Friday, January 9, 2015

Cultured Dairy Products—Trends 2015

Happy New Year!

Over the holidays I had the chance to read The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. In this New York Times-bestselling book, investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, who spent nine years researching the topic, upends the conventional wisdom about fats with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat--including saturated fat--is what leads to better health, wellness and fitness. Her research shows that natural fat is an essential part of a healthy diet.

This is something we have long known in the dairy industry. Not only is milkfat delicious and yes, nutritious (it’s a source of essential fatty acids, in particular conjugated linoleic acid), it’s also satiating, which means it ultimately helps one eat less and better manage their weight.

Interestingly, this week, Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based journalist and author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food, identified “The Rise of Fat” as the number-one (of six) food trends for 2015. He cites commentary from Kara Nielsen, culinary director of the Sterling-Rice Group, who believes 2015 could be known as the year Americans get over their fat phobia, specifically natural, animal-derived fats.

Supporting these opinions is the Time magazine cover story from this past June entitled “Eat Butter.” The article explained that a growing body of research shows carbs, sugars and processed foods are mainly to blame for obesity, diabetes and other weight-related diseases, not fats.

It’s no wonder that the two biggest trends right now in cultured dairy products are full-fat and lower-sugar, sometimes together. Right after, which should be no surprise, is protein.

1)    Full-Fat Goodness
It’s a hat trick when you get all three, which is the case with Noosa Finest Yoghurt, which recently began offering its two most popular flavors—Blueberry and Tart Cherry--in four packs of 4-ounce cups. Each 4-ounce cup contains 140 calories, 5.5 grams of fat, 14 grams of sugar (including milk’s inherent sugar) and 7 grams of protein. The convenient on-the-go cups join the 8- and 16-ounce containers.

Noosa, described as Aussie-style yogurt, is made using fresh Colorado milk. Inspired by rich, thick Greek yogurts, Noosa is made at the family-owned Morning Fresh Dairy in Bellvue, Colorado. Noosa partners with Colorado-based Beyond the Hive to lightly sweeten its yogurt with golden Clover Alfalfa honey.

Such Aussie-style yogurt will likely be copied soon, as one private-label yogurt manufacturer was showcasing its own formulation at the Private Label show this past November.

Here’s an interesting spin on fat in yogurt. Though it’s low-fat and not milkfat, the emphasis is on the fat content. Barcelona-based specialty food company Casa Ametller recently introduced Yoligur, which uses olive oil to replace the saturated fats of milk. The company says this makes for a healthier product, with packages carrying a “0% animal fat” claim. There are five varieties: Apple, Pear and Cinnamon; Figs and Thyme; Original; Persimmon and Peach; and Pomegranate and Orange.

2)    Lower Sugar
Cultured dairy product formulators have many technologies available to assist with lowering added sugars. To read more, link HERE.

Using stevia, in combination with other natural sweeteners, is definitely the trend, as marketers want to keep formulations as simple and clean as possible.

At the forefront of formulating no-sugar-added yogurt is Sophie Greek Yogurt. Introduced a few years ago, and fine-tuned this past year, this was the only no-sugar-added Greek yogurt in the marketplace until this past week. This nonfat yogurt relies on a combination of all-natural xylitol and stevia, which results in a product with only 5 grams of naturally occurring sugar (from the milk) in each 5.3-ounce container. Depending on variety, there’s either 15 or 16 grams of protein. Varieties are: Banana Cream Pie, Blueberry Cobbler, Caramel, Chocolate, Strawberry Cream, Vanilla and Plain with Fiber. The latter uses oligofructose to provide 2.5 grams of fiber per serving.

Yoplait is introducing Yogurt & Juice Nonfat Beverage, which is sweetened with sugar and fructose, as well as monkfruit juice extract and stevia. The latter two help keep calories and added sugars low. An 8-ounce serving contains 110 to 120 calories and 19 to 22 grams of carbohydrates. Thanks to the addition of milk protein concentrate, a serving also provides 6 grams of protein. There are four flavors: Berry Pomegranate, Pineapple Mango, Strawberry, and Strawberry Banana.

3)    The Power of Protein
Speaking of protein, dairy needs to own this, after all “Powerful Proteins Come from Milk.” Read more HERE.

Dannon is all over the power of protein. This fall the company rolled out Dannon Light & Fit Protein Shake, which 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. (More on this shortly.)

Just this week, Dannon introduced Oikos Triple Zero, a Greek yogurt with 15 grams of protein with zero added sugar, zero artificial sweeteners and zero fat. The product’s formulation, along with its marketing platform (the brand is the official yogurt of the National Football League), showcase Dannon’s continued efforts to engage a wider audience and expand its once predominantly female consumer base to include men.

Look for more information on this product this coming week as a featured Daily Dose of Dairy. But in a nutshell, by default, with fat at zero and no added sugars, protein content is increased. To sweeten the yogurt without adding sugar, the formulation relies on a variety of technologies, including stevia; chicory root fiber, which contributes sweetness while also delivering 6 grams of fiber per serving; and the lactase enzyme.

4)    Breaking Up Lactose
Yes, the lactase enzyme assists with sweetening, as well as breaking down lactose to make the yogurt more tummy friendly for those who are lactose intolerant.

To read more about “removing sugar while keeping the sweetness,” please link HERE to an article I recently wrote for Food Business News. It describes the science behind using lactase to assist with sweetening, as well as other sweetening tricks that are all ideal for cultured dairy product applications.

5)    Nothing Artificial
From sweetener selection, to flavors and colors, to stabilizing ingredients, dairy processors are wise to keep formulations as simple and as clean as possible. Proper culture selection can assist with removing label-unfriendly stabilizers from formulations.

Some brands are developing line extensions based on the simple and clean premise. For example, Kraft introduced a limited-edition Philadelphia cream cheese brick this holiday season that is crafted with only five ingredients. Special-Edition Baker’s Reserve Cream Cheese is made with pasteurized milk and cream, salt, carob bean gum and cheese culture. A 1-ounce serving contains 100 calories, 10 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein.

6)    The Pouch
WhiteWave Foods and Dannon are now both in the pouch yogurt business…but both with products once again targeting kids. This package is also an ideal format for high-protein cultured dairy snacks for on-the-go adults. There’s a great deal of opportunity for innovative products delivered via the pouch. Read “Appreciating Dairy Packaging; the Potential of the Pouch” HERE.

The new WhiteWave product is called Bonza and carries the trademarked tagline “one-handed” yogurt. The company filed for the trademark on June 9, 2014, and it was issued on December 23, 2014. What a nice Christmas present! There’s a lot of potential with the phrase and hopefully it will be used on yogurt products targeted to adults.

Bonza comes in 3.5-ounce pouches in four flavors: Blueberry, Orange, Strawberry and Watermelon. Each pouch contains 100 calories, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein. Whey protein concentrate provides an extra boost of protein.

Packages tout the fact that the yogurt contains no artificial flavors or colors, is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, and contains live and active cultures. The latter is something missing in shelf-stable pouch yogurts. Individual pouches sell for about $1.29.

Dannon’s pouch is marketed under its Danimals brand and is called Squeezables. The low-fat yogurt comes in 4-ounce pouches in packs of four. The flavors have whimsical names. They are: Banana Cream, Blueberry Pie, Strawberry Banana Split and Strawberry Milkshake.

Like all Danimals products, Squeezables tout the fact that they do not contain high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and flavors. They also contain live and active cultures and are a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Each 4-ounce pouch contains 100 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein.

7)    New Formats
Yogurt is being used as an ingredient in all types of foods, including other dairy products. Greek yogurt, in particularly, with its higher protein content and thicker viscosity, renders itself as an excellent base for desserts, dips, dressings and spreads.

A&M Gourmet Foods has developed a unique spreadable yogurt that can be sold refrigerated or frozen. Sold under its Authentic Menu brand, and also available for private label, the spreadable yogurts comes in four flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Maple, Strawberry and Triple Berry. Made with Greek yogurt, fruit is the number-one ingredient. The product is intended to be spread on top of bagels or used as a topping on crepes, French toast, pancakes and waffles. The unique formulation allows the product to be merchandised in the freezer, right next to frozen breakfast foods, or in the refrigerated dairy or bagel case.

Last year at this time, Karoun Dairies livened up the spreads category with Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads. Similar in consistency to cream cheese, the spreads come in five varieties: Blueberry, French Onion, Honey, Original and Spicy Vegetable. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 60 to 70 calories, depending on variety, and 6 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.  The spreads also contain probiotic cultures and are rich in calcium.

This coming week at the Winter Fancy Food Show, Karoun Dairies will introduce its new probiotic Blue Isle Yogurt Drink in Plain, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Strawberry.

General Mills will soon be rolling out Yoplait Greek 100 Whips. Aeration provides the yogurt with a lighter texture and mouthfeel as compared to Yoplait Greek 100. It also helps keep calories down, as air is calorie free. The nonnutritive sweeteners acesulfame potassium and sucralose also help keep calories down, as well as added sugars. Yoplait Greek 100 Whips come in the same 5.3-ounce container as Yoplait Greek 100, but the aeration yields a lighter product, weighing in at 4 ounces. Varieties are: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Lemon Meringue, Raspberry, Strawberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, Tropical and Vanilla Cupcake.

Stonyfield is now putting chia in its Greek yogurt. Greek and Chia comes in three varieties: Blood Orange, Blueberry and (mixed berry) Strawberry, Raspberry and Cranberry.

Why added chia? Well, it’s a source of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Each 5.3-ounce cup delivers 500 milligrams of ALA. Each single-serve cup also provides 130 to 140 calories, depending on variety, and 1 gram of fat and 12 grams of protein. The chia contributes 1 gram of fiber per serving.

This past year, Chobani introduced Greek Yogurt Oats, which bridges the breakfast gap between yogurt and oats. This new breakfast-focused product is a blend of creamy Greek yogurt, with 10 grams of protein, 8 grams of whole grain and 3 grams of fiber from gluten-free steel-cut oats and real fruit. A 5.3-ounce cup contains 160 calories and is loaded with all-natural, flavorful ingredients including real fruit and maple syrup. It comes in four varieties: Apple Cinnamon, Banana Maple, Blueberry and Cranberry.

8)    Ethnic Flavors
The Millennial consumer wants to try new foods and flavors and this is driving ethnic fusion foods. Anything is possible.

Innolact in Spain offers innovative cream cheese spreads. Marketed under the new premium Quescrem Sabores Espanoles brand, the Queso-Crème Con line comes in three ethnic flavors: Algas (seaweed), Chorizo and Aceitunas (olives).

The Dean’s Dips line recently got heated up with some new spicy options that are bound to appeal to the millennial consumer, one of the biggest users of boldly flavored condiments such as refrigerated dairy-based dips. The two new offerings are Sriracha Spicy Thai Chili and Buffalo Ranch.

In early December, it was reported that Taiwan’s National Quemoy University’s Department of Food Science developed a yogurt beverage made of black garlic and milk. The beverage contains a much higher antioxidant content that promotes the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, according to the university.

9)    Dessert Style
This year we can expect to see more cultured dairy products positioned as healthy dessert options. A recent introduction that is bound to drive this trend comes from the Oikos brand. New Oikos Chocolate On Top and Oikos Caramel On Top are a new format of the popular high-protein yogurt. Each 5.3-ounce cup is Greek yogurt topped with a dollop of smooth creamy chocolate or caramel. The chocolate varieties are Raspberry Truffle and Chocolate-Covered Strawberry and the caramel offerings are Bananas Foster and Caramel Macchiato. Even with the extra layer of indulgence, the dairy snacks still pack in the protein, with each single-serve container providing 10 grams. A serving also contains 210 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

German retailer Lidl now offers private-label Eridanous Greek-style Desserts, which start with a base of cream and yogurt, followed by a layer of fruit and liqueur (2%). There are three varieties: Dates and Orange Liqueur, Fig and Orange Liqueur, and Strawberries and Orange Liqueur. The single-serve chilled desserts come in 135-gram clear plastic containers. A serving contains 275 calories, 12 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein.

In the United Kingdom, Daffodil Foods now offers Luscious Layered Yogurts. These dessert-style yogurts are made with Welsh milk yogurt layered over fruity compote. Varieties are: Alphonso Mango & Passion Fruit, Fruity Raspberry, Senga Strawberry, Succulent Summer Berries, Timperley Rhubarb and Zesty Lemon. The yogurts do not contain any colorings, modified starches, glucose syrups, artificial sweeteners or artificial flavorings, so they are perfect as a healthier dessert option, according to the company. With a crystal clear unprinted pot, they look great on the dining room table. The pot allows consumers to see exactly what they are buying and eating.

France’s Marie Morin, a family-owned company specializing in dairy desserts, celebrated its 20th birthday this year. To commemorate, the company introduced a line of full-fat, dessert-style yogurts that are sold in 140-gram premium glass pots. The varieties are: Apricot, Blueberry, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Plain and Vanilla.

10)    Cottage Cheese---Really, the Time is Right
Cottage cheese has everything going for it in terms of composition. It is best tasting when it’s made with whole milk. It does not need to be sweetened. And it’s high in protein. What it needs is better marketing. Read more about the opportunities in cottage cheese HERE.

Once again, Happy New Year! Hope this blog provided some ideas for innovating.

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