Thursday, September 26, 2013

Innovative Yogurt Concepts

In the wake of the Greek yogurt craze, which I don’t need to remind you about, yogurt remains a superfood with significant upside, according to a report from Packaged Facts entitled “The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation: Greek Yogurt and Beyond.”

Packaged Facts forecasts that U.S. retail sales of yogurt will approach $9.3 billion by 2017, up from $7.3 billion in 2012. Even with its recent market growth, in the U.S., yogurt continues to be consumed at a much lower per-capita rate than in other countries where yogurt is a staple.

For more information on the Packaged Facts report, visit HERE.
I believe this presents a unique opportunity for specialty and unique brands to create a point of differentiation and attract new users and new use occasions. At the same time, they can command a premium price.

After all, those of us who have been in the dairy industry long enough remember the days when “specialty cheese” meant sharp cheddar. If you look back, the U.S. yogurt market is in a similar place as cheese once was before small niche players entered the business.

Today, specialty cheese is a vibrant category, with consumers paying steep prices for innovative offerings. Emerging innovators in the yogurt business are carving out a niche and teaching consumers that yogurt can be as much of a specialty item as farmstead blue cheese made from grass-fed cows.

Yogurt appeals to consumers' growing interest in healthful eating. From nonfat to whole milk formulations, yogurt is packed with nutrients that consumers recognize as being better for them. This includes protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and live and active cultures.

Flavor Trends
When it comes to flavor trends, Innova Market Insights tells us that fruit flavors still dominate the yogurt market. In fact, fruit flavors were featured in more than two-thirds of global launches recorded by Innova in the 12 months to the end of March 2013, rising to three-quarters of the U.S. total and nearly 70% in Latin America. This encompasses a wide range of different types of fruit, from more traditional strawberry and peach to more unusual such as papaya, damson and coconut.

Plain, natural or unflavored yogurts are the second most popular option globally, featuring in about 12% of introductions, but again this varies, depending on regional and cultural preferences for plain yogurt, with levels rising to over 22% in Asia, but falling to less than 5% in the U.S. Brown flavors, such as chocolate and caramel, took third place globally, ahead of vanilla.

According to my friend Lu Ann Williams, who is the director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, “The yogurt market is generally showing good growth, and this is reflected in terms of new product activity, where levels are continuing to rise globally. With an increasingly competitive marketplace, the need for product differentiation has led to developments in flavors over recent years, most notably into more up-market and complex options, often featuring a number of different ingredients, sometimes with formulations taken from other sectors of the market, such as desserts, bakery and confectionery.” She also notes that companies are trying to ring in the changes with increasing numbers of limited-edition and seasonal options.

The split-pot concept has helped to move the level of flavor sophistication forward. This has allowed for the addition of sauces and purees, as well as inclusions such as chocolate, candies or mini-cookies, which can be used with plain or flavored yogurt to add further interest in terms of texture.

Originally confined to dual-compartment pots, the market has now extended to include three-compartment pots, permitting wider options in terms of the number and type of ingredients that can be offered. For example, Ehrmann has been a leader in this area with its Almighurt Nach Herzenslust (for our Heart’s Desire) range, first launched in Germany in 2011 in a heart-shaped three-compartment pot. The latest addition to the range in 2013 is Zitronen-Käsekuchen & Knusperwaffeln (Lemon Cheesecake with Crispy Wafers) variant. This features vanilla yogurt in the main pot, and lemon sauce and crisp wafer pieces in the two smaller pots.

On Thursday, September 26th, I had the opportunity to walk the floor of Expo East in Baltimore, MD. From numerous conversations with varied food and beverage manufacturers, including yogurt marketers, as well as my continuous tracking of flavor trends, I am very comfortable making the following flavor predictions for yogurt. Some of these are already appearing in the marketplace, as you will see in the 15 product lines identified further in this blog.

Here are my “Big Five” flavor predictions for yogurt:
  1. Maple—alone or with another layer of flavor, either sweet or salty, as maple possesses both tastes, which makes it very complementary. Why maple? It’s a natural progression from honey being using as a sweetener and as a characterizing flavor in Greek yogurt. It’s also bolder than caramel, which remains popular, and thus appeals to consumers’ adventurous taste buds.
  2. Cinnamon—not necessarily alone, but with fruit or even maple! Cinnamon is a comforting flavor that possesses a healthful, healing halo, and also delivers some kick, not quite as much as one gets in a stick of Big Red gum, but still some kick. This is particularly appealing to consumers who appreciate Hispanic flavors.
  3. Ginger, same story as cinnamon, but with ginger, the association is with Asian cuisine.
  4. Cherry is the next berry. (When my husband proofread this, he declared, “Berry in dairy might be replaceable but “Berry On Dairy” is not. Thanks honey!) Cherry, in its many varietals, is quickly becoming very trendy in beverages and this will carry over to yogurt, as well as other dairy foods. Cherries have many recognized health benefits and this is resonating with consumers. 
  5. Chocolate bits, chips, flakes and pieces, are the trendy inclusion in all types of foods, and yogurt is destined to be next. If the chocolate is dark, it gives consumers permission to indulge, as they accept the fact that dark chocolate is a concentrated source of heart-healthy antioxidants.
The Next Generation of Frozen Yogurt
Greek continues to be the word…but there’s so much more beyond the pint and stick novelty. Think innovative shapes and sizes.

“While ice cream remains the largest segment of the ice cream and frozen novelties market, sales dipped following the economic downturn. The expanding array of snack options, as well as a lack of product innovation, contributed to this performance,” according to Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel. “In contrast, the frozen yogurt segment has benefited from a perfect storm of factors, including the growing popularity of yogurt among U.S. consumers, the growing acceptance of frozen yogurt as a snack, and a perception of a higher health profile that coincides with increased attention placed on better-for-you products.”

Recently Introduced On-Trend Innovations

Let’s Start with the Package

In case you missed the Daily Dose of Dairy showcasing Chobani’s new pouch package, you can check it out HERE. This package makes Greek yogurt more portable.

This package positions yogurt as an artisan delicacy. You can almost see it being sampled by “yogurt mongers” in a specialty yogurt section of a grocery store.

From Traders Point Creamery, the company showcases its European-style whole milk yogurt in unique 5-ounce glass jars sealed with foil, similar to traditional European yogurt pots. Made with organic milk from strictly grass-fed cows, product labels tout the fact that the grass-fed milk is an inherent source of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. Individual pots sell at a premium, about $2.00 each.

There are four whole milk varieties--Banana Mango, Plain, Raspberry and Wildberry—as well as a low-fat Plain. For more information, visit HERE.

This company wants you to feel what its product can potentially deliver. Designed by food scientists with input from trainers and sport nutritionists, with men as the target consumer, Powerful Yogurt is an all-natural, high-protein yogurt that claims to offer health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

The company’s patent-pending packaging has “abs” molded into the cup to communicate to men how the high-quality protein in Powerful Yogurt can assist with building their six-pack.

Focus on Protein

At Expo East, Powerful Yogurt introduced a maple-flavored Greek yogurt, growing the line to seven flavors. An 8-ounce cup, a manly serving size, provides 21 grams of dairy protein.

“Innovation and continuous improvement is what drives Powerful Yogurt,” said Founder and CEO Carlos Ramirez, who I had the pleasure to meet, along with his incredible staff, on the expo floor. “Our great-tasting new maple flavor is a sign of our commitment to keep the ‘yogurt for men and active lifestyles’ category exciting and different as we pioneer it from the ground up.”

Named “Best Yogurt” earlier this year at the 2013 Dairy Innovation Awards, Powerful Yogurt is differentiated from existing Greek yogurts by its 20 to 25 grams of protein, depending on variety, a serving size that is 50% larger than most individual-serving Greek yogurts, and marketing and packaging that speaks to male consumers and the active lifestyle. For more information, visit HERE.

Combining sweet flavors with a savory twist, The Greek Gods brand from The Hain Celestial Group Inc., is introducing Honey Salted Caramel Yogurt. This new flavor comes in a convenient 24-ounce family-sized container. For more information, visit HERE.

AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery has developed a line of artisanal Greek yogurts made from “milk from humanely treated, fully pastured, grass-fed Georgia cows,” according to the company.

The product comes in multiple fat levels in a range of flavors, including: Bananas Foster, Black Cherry & Port Wine, Maple Bacon, Peach & Ginger, Strawberry Basil Balsamic and Tropical Sweet Heat.
For more information, visit HERE.

Rich and Indulgent
Dreaming Cow Yogurt makes New Zealand-style cream-top (non-homogenized) yogurt using milk from the family-owner’s own grass-fed cows in Georgia. Flavors include Honey Pear, Maple Ginger and Vanilla Agave. For more information, visit HERE.

The Tillamook County Creamery Association recently added dessert yogurts to its lineup. The three-flavor line is made with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, as well as no high fructose corn syrup. The dessert line is made with fruits and honey sourced from the Pacific Northwest. Varieties are: Honey Cinnamon Crème Brûlée, Marionberry Cobbler and Peach Raspberry á la Mode. The dessert yogurts come in family-size 24-ounce containers and have a suggested retail price of $4.29.
For more information, visit HERE.

Retail giant Safeway introduces a line of single-serve (5.5-ounce) dessert yogurt cups under its private-label Lucerne brand. There are three flavors: Cinnamon Roll, Raspberry Torte and Strawberry Cheesecake. They are all based on nonfat yogurt and include a cake base flavor as well as flavored chips that deliver an interesting texture.

Focus on Ingredients

Noosa shows off how its Australian-style yogurt is loaded with premium fruit by packing it in clear containers. For more information, visit HERE.

Yoplait places an emphasis on the fruit content of its new Yoplait Fruitful, with each 6-ounce cup containing one-third cup of real fruit. The yogurt also happens to be made from whole milk. Varieties are: Blueberry, Cherries & Red Berries, Mango Pineapple & Orange, Peach, Pineapple and Strawberry.

For more information, visit HERE.

Yoplait is also bragging about everything that its newly reformulated Yoplait Go-GURT yogurt does not contain. That is no high fructose corn syrup, or artificial colors or flavors.

“Our consumers expressed their need for a product that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup for their kids and we listened and acted,” says Justin Conzemius, Yoplait associate marketing director. “For the past year, we have been working on a product that would achieve those goals, yet continue to deliver a product that kids found fun and delicious.”

“We know that sugar is a concern for parents and that parents desire more natural products,” says Melissa Haase, Yoplait research and development. “While there were hurdles with the new reformulation, we were also able to reduce the sugar by 1 gram and lower the calories from 70 to 60 calories per serving.”
For more information, visit HERE.

Fresh from the Freezer
Two new flavors, Raspberry and Chocolatey Chip, join Ruggles’ popular Lowfat Greek Frozen Yogurt line. Ruggles Chocolatey Chip Lowfat Greek Frozen Yogurt is chocolate yogurt with dark chocolate morsels, while Ruggles Raspberry Lowfat Greek Frozen Yogurt features raspberry yogurt with raspberry puree. The new flavors join Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla Bean flavors in pints and single-serve 4-ounce containers.

“Greek yogurt has a loyal following for its taste, and has become incredibly popular with those consumers looking for a healthy all-natural frozen treat,” says Penny Baker, director of marketing for Ruggles. “Our Lowfat Greek Frozen Yogurt has at least double the protein of regular frozen yogurts and also has live and active cultures for digestive health.”

The pints have a suggested retail price of $4.99, while the single-serving 4-ounce cups sell for about $1.49. Each single-serving cup also includes a spoon for convenience.

For more information, visit HERE.

A Peak at Two of Next Week’s Daily Dose of Dairy Products

Rich Products Corp., has fashioned a new dessert category with the launch of the first-ever Greek frozen yogurt bar cakes and cupcakes.
(Look for them as a Daily Dose of Dairy on Tuesday, October 1st.)

Tarté Asian Yogurt is a lighter, less sweet style than most flavored yogurt, yet it is still very smooth and creamy and with a higher protein yogurt. (This new product line will be featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy on Monday, Sept. 30th.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Milk: The More We Learn, the Greater is its Wow Factor

A Daily Dose of Dairy subscriber called me on Thursday asking how in the world I find enough new products to feature one daily. I explained that I actually have a back log of innovations, and how I will need to be even more discerning with the items I feature as I provide more international coverage. (This will happen very soon, as I will be attending Anuga in two weeks and will bring back details on all the WOW items to share with you.)

Frankly, I love having this problem…too many WOWs, not enough space to write about them. This was not the case 20 years ago when I began reporting on how to develop innovative dairy foods.

A lot has happened in the past 20 years to better position products made from milk as WOW foods. Think protein, probiotics, and more.

For more information on protein in dairy, read THIS.

About World School Milk Day

World School Milk Day is organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Celebrating its 14th year, the event has grown to become an annual celebration in more than 40 countries around the world with continued growth each year. The FAO’s goal is to provide a particular day when attention is focused on school milk and to have all countries celebrating on the same day. The end of the month was selected to allow countries sufficient time to prepare for this day, as in most of the countries surveyed the school year starts in early September. Wednesday was chosen as it was a school day in all countries. This year the celebration takes place on September 25.

For more information, visit HERE.

The celebration is designed to promote the importance of drinking school milk to children in a fun, memorable and educational way. Dairies that provide milk to schools, as well as dairy councils/associations around the world provide schools with materials to celebrate this special day…to celebrate milk’s WOW.

“World School Milk Day provides students with an engaging way to learn about the importance of drinking milk as part of a healthy, balanced diet,” says Cindy Sorensen, vice president-business development, Midwest Dairy Association, St. Paul, MN. “Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that kids need to stay alert and ready to learn.”

The Midwest Dairy Association distributed this flier to area schools. The association has also been working with its processor partners, encouraging them to be a part of this outreach to support World School Milk Day.

Additional resources are available HERE.

The Southeast Dairy Association offers a number of downloadable resources to assist schools with their celebration. New for 2013 are grade-specific lesson plans that help educators detail the nutritional benefits of milk.

For more information, visit HERE.

Check out this news broadcast on World School Milk Day HERE.

Anuga, the World’s Leading Food Fair, Is Two Weeks Away
In two weeks, suppliers and top-decision makers of the global retail trade and foodservice and catering markets will be in Cologne, Germany, attending Anuga, the leading trade fair for the global food industry. A central business and communications platform, this biennial event will take place October 5 to 9, 2013.

Anuga features 10 specialized trade show segments in one location. The segments are: 1) Bread & Bakery, Hot Beverages, 2) Chilled & Fresh Foods, 3) Dairy, 4) Drinks, 5) Fine Food, 6) Foodservice, 7) Frozen Food, 8) Meat, 9) Organic and 10) RetailTec. For 2013, Anuga organizers have identified 10 trend topics that will be highlighted throughout the 10 segments. They are: 1) Finger Food 2) Gourmet Products & Regional Specialties, 3) Halal Food, 4) Health & Functional Food, 5) Ingredients, 6) Kosher Products, 7) Organic Products, 8) Private Label, 9) Vegetarian Products and – new for 2013 – 10) Products Based on Fair Trade.

Anuga Dairy will host around 380 companies, including Alpro, Bauer, Bayernland, Bongrain, Conaprole, DMK Deutsches Milchkontor, Dodoni, Ehrmann, Emmi, Eru, Fage Dairy, FrieslandCampina, Grupo Leche Pascual, Gloria, Heiderbeck, Hochwald, Hoogwegt, Kerry, Luxlait, Nordex, Salzburgmilch, Saputo, Solo Italia, Uhrenholt, Unilac, Valio, Vivartia, Westland and Zanetti. There will also be group participations from Belgium, France, Greece, UK, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Spain and Cyprus. Group participations from the German states of Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia will also present their consolidated expertise. In other words, Anuga Dairy will provide the world’s most comprehensive overview of the international dairy market.

I will be there collecting the latest and greatest on dairy foods that go WOW and will report back to you through the Daily Dose of Dairy.

For more information on Anuga, visit HERE.

Scientists From Around the World Convene for 10th Year to Study Milk
There is no “I” in team, but there is one in “milk.” Thanks to efforts by the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) and the University of California, Davis (UCD), the “I” in milk refers to “international,” and is indicative of the collaborative efforts of researchers and research end-users from around the world to accelerate the understanding of the biological processes underlying mammalian milk genomics…to increase milk’s WOW factor.

These experts will convene October 1 to 3, 2013, in Davis, CA, for the 10th International Symposium on Milk Genomics and Human Health. An event of the International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC), which was initiated in 2004 by CDRF and UCD, this annual event provides a collaborative and interactive pre-competitive resource platform for those involved in the study and application of science in the fields of milk and lactation.

Topics for this year’s Symposium include:
  • The milk-intestine relationship, from absorption to protection
  • Milk genomics breakthroughs over the past 10 years
  • Milk composition and human health
  • Human milk diversity
“When we started out a decade ago, science was in the midst of a dramatic change with spectacular new tools of genomics and systems biology, making it possible to understand all of life in unprecedented breadth and detail,” says Dr. Bruce German, professor, Director-Foods for Health Institute, Department of Food Science & Technology, UCD. “We recognized the value in working together as an international team of scientists, rather than the slower-paced efforts of independent research.

“The strategy of IMGC is to bring together scientists from around the world and across all disciplines to understand not just how milk is made, but why it’s made,” he adds. “At the start of IMGC, less than 5% of the scientists had ever co-authored publications together; at the present, 45% of scientists have jointly authored publications.”

The tactics are collaborative. “During the past 10 years, scientists from physical, chemical and biological sciences have collaborated in multiple projects, yet all with milk at the core,” adds Dr. German. “By bringing together scientists from many disciplines, we have learned astonishing new facts about milk.”

Discoveries include:
  • From evolutionary anthropologists: All mammals share astonishingly similar strategies for lactation
  • From nutritional anthropologists: Higher quality of early diets in primates makes them more curious and less anxious throughout the life cycle
  • From geneticists: Milk contains genetic material passing from mother to infant
  • From cell scientists: Milk contains living maternal stem cells
  • From immunologists: Milk guides the development of infant immunity and partially protects infants from allergy throughout the life cycle
  • From microbiologists: Milk contains beneficial bacteria
  • From chemists: Milk contains non-digestible carbohydrates
  • From microbiologists: These non-digestible carbohydrates feed only beneficial bacteria

IMGC is generously supported by multinational and international organizations, such as Abbott Nutrition, Dairy Australia (DA), Dutch Dairy Organization (NZO), Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFA), National Interprofessional Center for Dairy Economy (CNIEL) and CDRF.
IMGC is managed by CDRF, a non-profit corporation deeply embedded in the California dairy industry and its communities to lead and deliver pre-competitive research and science-based educational programs for an innovative and sustainable California and U.S. dairy industry.

“CDRF invests in both short-term and long-term projects,” says Dr. Gonca Pasin, Executive Director of CDRF. “CDRF programs should predominantly benefit the California and U.S. dairy industry, but some have benefits beyond national borders. This is exemplified by CDRF’s ongoing support and management of IMGC.”

IMGC organizes the annual Symposium to promote the advancement of milk genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics knowledge tools. “The annual Symposium is our flagship event. It features scientific research related to milk genomics and human health conducted around the world,” says Dr. Pasin.

“Our goal is to bring the international milk genomics community together, facilitate sharing information and viewpoints, and provide direction for the IMGC on a regular basis,” says Dr. German. “This allows us to build a community with a shared vision on milk genomics.”

Dr. Pasin adds, “This October marks the 10th year of the Symposium. We have learned so much in the past decade, but there is so much more to learn about this living, dynamic, personal and structured mammalian secretion known as mother’s milk.”  MOM = WOW!

IMGC communicates about breakthroughs in milk science and human health through the “SPLASH! milk science update” monthly newsletter. “Collectively IMGC aims to facilitate the transition of experimental discoveries into usable benefits,” says Dr. Pasin. “The newsletter does this in an eloquent and comprehensible manner so all stakeholders remain current with progress in this field.”

For more information on the Consortium and the Symposium, as well as to sign up for the “SPLASH! milk science update” newsletter, visit HERE

Probiotics in Milk Have the Potential to be a WOW

In case you missed my article entitled “The uncertain future of probiotics in the United States” published in a September 2013 issue of Food Business News, you can read it HERE.

Here’s your chance to help make probiotics a greater WOW with Americans.

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) posted comments to the 2015 United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (U.S. DGAC), requesting that the committee consider the value of a diet containing probiotics and prebiotics for reducing disease risk in Americans.

Read the probiotic comment HERE.

Read the prebiotic comment HERE.

A significant show of support for these comments from the scientific community would increase the legitimacy of the comment. To the extent you agree (or disagree) with the ideas present in these comments, posting your concise thoughts with a reference to these postings would be very helpful for getting these comments seriously considered by the U.S. DGAC.

Post your comment HERE. (There is a 5,000 character limit to a posting.)

The next meeting of the DGAC will be October 3 to 4, so comments should be posted prior to this for greatest impact.

WOW! This was an exhausting blog to write. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Art of Coloring Dairy Foods, Naturally

Before I discuss coloring dairy foods with natural colors, I am providing you a real-life example of why all of your product development efforts moving forward should emphasize the use of colors exempt from certification.

(If you don’t want to read the story, skip down to the section “Natural Color Update.”)

The Fanta Orange Experiment

It’s all about Fanta Orange, the States’ version vs. Canada’s. This has been almost a daily topic between me and my almost 14-year-old son…and not generated by me. I find my son’s observations brilliant, and not just because I am his mom. I believe his thought process regarding foods and their ingredients is very reflective of his generation—the kids we are rearing to be foodies. In fact, my son was taught in 7th grade health class that it is smart to avoid artificial colors and flavors.

Anyway, during our Labor Day road trip to Niagara Falls, I allowed my son to indulge on his second-favorite beverage, Fanta Orange. (Number-one, of course, is milk.) His first Canadian Fanta Orange was from a chilled can from the vending machine at our Windsor hotel. His second was a fountain beverage, served in a tinted glass at a dimly lit restaurant in Toronto. He slurped up every last drop of both.

The next day, during my trip to Loblaw’s, I decided to purchase a 12-pack of cans. Upon checking into our Niagara Falls hotel, he filled the ice bucket, put some cubes in a nice clear glass and poured his third dose of Canadian Fanta Orange. I’m not sure exactly what was vocalized, but it was something between a dragged out “yuck” and a gagging sound.(The soda was not the "fake" vibrant orange he expected...but no worries, in the end, he was OK with. Read on.)

Because we were heading out to the Maid of the Mist boat ride under the Falls, I tabled the discussion. The next day I casually brought up how the Canadian Fanta Orange contains no artificial colors or flavors. Front panels even explain it is made with real oranges. Still, he was done with it…at least for the next few days.

The 12-pack made it back to Chicago, but I had my doubts, as border patrol in Buffalo was more challenging than the last time I went to Tijuana. Once settled back home, I convinced my son to do a blind taste test. He chose the Canadian version. (The products do taste different because of the orange juice and sweeteners.)

I explained the differences in the formula, which actually surprised me. The U.S. version contains no real oranges and gets its color from FD&C Yellow 6 and FD&C Red 40.

He concluded he prefers the Canadian version because it is “less fake.” Now he wants me to start importing the product.

Lessons Learned from a Teen-age Boy
  • He understands the difference between natural and artificial colors, and prefers “less fake.”
  • He said that it was not nice that the U.S. product had fake colors to make him think it had real oranges.
  • He really has overestimated his mom’s connections. I cannot import Canadian Fanta Orange!

Natural Color Update

In case you missed my last blog on coloring dairy foods, please read about “Coloring Dairy Foods…The Fine Print” by clicking HERE.

And, if you need a refresher course on food color additive regulations in the States, scroll to the bottom of this blog for “Food Colors 101.”

In general, artificial colorings are manufactured from petroleum-based raw materials. Colors exempt from certification, commonly referred to as natural colors, are obtained from a variety of sources, including plants, minerals, insects and fermentation, resources considered by many to be natural.  Some suppliers do differentiate themselves by only providing “natural” colors from fruits, vegetables and plants.

Many natural colors are available in organic formats, as well as can be designed to be oil soluble. Check out the following color chart to see the range of hues that can be obtained with natural colors…and some that will be attainable in the near future.

Table Source: GNT USA

The Future of Blue
In case you have not heard, FDA recently approved spirulina extract as a natural blue food color for candy and chewing gum. The ruling is effective Friday the 13th of September. This approval was in response to a petition from Mars Inc., filed in January 2012, when the confection giant petitioned that the color additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of spirulina blue, an extract made from the biomass of spirulina, to color candy and chewing gum. (There is more on spirulina below.)

According to FoodNavigator-US, Mars said it filed its petition to get spirulina extract approved to color candy and gum last year because “there has previously been no suitable naturally sourced color that can be used to make green and blue confectionery that meets our consumers’ expectations.” (Interestingly, when I pointed out to my son that his favorite snack, YoCrunch Yogurt with M&Ms, was loaded with artificial colors…in those Mars’ candies…he explained he was willing to let it slide.)

Unlike other “natural” blues in the market, which are fruit-juice based and categorized as such, spirulina extract now has its own separate regulation. It can be viewed HERE.

As of now, spirulina extract has not been approved for use in dairy. But, wow, look what it can do in ice cream and yogurt.

Photo source: GNT USA

Understanding Spirulina
According to The Health Professional’s Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements, third edition, a desk reference published by the American Dietetic Association, spirulina is one of many forms of blue-green algae. It is a multicellular organism that grows wild in highly alkaline lakes. Its characteristic blue-green color is due to its chlorophyll and phycocyanin content. These pigments have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties; hence the reason spirulina has long been tabletted and sold as a dietary supplement.

Spirulina is considered an edible plant. In many countries, especially throughout Africa, spirulina are harvested and dried into cakes that are served as a center-of-plate protein, often with flavorful sauces. Dried spirulina contains 60% to 70% protein, 10% to 20% carbohydrate, 9% to 14% lipids, 4% nucleic acids and 6% ash. In many countries, spirulina is considered a superfood, even in the States.

Inventure Foods Inc., recently introduced Jamba Green Fusion fruit and veggie smoothie. It’s the latest in a long line of frozen at-home smoothie kits developed by the Phoenix-based company, in partnership with smoothie retailer Jamba Juice Co. Green Fusion combines green apple, mango, pineapple, kiwi, banana, broccoli, spinach and spirulina to offer a sweet, yet hearty smoothie appropriate for morning commutes, post-workout recovery or a better-for-you snack.

Food Colors 101
The term color additive is legally defined in Title 21, Part 70 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 70). Basically, any ingredient with the sole purpose of adding color to a food or beverage is a color additive, with all color additives requiring approval by FDA as a food additive.

In the U.S., synthetic food colors are classified by FDA as color additives subject to certification (21 CFR 74). They are certified with an FD&C number. This indicates that the additive has been tested for safety and is approved for used in foods, drugs and cosmetics, or FD&C. Seven colors were initially approved under the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Over time, several have been delisted and replaced. Today there are still seven, which can be combined into an infinite number of colors; hence, the seven are considered primary colors.

The seven synthetics are further classified as standardized dyes or lakes. Dyes are a concentrated source of color and are water soluble and oil insoluble. Lakes, on the other hand, are made by combining dyes with salts to make them water-insoluble compounds. Thus, they are best described as providing color by dispersion. Lakes are considered to be more stable than dyes and are ideal for coloring products that either contain fat or lack sufficient moisture to dissolve dyes.

FDA also provides a list of color additives that are exempt from certification (21 CFR 73). By default, these colors are often characterized as natural but FDA does not consider any color added to as food unless the color is natural to the product itself. For example, consumers expect strawberry milk to have a red hue. If strawberry juice is added for color, and providing that none of the other ingredients in the milk were characterized as artificial, this product could be labeled “all-natural strawberry milk.” Such a description is not possible if beet juice, an FDA-recognized exempt-from-certification color additive, is used for a colorful boost. What is appropriate to say is “does not contain any artificial colors.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Want Protein? Drink Milk!

Protein was the buzz at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting + Food Expo in Chicago this past July. For the most part, ingredient suppliers were showcasing their isolated protein ingredients for use in all types of foods and beverages, as formulators are aggressively trying to boost protein contents in order to make protein content claims…one of the hottest trends in the world of food and beverage marketing.

“Flagging protein content on foods and beverages is one of the most common labeling trends at the moment,” according to Lu Ann Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands. “And I don’t see this changing, as consumers are aware of protein’s ability to curb your appetite and contribute to lean muscle development. When you eat more protein, you tend to eat fewer carbs and fat, so a growing number of marketers are emphasizing the positive—the protein content—and not even commenting on the product’s other nutrients.”

The great news for fluid milk marketers is that an 8-ounce glass of milk inherently contains 8 grams of high-quality, complete protein, making it a good source of protein by delivering 16% of the Daily Value. The protein in milk is a blend of casein and whey and contains all of the essential amino acids in the proportion that the body needs.

Milk Proteins in the Morning

Earlier this year I wrote a blog entitled: Protein for Breakfast--and When They Are Dairy Proteins, You Get Better Benefits. You can view it HERE.

MilkPEP agrees that milk proteins are the best way to start the day and wants to communicate this to Americans. On August 21, MilkPEP launched a brand new program designed to drive awareness of milk’s high-quality protein. Built from in-depth research that identified the impactful power of the milk protein message, MilkPEP’s new Protein Fight Club program is designed to motivate behavior change and spur milk consumption at breakfast…the most important meal of the day.

Why Protein?

At IFT, Chicago-based market research firm Mintel presented “Protein: Is it the Next Big Thing?” The answer is yes, according to Lynn Dornblaser, director-innovation and insight with Mintel.  She explained to IFT attendees that more than two-fifths of U.S. consumers say they don’t drink energy drinks because they “don’t seem safe,” opening the door for other ways to provide an energy lift. “And that energy is in the form of protein,” she said. Protein’s “sustained energy” is more appealing than the “fast energy” one gets with carbohydrates and caffeine.

She explained that among all new food and beverage introductions in the past year, dairy leads with the number of protein claims. “This is being driven by the popularity of Greek yogurt,” said Dornblaser.

Because it resonates with consumers that dairy foods contain protein, the time is right to make sure that consumers understand that the same great high-quality protein that is in Greek yogurt and other dairy foods is in a glass of milk.

The Protein Fight Club

The main message of the Protein Fight Club campaign is that the way for consumers to win their day is by starting each morning with milk. The multi-media campaign elevates the protein in milk as a competitive advantage over orange juice and other common breakfast items.

The campaign includes a series of eight videos that communicate that there are 8 grams of protein in each 8-ounce serving of milk. It puts the spotlight on protein by depicting milk in a series of humorous breakfast battles that showcase how milk’s protein stacks up against the competition and can help win each day.
Both entertaining and unforgettable, the video vignettes are now appearing on TV and online and are featured on You can also view the videos through these links:

We want to capture America’s attention with a quirky tone and remind them that milk is a good source of high-quality protein,” says Julia Kadison, vice president, MilkPEP. “While most Americans know milk is nutrient-packed, they tend to think of calcium and vitamin D, forgetting that milk is a great-tasting, versatile and natural source of protein as well.”

The Protein Fight Club campaign is also helping Americans win their own breakfast battles with a promotion that gives away a free gallon of milk every minute for eight weeks, and giving one person each week a chance to win free milk for a year. The promotion--at designed to encourage Americans to get into a healthy routine by starting each morning with milk’s high-quality protein.

MilkPEP members have access to the Protein Fight Club Playbook, which includes an array of marketing materials that can be customized for their brand, as well as downloadable marketing materials for digital and social programs and materials that can be ordered for retail merchandising.

If you would like to learn more about accessing the Protein Fight Club assets and materials, please contact Melissa Malcolm at

Talking Points for the Campaign

The fact is, almost two-thirds of Americans say they’re trying to get more protein in their diet, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s Food and Health Survey 2012, 2013. Yet, most people underestimate the importance of both getting protein at breakfast and the protein prowess of one of breakfast’s most popular staples: milk.

When it comes to an affordable, convenient, great-tasting morning protein that packs a serious punch, other breakfast options simply can’t match the power of milk, according to the campaign. 

While many Americans are looking to add more protein to their diets, breakfast is the meal they are least likely to seek out this important nutrient, and, yet, it may be the most important. Experts recommend including 20 grams to 30 grams of protein at each meal rather than in one large amount, but research shows that most adults are getting only 10 grams to 12 grams of protein at breakfast.

“Spreading out your protein throughout the day can optimize how your body uses it--and that means making sure you include enough protein at breakfast,” says David Grotto, best-selling author, dad and registered dietitian. “But not all protein is created equal. Milk protein is a complete protein. Many plant protein sources are missing some of the building blocks your body needs.”

From muscles to hair, bones to teeth, the body needs protein to be strong and healthy. Milk is a natural source of high-quality protein to build muscle, calcium to strengthen bones and B vitamins for energy. Milk is a breakfast powerhouse, packed with nine essential nutrients in each glass.

“Whether in a glass, cup or bowl, milk with breakfast is a delicious, easy and affordable way to help power you through the morning so you can win each day,” says Grotto.

David Wright, senior manager-marketing with The Hartman Group, Bellevue, WA, sums up the trend of protein in the morning.  “Among ingredients sought for health benefits, protein is high on the list of consumer priorities because it’s typically seen as filling and relates to notions of satiety,” he says. “Consumers also equate protein with energy, which is why consuming protein for breakfast is a great way to start the day.

“For most consumers, protein can do no wrong,” adds Wright. “They see consuming protein as a way to attain balanced nutrition, sustained energy and increased mental performance, as well as assist with weight management, build muscle strength and balance blood sugar. Further, protein is typically viewed as a key component to proper development in children.”

Milk…It starts the day off right!