Friday, June 27, 2014

Summertime is Ice Cream Time…How to Connect to Consumers with Flavors and Packaging

In mature ice cream marketplaces, competition for consumer loyalty is fierce. For example, in the U.S., nine out of 10 households already purchase frozen desserts, according to Packaged Facts’ Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts in the U.S.: Opportunities in Retail and Foodservice, 8th Edition. This presents manufacturers and foodservice operators the challenge of winning share within the existing consumer base rather than bringing additional consumers to the market. Further, whether a company is a global marketer or a local startup, side-by-side inside a retail freezer case they are on an equal footing for the shopper’s attention. What’s a marketer to do?

New brands and flavors, especially ones that connect with consumers on an emotional level by localizing, telling a story or using specialty ingredients, coupled with eye-catching graphics is definitely a growing trend.

“Growth in dollar sales generally is due to increased prices or from the introduction of new products that stimulate sales. Opportunities for growth are hard-won in this stable market,” David Sprinkle, director of market research at Packaged Facts told me earlier this week at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting + Food Expo. (The reason this blog is late to publish today is because I was delayed 48 hours in getting home. Read about my adventure at the end of this blog. It will make your week sound like a vacation.)

Sprinkle also said, “This is not to say that surprising new products are not welcomed, celebrated and, most importantly, rewarded with sales. The challenge is to find a way to impress frozen dessert consumers who have seen it all. A marketer must figure out what will make one’s brand stand out from the crowd, impressing frozen dessert consumers who have a multitude of choices.”
The new Packaged Facts report examines changes that have taken place over the past two years in the competitive environment while also providing a basic review of market dynamics. It examines market size and drivers, new product introductions, the competitive efforts of key players in both the retail and foodservice sectors, advertising and promotional activities, the use of social media and consumer trends.

It also identifies opportunities. “There would appear to be a lot of potential in products from the Hispanic tradition. The number of neverias, Mexican-style ice cream parlors, is increasing and they are finding a crossover following among non-Hispanic consumers,” said Sprinkle. “In addition, sales of Hispanic brands of frozen novelties through major retail outlets appear to be on the rise. If the foodies are discovering these products now, in the next year or so a broader consumer base could be right around the corner.”

For more information on this report, link HERE.

Years ago I authored this report for Packaged Facts. Today, I share my market research analysis with you via the Daily Dose of Dairy blog. Here are some great examples of companies connecting with consumers through product formulation and packaging. Marketers must remember that the packaging graphics are the first impression the consumer has of the product. It is imperative to make that impression a positive one.

Here’s a company doing just that! Al Gelato Inc., one of the original gelatorias in Chicagoland and long known for making gelato truffles, which are balls of gelato that are coated and rolled in a topping, has entered the packaged pint business. Just look at how these pints talk to the consumer. Though you cannot see product like you can in the many clear plastic gelato packages in the market, the bold graphics clearly illustrate what’s inside. Further, the “handmade” declaration and the reference to Chicago, personalize the product. Varieties are: Hazelnut, Italian Vanilla, Mint Chip, Pacific Mango, Raspberry with Raspberry Truffles and Sea Salt Pistachio.

Front Porch Carolina Churned Ice Cream has added two flavors to its Southern-inspired ice cream lineup: Charleston Sea Salt Caramel and Caroline’s Coffee & Caramel. These two new flavors, along with the rest of the Front Porch family, are available in pints in select grocers’ freezers and scooped at the classic ice cream parlor located next to the original creamery in downtown Mooresville, N.C. Front Porch is handcrafted using local milk from a nearby dairy and loaded with premium goodies. The piece of caramel on the carton looks so real you want to reach out and pop it in your mouth!

“These new additions fit perfectly with our other unique flavors and add to our story of Southern tradition in a way that people love,” says Michael Werran, production manager. The flavors debuted at the 2014 U.S. Open. As the Official Ice Cream of Pinehurst (golf resort), these and other Front Porch flavors will be available at the Pinehurst Resort for the remainder of the year. 

Boston’s local ice cream churner “Batch” was named a Finalist for Outstanding Dessert in the Specialty Food Association’s 2014 sofi Award competition. The flavor receiving the accolades was Brown Sugar Bourbon & Pecan Ice Cream.
A sofi is the top honor in the $88 billion U.S. specialty food industry. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation and represents the best of the best from members of the Specialty Food Association. The Brown Sugar Bourbon & Pecan Ice Cream was one of 109 Finalists selected by a national panel of specialty food professionals from 2,724 entries across 32 awards categories. Winners will be announced at a red-carpet ceremony June 30, at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. I’ll be cheering for you!

Batch crafts ultra-premium ice cream using the highest-quality, real ingredients, locally sourced and Fair Trade, whenever possible. “As the newest flavor in our line of ultra-premium ice creams, we are very excited that our Brown Sugar Bourbon & Pecan Ice Cream made it to the finals,” says Susie Parish, co-owner of Batch. “We use only real and recognizable ingredients and no strange additives to craft our ice cream. For this flavor, that meant selecting the finest Kentucky bourbon and finding just the right Georgia pecans to be custom roasted for us. It’s this combination of meticulously sourced ingredients and a delightful flavor combination that we hoped would impress the sofi award judges.”

Premium and personal can be found in private label. Regional supermarket extraordinaire Wegmans introduced two new superpremium ice cream flavors this season to appeal to American’s love for baseball and the great outdoors. Nutter Batter is vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cookie dough, caramel and peanut butter swirls.

S'mores is marshmallow-flavored ice cream with marshmallow swirls, graham swirls and milk chocolate flavored bits. Both packages use whimsical graphics to illustrate the goodies inside….not the private-label design many of us remember from just a decade ago.

Look for more marketers using “free from” call-outs on ice cream packaging. For example, the Breyers brand now offer 36 gluten-free frozen dessert varieties. After going through a gluten-free validation process, these Breyers varieties feature a gluten-free logo consistent with FDA’s rule on gluten-free labeling. Unilever is doing this without changing the recipes. 

The Breyers varieties sporting the logo include family favorites such as Breyers Natural Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, as well as certain Breyers Blasts! flavors, Cherry Vanilla, Butter Pecan and Fat-Free Chocolate and Strawberry. For the full list of Breyers gluten-free flavors, link HERE.

Nestle’s Häagen-Dazs brand is expanding its Gelato line as well as its Limited Edition line. “We have a very dedicated fan base that is always looking for ways to enhance the ice cream or gelato experience,” says Alex Placzek, brand director. “The response to our gelato line has been overwhelmingly positive and we are thrilled to offer fans a mix of new flavor options: some are innovative and modern while others are a tribute to Italian flavors that have been around for centuries.”

Expansions to the Häagen-Dazs Gelato line include: Caramelized Banana Chip, Pistachio, Pomegranate Swirl and Tiramisu. Tantalizing taste buds for only a short time, the Häagen-Dazs Limited Edition ice cream line expands to include: Banana Split Ice Cream (February - September), Midnight Cookies & Cream Ice Cream (February - December) and Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Bars (February - September).

Taking a different approach to catching the consumer’s attention, Hudsonville Ice Cream recently introduced three new “All Season” flavors to its lineup of ice cream. The All Season flavors are Hudsonville’s classic flavors that are available to enjoy all year long, while Limited Edition flavors change with the seasons around the Midwest and highlight the celebrations, freshest harvests and beautiful scenery of each changing season. The new All Season offerings are: SeaSide Caramel, All Natural Vanilla Bean and Vanilla Chocolate Twist.

Innovations Unlimited
Almost everyone loves ice cream, but not everyone can indulge in the richness. In response, creative marketers offer innovative options. This summer, LaLoo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream is using social media to encourage millions of ice cream fans across America to “Give Goat a Chance.” Compared to other top-selling cows milk ice creams, LaLoo’s Vanilla Snowflake has about half the calories, one-third the fat, is seven grams lower in sugar for folks watching their glycemic index and is easier to digest since goat milk is naturally lower in lactose and the fat particles are smaller in goat’s milk than in milk from cows.

Other LaLoo’s flavors are: Deep Chocolate (rich dark chocolate ganache made with volcanic black cocoa and raw bittersweet cacao), Rumplemint (organic garden mint--not peppermint--with a bold excess of dark chocolate tiles, slow churned for extra creaminess) and Capraccino (coffee ice cream made from real Italian espresso beans).

I really appreciate true innovation and that is what you get with Derinice Protein Rich Low Fat Ice Cream. The product was just named the Winner of the 2014 World Dairy Innovation Award for Best Dairy Dessert. Without a doubt, this product deserves such high accolades. Stay tuned to see this product featured this Tuesday as a Daily Dose of Dairy.

The Dannon Company recently expanded into the frozen aisle just in time for summer with the launch of Dannon Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt. This new product offering, available in six flavors, marks the brand’s first move into the frozen-for-home consumption category. Available nationwide in pint containers, the six flavors are: Black Cherry, Café Latte, Chocolate, Key Lime, Strawberry and Vanilla.

Getting Creative in Foodservice
There are many truly innovative flavor concepts debuting this summer in foodservice, primarily as soft-serve. For example, in anticipation of summer vacations and the desire to experience other cultures through food, TCBY now offers globally-inspired flavors for the TCBY World of Fro-Yo, which kicked off on May 22. Created for culinary explorers and adventurous taste buds, the four featured flavors are offered in TCBY stores across the United States and take America’s hearts and palates on an international journey.

Here are the four flavors and the limited time they will be offered. Indonesian Taro (May 22 - June 4) --like a relaxing day at the beach, the Taro offers a mellow and refreshing tropical flavor. Japanese Black Sesame (June 5 - June 18) -- black sesame offers a sweet, toasted-nut flavor to classic vanilla.

German Lebkuchen (June 19 - July 2) -- inspired by the famous German cookie, the Lebkuchen offers bold, warm spices and flavors of gingerbread and star anise. Brazilian Guanabana (July 3 - July 16) -- as fun to eat as it is to say, the guanabana is fruit that blends all the best flavors of pineapple, banana and papaya.

Loosely inspired by the global soccer tournament, TCBY World of Fro-Yo will end the campaign with a Brazilian flavor during the global soccer finals. Stay tune! This is definitely an exciting World Cup with lots to talk about.

Carvel just launched a new line of treats with Ferrero’s Nutella hazelnut spread, which is made from the combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa. It will be incorporated into four ice cream desserts served all summer at participating Carvel shoppes.

The company is introducing the line this Monday, June 30, and it will be available until September 30. Guests can choose from Hand-Scooped Chocolate Ice Cream layered with Nutella hazelnut spread and Carvel Crunchies and topped with Nutella; Soft-Serve Ice Cream made with Nutella hazelnut spread; Sundae Dasher with Banana (layers of soft-serve made with Nutella hazelnut spread and Carvel Crunchies topped with whipped cream and Nutella); and Sundae Dasher with Chocolate Crunchies (layers of soft-serve made with Nutella hazelnut spread and bananas topped with whipped cream and Nutella).

The final two products featured in today’s blog pays tribute to the upcoming Independence Day holiday in the United States. In honor, the Daily Dose of Dairy blog will not run next week, July 4th.
Three cheers for the Red, White & Blue, as Hudsonville Ice Cream introduces its latest Limited Edition seasonal flavor, just in time for National Ice Cream Month (July). Summer Celebration is an explosion of three flavors – swirls of creamy vanilla ice cream, raspberry sherbet and blueberry sherbet – blended in a patriotic color scheme that even Uncle Sam would be proud to savor.

“We are excited to release our newest summer Limited Edition flavor, and this one certainly pays tribute to the red, white and blue,” says Caryn Beatty, from Hudsonville Ice Cream. “Summer Celebration is the perfect treat to scoop up on those lazy summer days spent with family and friends, when it just seems like everything deserves to be celebrated.  A sweet mix of our Original Vanilla ice cream, with raspberry and blueberry sherbet, it is certain to be a hit with the whole family.”

Down south we find another ice cream leader celebrating these patriotic colors. Red, White & Blue Bell from Blue Bell is a colorful dessert featuring a strawberry ice cream loaded with strawberries, a creamy vanilla ice cream and a smooth blueberry ice cream combined with real blueberries packaged side by side in one carton.

“We started with three basic ice cream flavors, strawberry, vanilla and blueberry, packaged together,” says Paul Kruse, CEO and president. “But then we kicked it up a notch by blending refreshing strawberries and blueberries into the ice creams. That’s what really makes Red, White & Blue Bell so delicious.”

Not only is the side-by-side ice cream visually enticing, but the colorful carton is sure to grab the attention of shoppers as they make their way down the ice cream aisle. Each half-gallon and pint-sized container of Red, White & Blue Bell is adorned with eye-catching stars and stripes.

To my U.S. subscribers (about 80% of the 6,000-plus), have a safe and happy holiday!

And, if you are curious, here’s my IFT adventure. I arrived at the New Orleans airport early on Tuesday and was first on the wait list to get on a United 2:40pm flight to Chicago. I did not get on and needed to wait for my original 5:50pm flight, which after almost three hours of delays, was cancelled for mechanical reasons. The entire plane was IFTers returning home and we were told that there was nothing available on Wednesday…all three direct United flights to Chicago were overbooked. I was put on a 5:48am flight Thursday morning and given hotel vouchers for a dive airport hotel for two nights. On Wednesday night I received word that my Thursday morning flight was cancelled because of weather!!! While on the phone with United for more than an hour, eventually getting booked on another airline through Charlotte, I booked myself a 20-hour train ticket home. I eventually cancelled the train ticket and did get home thanks to the help of US Airways. Officials at IFT had already announced that the annual meeting would never be in New Orleans again because the expo is too large for the convention center. This is good, because I am not going back after my 48-hour effort to get home!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dairy Foods Inclusions that are Cause for Celebration

During the past six weeks I’ve attended nearly back-to-back finished food product trade shows, with the last one—FMI Connect—wrapping up this past week. As a food scientist, the best trade show for me starts this weekend in New Orleans. It’s the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo. It’s where food product development begins, as ingredient suppliers showcase their technologies through innovative prototypes. Ingredient technology trends from the show will be spotlighted in future Daily Dose of Dairy blogs.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo was one of the many finished food shows I attended. I often think of this one as an ingredient show, too, because so many of the sweets and snacks on display have potential as inclusions in dairy foods. There are also interesting ingredient combinations that have application in dairy foods. For example, as this year’s expo, broad food industry trends--including ancient grains, power foods, herbs and spices—were just as prevalent as a resurgence of classic favorites ranging from raisins to peanut butter to barbecue. All of these ingredient combos work in dairy.

“This year we see an interesting mix of new products that push flavor boundaries and introduce innovative ingredients, alongside new products that have returned to classic taste profiles and comforting ingredients,” said Alison Bodor, executive vice president of the National Confectioners Association, the host organization of the Sweets & Snacks Expo. “It’s an interesting balance, on the one hand you have Sriracha and on the other, peanut butter. There are products with kale or chia seeds, ingredients many Americans are just getting to know, and products with coconut or marshmallows, classic ingredients being taken to a whole new level.”

(Photo source: General Mills Inc.)

Oldies but goodies, with an innovative twist

Mars showed the confections industry that old favorites do not need to be boring…Neither do vanilla and chocolate ice cream, or cottage cheese, cream cheese, etc.
The company is rolling out new forms and sizes of many of its flagship brands. Mars Bites deliver big taste in small, bite-size pieces. This year, Mars adds three brands--Twix, 3 Musketeers and Milky Way Simply Caramel—to its popular Bites portfolio, joining Snickers and Milky Way. Convenient, unwrapped Bites give consumers the full-taste experience of their favorite candy bars in a smaller portion. They’re easy to share and the resealable pouch makes it possible to eat some now and save some for later. This reminds me of Nestle Dibs ice cream. There’s room for similar concepts in the freezer case.

Mars also showcased limited-edition M&M’S Brand Birthday Cake Chocolate Candies. This melt-in-your-mouth-not in-your-hand variety is milk chocolate infused with birthday cake flavor, one of the hottest flavor crazes on the market. Many ice cream manufacturers have jumped on this bandwagon, all with their own personal twist! How can you bring the celebration to your ice cream? Think bite-size frozen or refrigerated truffles using ice cream, soft cheese and more.

On a premium note, consumers can tantalize taste buds with Dove Whole Fruit Dipped In Dark Chocolate, a combination of real fruit dipped in silky smooth Dove Dark Chocolate. This decadent new item comes in blueberry, cherry and cranberry, three top-selling fruits. How can this concept be turned into a frozen dairy novelty?

Not to be outdone by its rival, The Hershey Company unveiled its share of innovations. The company’s knowledge-driven approach and consumer insights to drive product development is evident in Ice Breakers Cool Blasts Chews. The new product is a first-of-its-kind mint and gum duo, providing an icy cool blast of freshness in a quickly dissolving chew. This makes me think of surprising flavors and exploding taste sensations in frozen dairy as well as kids’ dairy desserts, maybe even yogurt.

Hershey’s Brookside Crunchy Clusters features clusters of crispy multigrain and soft fruit-flavored centers with sweetened cranberry bits, covered in smooth dark chocolate. What a great mix-in for a dual compartment cottage cheese!

 Source: Gelato World Tour

Expect the unexpected

The bakery specialists at Swiss Colony Retail Brands showcased Icee Cake Bites, which are both colorful and pumped with flavor. Three classic frozen drink flavors—blue raspberry, cherry and lemon--are available in the little desserts for the retail channel. Each layered cake reveals vibrant colors inside that match the flavor profile. Could such Icee flavors…or other popular candy and kids’ drink flavors…be turned into colorful sprinkles or edible glitter that adorns a hand-held ice cream treat? Think push-tube sherbet with brightly colored flavorful crystals or prills swirled throughout the different layers.

The Jelly Belly Candy Company is embracing the craft beer movement with the launch of the world’s first beer-flavored jelly bean, Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly beans. Hmm….combined with pretzel bits in a malt ice cream…salty caramel may have met its match!

On the salty side of snacks, bold and exotic flavors were the name of the game. As taste palates and demographics continue to shift, food manufacturers are increasingly adding more flavorful and exotic herbs and spices to a variety of products, including dairy foods.

Last year’s unexpected Sriracha shortage seems not to have had a lasting impact as food manufacturers continue to experiment with the red chili and garlic condiment. Similarly, Tabasco is popping up in a variety of products, often paired with chocolate. If the two can be teamed up together in a candy bar, why not in a flavorful inclusion intended for ice cream or even cottage cheese?
Other herbs and spices featured at the show included ginger, rosemary, wasabi, sage, sea salt and cracked pepper. All can become flavors of colorful fabricated inclusions.

Hammond’s Candies showed attendees that bold and adventurous is not limited to chips and crackers. The company added seven flavors to its Brittle Crisps line, giving the classic treat a fresh new edge. The new flavors include buttery Maple Walnut, imaginative Jalapeno & Lime Peanut Brittle, a sublime Sea Salt Caramel Drizzle Peanut Brittle and for the adventurous, truly spicy Cayenne and Cashew brittle. I brought a few samples home and tried them in ice cream and cottage cheese. They were unbelievably delicious!

A number of interesting gum products were unveiled at the show. Mondelez International transformed its popular Sour Patch super sour gummy candy line into a sugar-free kids gum line under the Stride brand. Concord Confections Inc., puts some sparkle in the chew with Fizzers, a line of fizzing bubble gum. Vidal Candies makes gum sporty with gumballs designed to look like soccer balls and baseballs.

These gums made me recall that horrific (sorry) original bubble gum ice cream from Baskin-Robbins that contained rainbow-colored mini pieces of real chewing gum. You really could store them in your mouth, much like a squirrel, and once the ice cream was done, chew and blow a bubble. (My first job was scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in 1982 for $2.20 an hour. Minimum wage was $3.35, but I was underage and appreciated the income….and the two free scoops I got after every shift!)

The fact is, kids love gum and candy. How can these fun new gum concepts be translated into an ice cream inclusion? (Photo source: Unilever)

So, if you are one of the fortunate to attend IFT this coming week…I know, New Orleans in June sounds so appealing…keep your eyes open for innovative inclusions that can put the “wow” back into your dairy foods. Talk with the suppliers. See how they can customize their bits and pieces to be your signature extra.
Here are some new products in the market that recently caught my eye. Note how these companies use inclusions to make their products stand out from the competition.

Baker, baker, bake me…some inclusions for ice cream

I don’t think I will ever recover from Ben & Jerry’s take a few years back on the Saturday Night Live (SNL) Schweddy Balls episode. The ice cream flavor featured Fair Trade vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum and was loaded with fudge-covered rum balls and milk chocolate malt balls. 

(Photo source: Revol)

Ben & Jerry’s is celebrating SNL humor once again with two new flavors. This time for scoop shops only. New Lazy Sunday is inspired by a rap song about the famous cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. The ice cream takes the song’s culinary cues with vanilla cake batter-flavored ice cream, yellow and chocolate cupcake pieces and a swirl of chocolate frosting.

Then there’s Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch, which is based on Kristen Wiig’s frantic, mischievous little girl character. The new flavor combines chocolate and sweet cream ice creams, with caramel clusters, fudge covered almonds and a marshmallow swirl.

Not SNL related, but just as new is Turtle Cheesecake. As the name suggests, it is cheesecake ice cream with pecans, fudge flakes and a caramel swirl.

There’s a lot to learn from the bakery category and a great deal can be translated to dairy, predominantly frozen desserts.

Friendly’s is showing us that the packaged sundae is much like the freshly scooped gelato, just with all the bits, pieces, candies and more that we love in ice cream.

The company recently introduced Red Velvet (red velvet frozen dairy dessert with red velvet cake pieces and cream cheese frosting swirl) and Nutty Caramel (vanilla frozen dairy dessert with sugar cone pieces covered with chocolate-flavored coating, chocolate-covered peanuts and caramel swirl) under its SundaeXtreme sub-brand.

Limited-edition sundae flavors include Turtle Sundae, which is vanilla frozen dairy dessert with chocolate-flavored caramel-filled candies, pecans and caramel swirl.

Doughnuts are the new cupcake and Target Corp., is right on track with its new Mini Doughnut Ice Cream sold under the private-label Market Pantry brand.

Other recent innovations from Target include Cinema Snack, which is popcorn-flavored ice cream swirled with sea salt caramel, fudge-covered potato chips and pretzels. It’s the big screen in a bowl.

There’s also Cake & Sprinkles, which is just what the name suggests.

Wells Enterprises, manufacturers of Yoplait frozen yogurt products, introduces Greek with Granola in blueberry and strawberry varieties. The product resembles a frozen “breakfast” yogurt novelty product that the company had offered a few years back under its Blue Bunny brand. The new Yoplait item is a frozen fruit-flavored yogurt center dipped in a yogurt-flavored coating containing granola clusters. 

(Photo source: General Mills Inc.)

Think beyond the freezer
One of the greatest opportunities for dairy processors in the U.S. is the under-developed category of refrigerated dairy desserts. (Sneak peek: Monday’s Daily Dose of Dairy will spotlight a new dessert concept from Dannon.) Inclusions play an important role in these convenient, premium refrigerated treats. Single-serve layered treats packaged in clear containers can convey all the goodies inside. The package is key to the concept.

(Photo source: Sensient Colors)

Dessert cheeses, spreadable cheeses and cheese tortas all rely on inclusions for flavors. I challenge product developers to think beyond traditional fruits and nuts and get creative with this category. (Sneak peak: keep your eyes open for a new range of cheese balls that will soon be featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy.)
And here’s the last goodie to share before I must start packing for IFT. Dean Foods is extending its popular TruMoo milk brand to the freezer. This is just a sneak peak. The product line will be featured this Tuesday as a Daily Dose of Dairy.

Here you see TruMoo S’more Bars, which is a frozen low-fat chocolate milk core with marshmallow-flavored low-fat ice cream surrounded by a chocolate-flavored shell with graham pieces. The product is really made with TruMoo Chocolate Milk!

See you in NOLA!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Milk Trends 2014: Flavors, Sweeteners and Other Innovations

The majority of students in Kindergarten to grade 12 cleared out their desk or locker this week, tossed their backpack in the garbage and started complaining of boredom. Ah, the lazy days of summer are here, or at least for the kids.

U.S. dairy processors are not on vacation, as they have a great deal on their plate, or in their glass, as they make sure their products will still be served in school meal programs as well as a la carte starting July 1, when new regulations on various nutrients and ingredients go into effect.  

Need additional information on the regulations, USDA offers many resources that can be accessed HERE.

For specific regulations regarding beverages, including milk, you can access a comprehensive article I recently wrote for Food Business News HERE.;109296217;n

There’s definitely lots of activity on the school menu front, but also in the retail sector. In fact, Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers attending the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo in New Orleans June 21 to 24 can expect to see many exhibitors showcasing milk and milk beverage prototypes using innovative flavors as well as calorie-free sweeteners.

For more information on IFT 2014, link HERE.

It’s imperative that milk processors get creative with their offerings in order for milk to be the chosen beverage. After all, the number of beverage options available to consumers is not decreasing. Why would one choose the boring white stuff when they can customize a self-dispensed beverage on the Coca-Cola Freestyle? This sleek, stylish proprietary fountain machine can dispense nearly 150 regular to no-calorie branded beverages, from waters to sports drinks to sodas, at the touch of a screen.

To read more about how flavors make milk yummy, link HERE.

In Barcelona, the manufacturer of Cacaolat, a high-quality cocoa milkshake whose secret formula has remained unchanged since 1933, recognized that many of its older, faithful consumers had cut back or stopped drinking Cacaolat all together for health reasons. To keep them customers, the company developed Cacaolat 0%, a chocolate milkshake without fat or added sugars. The lower-calorie beverage is sweetened by stevia and also now contains fiber. According to the company, Cacaolat 0% has the same amount and quality of cacao as Cacaolat original, and so it delivers on taste and texture. It also is gluten free, which appeals to a growing segment of the population.

In the U.S., Cow Wow Cereal Milk has made getting a full serving of dairy into diets simple, even for the pickiest drinkers. Now, instead of an ice-cold glass of plain old milk, children and adults alike can indulge in the unique flavors of milk that tastes like a bowl of cereal. While the beverage tastes like it could be a sinful dessert, it is actually a mom-approved healthy treat. The innovative dairy drink replicates the tastes of favorite cereals and infuses them into organic 1% milk. Cow Wow Cereal Milk is low fat, all natural, non-GMO, gluten free and kosher. And, it contains nine essential vitamins with only 6 grams of added cane sugar. This fun-flavored milk makes opting for a healthier alternative to soda and juices a no brainer.

Cow Wow originally debuted in two flavors--Fruity Trudy, and Chocolate Chip Cathy—with Cinny Minny recently joining the lineup. These concoctions are reminiscent of favorite childhood cereal flavors that resonate with kids as well as the kid in all of us. Cow Wow makes children feel like they’re getting away with something and mom happy to know that they’re not.
Cow Wow Cereal Milk comes packaged in 8.5-ounce single-serve aseptic cartons. For more information, link HERE.

In Canada, Agropur Dairy Cooperative’s Natrel brand has “tapped” into one of Eastern Canada’s favorite flavors: maple. New Natrel Maple Milk joins the company’s other premium flavored milks that contain nothing artificial. The natural maple flavor is made from real Canadian maple syrup. The milk can be enjoyed as is, but is also positioned as a way to add a layer of flavor in baking, cooking and specialty drinks.

Back in the States, by far, the most progressive flavored-milk innovator is Prairie Farms Dairy. Most recently the company introduced three flavored milks with a summer theme. Sold under the company’s Old Recipe sub-brand, these limited-edition flavors are the inaugural offerings in the Cupcake Classic series.

To read more about the company’s three limited-edition spring flavors, click HERE.

The cupcake theme was chosen because of the current popularity of birthday cake ice cream. The difference being that the cupcake theme does not risk limiting usage occasion as birthday cake might. The one super indulgent flavor is Chocolate Truffle Reduced-Fat Milk. The other two--Strawberry Banana Lowfat Milk and Very Vanilla Lowfat Milk--are lower-sugar offerings.

According to Warren Taylor at Snowville Creamery in Ohio (so happy to reconnect after many years), milk from grass-fed cows is a way to differentiate and add value to the otherwise boring white stuff. Milk from grass-grazed cows is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). These fatty acids are essential, vital nutrients for heart and brain function. Grass fed milk is also higher in beta-carotene and vitamins A and vitamin E.

Snowville Creamery offers an array of fresh milk and cultured products based on grass-fed cows milk. Interestingly, the company does not homogenize the milk in order to provide a product that is minimally processed. Without homogenization, the cream naturally rises to the top of the container. Consumers are instructed to simply shake and enjoy.

Here’s a product you won’t see at IFT but will be showing up at natural and specialty food stores in Southern California very soon. The product is Desert Farms Camel Milk and it is being embraced by health-conscious consumers, parents of autistic children and people with diabetes.

Containing only milk from U.S.-based camels and bottled entirely in America, Desert Farms Camel Milk is available in several distinct varieties: Raw Camel Milk, Raw Camel Milk (Frozen), Raw Camel Milk Kefir, Pasteurized Camel Milk, Raw Camel Milk Colostrum (1st) and Raw Camel Milk Colostrum (Regular). This is perhaps the most unusual and some believe long overdue addition to the fast-growing trend toward Middle Eastern cuisine in this country.

More expensive than cows milk, after all, there aren’t that many camels in the U.S., plus pregnancies last about 14 months, camel milk is considered richer, more filling and more easily digested than milk from other species or vegetarian milk substitutes.

Want to learn more about this new dairy case beverage, link HERE.

Hope to see many of you at IFT.;109296217;n

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fermented Dairy Foods: Three Trends to Follow

At last month’s IDFA Milk and Cultured Dairy Conference in Indianapolis, industry experts gathered to discuss the hottest trends in fermented dairy foods, which are also known as cultured milk products, and run the gamut of cottage cheese to sour cream to yogurt. What characterizes these products as fermented foods is the inclusion of lactic acid bacteria, which during the fermentation period lowers product pH. This increases shelf life and provides a distinct sour or acidic taste as well as thickened viscosity. These attributes vary by strain of culture.

Some such dairy foods bypass the inclusion of cultures through the addition of food-grade acid, which upon addition to milk, immediately drops the pH. These products are described as directly acidified, and in most countries, require such a call out on packaging.

At the IDFA meeting, Massachusetts-based HP Hood received the Most Innovative Cultured Dairy Product award for its new Cucumber Dill Cottage Cheese. Hood introduced this flavor in early April, which was the same time it also rolled out a Garden Vegetables variety. The two new flavors join two other savory options--Chive and Chive & Toasted Onion—and three fruit options: Pineapple, Pineapple & Cherry and Peaches. You can read more about the new flavors HERE.

“Hood has a history of bringing new, high-quality flavors to the cottage cheese category in New England,” said Sarah Barrow, HP Hood spokesperson. “This flavor, cucumber and dill, provides an opportunity to continue that history of innovation while adding unique, savory flavors to the category.”

Trend #1: This brings me to the first fermented dairy foods trend: Cottage Cheese. This curds and cream product is the original high-protein dairy food and is making a comeback as consumers embrace its versatility and nutrient density.

I’ve written about opportunities in cottage cheese a number of times. You can access these articles by linking on their titles below.

Contemporizing Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese: The Comeback Kid

A number of cottage cheese marketers have started aggressively marketing their products, offering consumers recipe ideas and serving suggestions. For example, earlier this week, New York State-based Friendship Dairies kicked off a campaign called Mix-Ins, which is a collection of recipes to make quick snacks and light meals.

Made with creative and delicious ingredient combinations, these culinary delights start with cottage cheese and suit every craving, purpose and fancy. With 16 grams of protein per half cup, Friendship 1% low fat cottage cheese has more protein per serving than Greek yogurt and, when blended with sweet and savory elements, its crave-worthy appeal is heightened.

Protein Packed Mix-Ins include high-protein nuts and seeds like almonds, hemp and sesame to enhance cottage cheese’s already powerful protein punch. A combination of dried apricots, crystallized ginger, hemp and pumpkin seeds in the Protein Power delivers an energizing boost to get one through the day. Maple Bacon includes candied bacon bits, pure maple syrup and flaky sea salt. Smoked salmon, chives, red onion and poppy seeds make an inspiring carb-free version of Lox and Bagels.

For those who prefer low-sugar, low glycemic-index foods, there’s Coconut Crunch, which is made with toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs and chopped cashews with a sprinkle of coconut sugar. Perfect Pearing features fresh pears, toasted walnuts, fresh mint and dried cranberries.

The Superfoods Trail Mix combination of dried mango with mixed berries as well as toasted almonds, hemp and sesame seeds is a nutritional powerhouse.
For those who prefer a mini-meal to carry them through the afternoon or evening, the Puttanesca features sundried tomatoes, capers and olives drizzled with olive oil. Crunchy Kale is packed with crushed spicy kale chips, fresh chopped apples and toasted almonds.

Everyone needs to splurge now and then so the indulgent Almond Delight features toasted almonds, shredded coconut, chopped dark chocolate and caramel sauce.

Recipes can be viewed HERE.

In Sweden, Arla offers mix-ins via a separate domed container, which also includes a spoon for the ultimate convenience in on-the-go consumption. Arla Keso comes in two varieties: Cottage Cheese with Cashew Nuts, Pineapple, Orange & Papaya and Cottage Cheese with Hazelnuts, Blueberries & Cranberries. The product has an 8% fat content and comes in a 150-gram single-serve container.

Though this product is not currently in the marketplace, a few years ago, U.K.’s private-label powerhouse Tesco offered a flavored cottage cheese concept that included a separate container for crackers. The Tesco Eat Live Enjoy line featured 170-gram packs in four varieties: Cracked Black Pepper Cottage Cheese & Multigrain Crackers; Natural Cottage Cheese with Cranberries, Apple & Pumpkin Seeds; Pineapple Cottage Cheese & Multigrain Crackers; and Sweet Chili Cottage Cheese & Water Crackers.

Back in the States, Kemps was the first, and so far the only, to market Greek cottage cheese. Kemps Greek Cottage Cheese comes in single-serve 5.7-ounce cups for on-the-go dining. Based on cultured skim milk, each single-serving contains an impressive 19 to 21 grams of protein thanks to the addition of whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate. A serving also contains a mere 2 grams of fat along with 130 to 180 calories, depending on variety. There are four varieties: Cucumber Dill, Peach, Pineapple and Plain.
For more information, click HERE.

Trend #2: That brings me to the second fermented dairy foods trend: Greek. Not just yogurt, but cottage cheese, cream cheese and even sour cream.

Lakeview Farms showcased its new Strawberry Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) meeting earlier this week in Denver. The company also co-packs the Friendly Farms All Natural Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip for private-label retailer Aldi that comes in two flavors: Strawberry and Vanilla Bean. For more information, link HERE.

Premium hummus and salsa manufacturer Zilks was also at IDDBA showing its five varieties of dairy-based refrigerated dips. The original Tzatziki, which entered the marketplace in 2012, got some kick at the beginning of 2014 with the introduction of Hatch Green Chili and Jalapeno varieties. The company also offers two Greek yogurt dips: Artichoke & Parmesan and French Onion. For more information, link HERE.

Kraft Foods combines full-fat sour cream with nonfat strained yogurt to makes its Breakstone’s Greek Style Sour Cream & Nonfat Yogurt, which is described as having sour cream taste with all the goodness of Greek yogurt. For more information, link HERE.

With all these Greek cultured products, in particular strained Greek yogurt, comes an abundance of acid whey. Compared to sweet whey, which is produced during natural cheesemaking, acid whey, as the name suggests, is very high in acid content. It contains a significant amount of lactose and is very high in minerals, in particular calcium. Most importantly, it is almost void of protein, which is what makes sweet whey so valuable. Thus, acid whey, as is, has little value…but is in abundance.

At the IDFA meeting, leading dairy processing researcher Dr. Karen Smith, who is with the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, provided insights into cutting-edge technology developments for unlocking the potential of yogurt’s acid whey to become a money-maker. She explained how acid whey permeate can be fractionated into value-added streams. For example, the lactose can be separated and hydrolyzed to produce a dairy-based sweetener that could go back into cultured products or other dairy foods.

Trend #3: That brings me to the third and final fermented dairy foods trend: Converting Lactose to Galactose and Glucose. In other words, making cultured dairy products lactose free in order to appeal to the growing number of consumers who have or believe they have an intolerance to lactose.

Lactose-free dairy foods are becoming more prevalent in Europe, as companies fight to keep consumers buying dairy instead of switching to dairy alternatives for the sole purpose of avoiding lactose. This is an opportunity for the global dairy industry.

The most common approach to removing lactose is to add the lactase enzyme to the milk prior to processing. The enzyme breaks the lactose down into its two constituent monomers galactose and glucose. There are two approaches to take with cultured dairy products. (See flow chart. Source: Chr. Hansen)

At the IDFA meeting, Chr. Hansen shared many success stories. See infographics.

The Lactaid milk brand does an excellent job of communicating to consumers that lactose-free milk has the same nutritional profile of regular milk. Watch a commercial HERE.

 Follow these three trends and you are primed for fermented dairy foods success.