers. According to the findings, nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults who consume dairy foods or beverages do so several times a week, compared to about one-quarter (28%) who say the same of nondairy alternatives like nut-, oat- or soy-based milk, ice cream, yogurt or cheese.  

Older adults have the strongest preference for dairy compared to other age groups, with four in five (80%) of those age 55+ saying they consume dairy foods or beverages multiple times per week, compared to two-thirds (67%) of 18- to 34-year-olds and 73% of those ages 35 to 54. Conversely, only 10% of adults age 55+ consume plant-based alternatives multiple times a week, compared to about one-third of younger people (34% of those ages 18 to 34 and 31% of those 35 to 54). Half of adults age 55+ say they never consume nondairy alternatives, standing in stark contrast to just under 8% of 18-34-year-olds who say the same. 

When the results are broken down by specific foods, Americans prefer cheese made from dairy over plant-based versions. (This is no surprise!) About three-quarters (74%) said they always choose the dairy version of cheese, while 20% sometimes choose nondairy. Photo source: Dutch Farms

Comparing other products, 68% always choose the dairy version of butter, while 23% sometimes choose nondairy; 66% always choose the dairy version of ice cream, while 26% sometimes choose nondairy; 64% always choose the dairy version of milk, while 26% sometimes choose nondairy; 62% always choose the dairy version of yogurt, while 22% sometimes choose nondairy; and 45% always choose the dairy version of yogurt-based smoothies or drinks, while 27% sometimes choose nondairy. Women are significantly more likely than men to sometimes choose both dairy and plant-based versions of milk (29% of women vs. 23% of men), though overall product preferences are mostly similar by gender. For more information on the survey, link HERE