Friday, March 8, 2013

Formulating with Yogurt

Photo Source: U.S. Dairy Export Council

On Tuesday, March 5, The Huffington Post published an article about Greek yogurt invading other food stuffs, from cream cheese to hummus. You can read the article HERE.

Wow, the industry moves fast. It was just the week before that my article entitled “Made with Yogurt” was published in Food Business News/Dairy Business News. You can read the article HERE.

All kidding aside, formulating with yogurt, not just Greek yogurt, is a growing trend in almost all food categories.  Innovations flagging the inclusion of yogurt are banking on the fact that yogurt’s healthful halo will transfer, enhancing product appeal among today’s label-reading consumers.

However, not all yogurt ingredients are created equal. For starters, most non-refrigerated products rely on yogurt ingredients that have been heat treated, thus they do not contain live and active cultures unless specialty heat-tolerant probiotics are added. Still, use of such heat-treated yogurt ingredients, which typically come in a dried format, contain the nutrition found in the original yogurt, such as calcium and protein.  You can read more about dried yogurt ingredients HERE.

Refrigerated and frozen products will typically use fresh yogurt with live and active cultures. But depending on the application, this yogurt is often formulated for use in a specific application, as viscosity, syneresis and texture must be managed to best complement the other ingredients.

To engage in this “formulating with yogurt” movement, dairy processors can supply the food and beverage industries with yogurt ingredients—in refrigerated bulk or dried (produced in-house or by contracting with a drier) forms—and they can use their own yogurt to get creative in their product offerings.  Again, yogurt manufacturers must be open to creating formulations for specific applications.

Here are 10 product concepts to assist with your innovating endeavors. (You can also view more HERE.)

Kefir, a cultured milk considered the Eastern European cousin of yogurt, now comes in freeze-dried form. Though the product is shelf stable, the freeze-drying process preserves the viability of the cultures. The same is true for most of the similar freeze-dried yogurt snacks that have rolled out in the past year.

Lifeway Foods, the United States’ leading kefir manufacturer, introduced Lifeway ProBugs Bites at the 2013 Natural Products Expo West trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center. These tiny freeze-dried kefir melts quickly dissolve in baby’s mouth for safe and easy self-feeding. Varieties are: Orange Creamy Crawler, Goo-Berry Pie and Strawnana Split flavors. Product packs carry the tagline: made by moms. (Thanks Julie…you are amazing!) For more information, visit HERE.

At the same show, Sprout Foods rolled out a lne of toddler snacks that are based on Greek yogurt, grains and fruit. The shelf-stable snacks come in the increasingly popular, kid-friendly squeeze pouch. Varieties are Blueberry Brown Rice with Greek Yogurt, Red Berry Barley with Greek Yogurt and Tropical Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt.
For more information, visit HERE.


The Gerber brand includes yogurt in many of its snack and meal offerings. Here’s one of the most recent introductions, which is targeted to toddlers who like to play with their food.
For more information, visit HERE.

Packaging for fruit- and yogurt-based smoothies continues to evolve as manufacturers try to deliver the freshest product to consumers, yet with a shelf life that allows for efficient distribution. That’s what Dole Packaged Foods hopes it has achieved with the new Dole Fruit Smoothie Shaker product, where the packaging is integral to the consumption of the product.  

The user-friendly, functional and attractive high-end single-serve container solves a convenience hurdle that limited home consumption of hand-blended smoothie-type products. The product contains both frozen fruit and yogurt. A special proprietary process eliminates the need for a blender, which is one of the biggest complaints consumers have about making smoothies at home, according to the company. Simply unscrew the cap, add juice to the fill line, re-apply the cap and shake for about 30 to 45 seconds. The result is a perfectly blended smoothie, just like from the local smoothie shop. Each low-fat smoothie contains real yogurt with live and active cultures, including probiotics, as well as prebiotic fiber.
For more information, visit HERE.

Yogurt is even a sandwich filling! Make that a frozen novelty sandwich filling. TCBY, The Country’s Best Yogurt and frozen yogurt pioneer, is in a licensing partnership with Spring Creek Holdings for a retail line of pre-packaged frozen yogurt. This includes an extensive line of pints and quarts of hard-pack frozen yogurt, as well as a variety of novelties, including frozen yogurt sandwiches and bars.
For more information, visit HERE.

The Popsicle brand is incorporating yogurt into an array of frozen novelties…to be specific, 10% yogurt is in each novelty. Some of the novelties enrobe a core of frozen yogurt with a flavorful water ice, while others swirl or layer different flavors of a yogurt-based dessert.
For more information, visit HERE.

Move over garbanzo beans. Greek yogurt is the base for a new line of innovative refrigerated dips from La Terra Fina. The dips are merchandised in the self-service deli case next to hummus.
Each of the three lines has two flavors. They are:
1)    Salad Inspired: A riff on gourmet salad entrees, these dips pair fresh chopped vegetables with Greek yogurt, resulting in combinations with approximately half the fat and calories than regular dips.
  • Greek Kalamata Olives & Spinach: Leafy spinach and sun-dried tomatoes are blended with creamy Greek yogurt then finished with a fresh squeeze of lemon and salty Kalamata olives.
  • Balsamic Beet & White Bean: The natural sweetness of nutrient-rich beets is a perfect complement for Greek yogurt, with a savory touch of basil and salty Parmesan cheese and a splash of Balsamic vinegar.
2)    Creamy Vegetable: A blend of summer vegetables, herbs and Greek yogurt, the vegetable fusion flavors are ideal for a light dip or sandwich spread as an alternative to hummus, but with up to 65% less fat and fewer calories.
  • Roasted Yellow Pepper & Lentil: Yellow bell peppers are roasted, then blended with savory red lentils and tangy Greek yogurt for a perfect balance of sweet and savory.
  • Red Lentil Curry: Roasted garlic and spicy curry add a rich layer to this blend of creamy Greek yogurt and simmered red lentils for a hearty dip.
3)    Mediterranean Classics: An update on snacking favorites, the classics line adds chef-influenced flavors to popular stand-bys.
  • Creamy Spinach & Bacon: Roasted garlic and smoky bacon kick the classic spinach dip up a notch.
  • Caramelized Onion: Rich caramelized red onions with a hint of balsamic are blended with tangy Greek yogurt for a healthier and more flavorful alternative to this party favorite.
For more information, visit HERE.

Refrigerated salad dressing manufacturer T. Marzetti Co., uses yogurt as its base in the Simply Dressed & Light line, which includes four creamy-style light dressings (blue cheese, Caesar, celery seed slaw and ranch), all of which are made with a minimal number of all-natural, simple ingredients. When comparing the nutritionals of the Blue Cheese variety in the Simply Dressed and the Simply Dressed & Light lines, the latter has about a one-third fewer calories and half the calories of the former thanks to the use of yogurt.
For more information, visit HERE.

The Safeway retail chain continues to grow its Open Nature brand of all-natural foods. This Tzatziki yogurt dip uses kefir yogurt as a base. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.
For more information, visit HERE.

Specialty foods retailer Trader Joe’s now offers private-label Mediterranean Greek Yogurt Dip. The ingredient statement lists Greek yogurt (cultured pasteurized grade A milk, cream, condensed skim milk, whey protein concentrate, tapioca starch, pectin) as the first ingredient, followed by feta cheese. Za’atar seasoning (sesame seed, spices, sumac, salt, roasted sesame oil) gives the dip its unique flavor profile. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 60 calories, 5 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.

As America gears up for the summer picnic season, expect to see yogurt used in more deli salads, including close slaw, potato salad and macaroni.

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