Friday, July 25, 2014

Clean Label Series: Opportunities in Dairy Desserts

The beauty of anything dairy is its natural, healthful halo, which is why dairy foods formulators are smart to keep labels clean when getting creative. You don’t want some chemically sounding ingredient or an artificial additive to tarnish an ingredient legend.

The category of dairy desserts is one that is very underdeveloped in the U.S. Elsewhere in the world, refrigerated dairy desserts are a booming business that continues to grow in both the pre-packaged refrigerated case and at the bakery/confection counter of mainstream supermarkets.

In the States, pre-packaged products have limited shelf space and fresh products are limited to select finer, specialty food retailers. In some scenarios, retailers with limited experience with refrigerated dairy desserts are not even sure where to merchandise them.

For example, while in Michigan this week, I did what I always do when out of town, I explored the grocery story. Lo and behold, Stonyfield’s new Petite Crème line was at Meijer…in the yogurt section! Petite Crème is not yogurt. It is a thick, yet silky low-fat, high-protein fresh cheese, as it is made with cheese cultures. It is best compared to crème fraîche.

I guess it’s the seven flavors--Belle Blueberry, La Vie en Strawberry, Mon Cherry Amour, Ooh LaLa Peach, Plain, Strawberry-Banana Menage and Vive La Vanilla—that resemble yogurt flavors that have retailers merchandising it in that part of the refrigerated dairy case.

Back at home, I went to Mariano’s yesterday. I found Kemp’s Greek Mousse near the refrigerated puddings…but its Greek Cottage Cheese was there, too. That should have been with the other cottage cheese products.

So here’s what we need to do in the States: develop more dairy desserts so that retailers can create a space for them in order to better grab consumers’ attention. There is so much opportunity for innovation, especially as the millennial consumer seeks out impulse, indulgent products made locally with premium ingredients. Remember, keep labels clean and simple. I encourage use of clear packaging so that consumers can view what’s inside. Clean and clear go very well together.

Land O’Lakes, which in recent years acquired Kozy Shack, is working to build the brand and its purity. With taglines like “Real food. Real good. Simple ingredients in every spoonful,” “Count to six. That’s the number of ingredients in our rice pudding” and “Made with ingredients you know,” Kozy Shack is all about promoting milk’s goodness.

From the company’s website, I learned Kozy Shack is as young as me. Just like fine wine, we both will continue to improve with age. The company recently redesigned its flan packaging to give it a more updated look. The package invites consumers to indulge in this traditional, creamy custard topped with caramel sauce. It’s gluten free and made with natural ingredients. It’s also a good source of calcium. Nutritional value is always a perk in dessert, which is part of the beauty of dairy desserts.

Let’s look at some dairy dessert concepts from around the world.

In Australia, the Cole’s supermarket chain offers private-label pouring vanilla custard. It comes in different sizes, but in the same packaging—gable-top and blow-mold plastic—as its fresh milk.

Drinkable custards are quite common in Europe. Arla Foods’ Melkunie brand of drinkable custard recently welcomed a waffle syrup variant that contains inclusions designed to mimic waffle bits.

Custard also comes in cups...and with fruit. Pauls Custard & Fruit Snack Packs are made with fresh full cream milk and real fruit. Varieties include Strawberry, Exotic Fruit Salad and Apple & Rhubarb.

Here’s a different spin to rice pudding. It’s made with semolina (wheat). In France, the Le P’tit Gallo brand markets organic 4 Semoules Au Lait à la Vanille dairy dessert.

For more than 40 years, Danone has been marketing in select European markets a line of puddings with loosely-light icing under the Dany label. More recently, there’s the Dany Sahne line, which is a layered dessert consisting of two flavors of pudding. The first offering was Chocolate Vanilla in 2012. Soon after, Chocolate Hazelnut and White Chocolate Hazelnut were rolled out. Most recently joining the Dany Sahne family is Dany Sahne ToffeeKuss. It is pudding topped with two soft-melting toffee Islands.
ToffeeKuss come in Chocolate Toffee and Vanilla Toffee flavors.

Zott’s Monte brand debuted in April 1996 and at the time was described as a completely new kind of dessert. It still is quite unique. Under development for more than two years, Monte is a combination of fresh milk-cream, chocolate and hazelnuts. This past year the brand expanded with a new concept and additional flavors.

The new concept is Monte Plus. The plus is extra indulgence. The product starts with the original Monte combination and adds a layer of sauce. There are three varieties: Cappuccino, Caramel and Chocolate.

The company is growing its dual compartment concept. Monte Butter Biscuits and Monte Cappuccino Balls joins Monte Crunchy and Monte Cherry.

The Cadbury brand is growing its presence in the refrigerated dairy case. The Bubbles of Joy mousse line is serving up a limited-edition orange chocolate variety.

For something more entertaining, there’s Marvelous Mix-Ups, which is Cadbury dairy milk chocolate dessert with fruity jelly popping candy inclusions.

The opportunities are infinite in the dairy dessert category. Remember, keep formulations clean and simple.

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