Friday, November 14, 2014

Opportunities with Functional Dairy Foods

Have you noticed how much the retail food and beverage landscape has changed in the past decade? In every department of the supermarket, better-for-you foods maintain a prominent position. Even chips, well known for being a concentrated source of fat and sodium, can now be found with better-for-you attributes such as “baked,” “lightly salted” and “whole grain.” 

The concept of functional foods, or those foods that provide benefits beyond basic nutrition, are now expected as an option by today’s consumers. Such foods are typically fortified with functional ingredients such as plant stanols and sterols, novel fibers, whey proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, green tea extract, botanicals and more.


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According to the 2013 Functional Foods Consumer Survey from the International Food Information Council, half of consumers think fortified foods are more worthwhile than non-fortified foods, while only one in 10 feel they are less worthwhile. Not surprisingly, consumers who are very concerned about not getting enough nutrients/healthful food components are more likely to think fortified foods are most often or always more worthwhile.

Source: International Food Information Council (IFIC), 2013 Functional Foods Consumer Survey

Nearly two-thirds of consumers trust that functional foods will provide health benefits and have confidence that they could make the necessary changes to integrate these foods into their diet.

Source: International Food Information Council (IFIC), 2013 Functional Foods Consumer Survey

What’s key with functional foods and beverages is science-backed claims and results. This is what you get with many of the functional ingredients being added to dairy foods, including calcium, fiber, and plant stanols and sterols.

To learn more about plant stanols and sterols, please link HERE to access a fact sheet from the International Food Information Council Foundation.


Targeting the aging population
Though there are dairy foods enhanced with functional ingredients for every segment of the population, market research firm Canadean believes there is a huge opportunity to develop products specifically for the aging population.

Consumers 55 years of age and older consume more than 20% of all dairy foods in the U.S., according to Canadean. Like with many foods used by today’s older consumers, they want more bang for their buck. Products that help defy the aging processing, physically and mentally, are very appealing to this demographic.

The human body requires an array of nutrients that it simply cannot produce enough of, and as one ages, this typically becomes a greater issue. Dietary supplements are an option, but research shows that an increasing number of consumers prefer to get their nutrition from foods.

Older consumers appreciate milk’s inherent calcium to support bone health and protein to prevent sarcopenia. And if they are already going to have a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt, marketers are wise to add additional nutrients to these dairy foods to appeal to this demographic.

Catherine O’Connor, senior analyst at Canadean cautions marketers to be sensitive in how they position products to the older population. Functional dairy food should carry both a preventative and therapeutic message to target healthy consumers and meet the needs of those already suffering from issues such as bone decay. “Manufacturers should communicate the health benefits of products by centering campaigns around keeping active and health maintenance, rather than focusing on older consumers’ vulnerabilities,” she says.

Canadean tracked the influence of 20 consumption motivators in the U.S. dairy market and found that 34.6% of yogurt and 32.0% of milk consumption volume was tied to the consumers’ age requirements. “Marketers should look at this as a good opportunity to focus on the older consumer by producing functional products that offer a health boost and cater specifically to the needs of an aging population,” says Joanne Hardman, analyst at Canadean.

According to the United Nations Population Division, the world’s older generation, those aged 60 and over, is expected to more than double, from 841 (11.7%) million people in 2013 to more than 2 billion (21.1%) in 2050. These numbers open doors to product innovation. More dairy products with age-specific benefits need to be on the market to encourage older consumers to reach for dairy products more frequently.

“It is all about the different approaches being taken by manufacturers,” says Erica Shaw, beverage analyst at Canadean. “On the one hand, across Western markets in particular, manufacturers are launching more products with active ingredients to address health and vitality issues, but similarly, companies are looking into the more practical aspects of growing older, such as being able to lift and carry the products without a difficulty and designing more convenient packaging.”

According to a 2012 Gallup study of nutrient knowledge and consumption, six in 10 U.S. adults consume specially formulated functional foods or beverages at least occasionally. Yogurt for digestive health and cereal for heart health are the most-consumed items, followed by cholesterol-lowering butter and margarine, cholesterol-lowering orange juice, shakes and bars for satiety, orange juice for joint health, immune-boosting dairy beverages and medicinal teas.

Without a doubt, beverages, often times dairy based because of milk’s premier proteins, are the fastest-growing sector in the functional foods market, with growth being driven by ease of use, lifestyle trends and advances in ingredient technology. Drinkable nutrition is convenient and quick, like supplements, but is more satisfying while also hydrating.

Whatever the format, functional foods and beverages must appeal to a consumer’s needs, with those needs changing through the lifecycle. This is why demographic-specific formulations are key. Functional nutrition is not a one-size fits all business.

Check out these recently introduced functional dairy foods.



Olympic Dairy Products in Canada is launching Olympic Chia Balkan-style yogurt. Sold in 500-gram multi-serving tubs, a 175-gram serving of the vanilla-flavored product contains one billion live probiotic cultures and 2 grams of the prebiotic inulin, both of which contribute to a healthy intestinal flora. The chia seeds provide additional protein and omega-3 fatty acids. A serving contains 170 calories, 4 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein.


The Benecol brand, most associated with cholesterol-lowering bread spreads, can be found on an array of dairy foods in different parts of the world.

In the U.K., there’s Benecol Plus shot-style yogurt drinks. Drinking one little bottle (67.5 grams) per day contains just the right amount of plant stanols proven to lower cholesterol. In addition to an Original and lower-calorie Light version, the drink comes in four flavors: Blueberry, Raspberry, Strawberry and Peach & Apricot.

The brand recently introduced the Benecol Plus brand. Benecol Plus Bone Health contains plant stanols along with a boost of added calcium and vitamin D, proven to support bone health. Benecol Plus Heart Vitamin B1 contains plant stanols and a boost of heart-healthy vitamin B1, which is proven to help heart function, as well as vitamin B6, B12, E and folic acid.



In Indonesia, Kalbe recently introduced Nutrive Benecol Smoothies, which boast the fact that they contain no added sugars. In additional to containing plant stanols, the smoothies are sweetened with isomaltulose, a fully, yet slowly digestible low-glycemic carbohydrate. Derived from sucrose of the sugar beet, isomaltulose provides balanced and prolonged energy, making it suitable for diabetics. It has about half the sweetening power of sucrose.



Dannon Light & Fit Protein Shake comes in four flavors: Banana, Mixed Berry, Strawberry and Vanilla. Sold in four packs of 10-fluid-ounce bottles, the nonfat yogurt drinks are enhanced with milk protein concentrate and polydextrose to provide 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, respectively, per bottle. Each bottle only contains 14 grams of sugar, including lactose, milk’s inherent sugar. Added sugars are kept low through the use of two high-intensity sweeteners: sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Added lactase also assists with keeping added sugars low, as the lactase enzyme breaks down lactose into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose, which are sweeter than lactose.



Cyclone Milk combines dairy proteins with creatine to assist consumers with strength and power goals. Marketed by MaxiNutrition, a division of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare in the U.K., patented-pending Cyclone Milk contains 3 grams of the purest form of creatine monohydrate and 30 grams of Max Pro high-quality protein in a convenient 330-milliliter format. The chocolate single-serve bottle contains 200 calories, while strawberry has 190.
Both varieties tout the fact that a serving delivers 7 grams of branched-chained amino acids, which have been shown to stimulate muscle synthesis.

Creatine is a non-essential dietary compound found naturally in foods such as meat and fish. It is also produced in small quantities in the body and stored in muscle cells where it is used to power high-intensity muscle contractions. The company includes creatine in this protein milk beverage to help support physical performance in successive bursts of short intense exercise. Although creatine is naturally present within the muscle, many factors such as age, gender, dietary intake and muscle type, may affect the total amount of creatine within the body, according to the company.


Cyclone Milk joins Protein Milk Recover with 30 grams of milk proteins per 330-milliliter serving and Protein Milk Extreme Recover with 50 grams of protein per 500- milliliter serving.
The shelf-stable milk beverages are made using skimmed milk and milk protein. Calories and carbohydrates are kept low by the sweetening power of sucralose.

In Brazil, Laticinios Bela Vista markets Piracanjuba Dieta+ Leite Desnatado Fonte de Fibra, which is skim milk enhanced with fiber. The aseptic UHT-product comes in 500-milliliter containers. A 200-milliliter serving provides 3 grams of fiber from inulin.


Cooperativa Agricola y Lechera de La Union Ltda, in Chile is introducing Colun Kids Yoghurt Squeeze in Grape, Strawberry and Strawberry Lemon flavors. The pouch yogurt, which is described as being whipped yogurt, is naturally sweetened with stevia and enhanced with DHA omega 3 fatty acids. Sold in six packs of 90 grams pouches, each pouch contains 56 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, 3.3 grams of protein and 32 milligrams of DHA.

Link HERE to watch a video promoting the launch of Kids Colun.

LoCol in the U.K., markets a namesake cholesterol-reducing processed cheese alternative. LoCol is manufactured the same way as traditional cheddar cheese using fresh cows milk and traditional farmhouse cheese making methods and recipes, according to the company. The only difference is that the butterfat in the milk is removed and replaced with wheat germ oil. LoCol is aged in the same manner as cheddar to develop a mature cheese flavor.




U.S. retailer Safeway is growing its O Organics dairy label with DHA omega-3-enhanced organic milk. The refrigerated product comes in half-gallon cartons in two varieties: whole and 2% reduced fat.



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