Friday, May 15, 2015

Dairy Beverage Innovations: From Smoothies to Fermented Milks, Ideas to Keep Consumers Drinking Dairy

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) recently filed comments with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services requesting that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be issued later this year, encourage flexible eating patterns based on nutrient-dense foods, including dairy foods. Because dairy foods provide nutrients that are under-consumed by most Americans and are associated with numerous health benefits, IDFA called for the Dietary Guidelines to encourage Americans to eat or drink one more serving of dairy each day.

To read a summary of IDFA’s comments, link HERE.

To read IDFA’s complete comments, link HERE.

Despite the important nutritional contributions of dairy foods, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report submitted on February 19th stated that “more than 80% of the entire U.S. population does not meet the daily dairy intake recommendations.”

A key take-away in my eyes is that consumers need more dairy-based beverage choices, because let’s face it, they are not pouring more white milk. 

The fact is, although per capita consumption of fluid milk has been declining for more than 40 years, the use of dairy ingredients in all types of beverages continues to grow. This is in part due to dairy’s healthful halo, as many of the ingredients contribute protein and essential vitamins and minerals, most notably calcium.

I recently wrote a beverage formulating and trends article for Food Business News entitled “Beyond Milk: Dairy Ingredient Trends.” You can access it HERE.

Depending on the beverage and the production process, either fresh fluid dairy, such as milk and cream, or concentrated dry dairy ingredients may be used. There are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account when formulating and processing such beverages. For starters, almost always these products require some stabilization and texture modification, which is often achieved through the use of hydrocolloids.

To read an article I recently wrote for Food Business News entitled “Hydrocolloids: Managing Moisture and More” in dairy products, link HERE.

To watch a video about how gums can assist with stabilizing dairy based beverages, link HERE.

Here are 7 innovative dairy-based beverages designed to keep consumers drinking dairy.

The Borden Dairy Company delivers the taste of Mexico to the U.S. with new imported LaLa Frutas dairy and fruit beverages. The first offering arrived on retailers’ shelves this past March in Southern California. The products will be available to Texas consumers later this year.

“An estimated 10 million Hispanic individuals reside in Southern California, and they are interested in authentic Mexican brands with a genuine, made-in-Mexico taste. We are thrilled to bring some of Mexico’s most-loved LaLa products to our customers in the U.S. Whether they remember growing up with these brands or want to introduce them to their children, Borden is happy to deliver the true taste of Mexico,” says Jenica Oliver, senior director of brand marketing and innovation at Borden Dairy Company. “We have made it a top priority to keep formulations and packaging the same as in Mexico to ensure brand authenticity and nostalgia. It’s all about delivering the best of the best for those missing the tastes of home.”

The company cites Nielsen research stating that 50% of consumers don’t prefer plain milk. With LaLa Frutas, an innovative mix of acidified low-fat milk and fruit, adults and children can more easily get their daily dose of dairy. LaLa Frutas come in Mango and Strawberry flavors.

An 8-ounce serving contains 180 calories, 3 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. The drinks start with a base of cultured reduced-fat milk. Fruit puree stays in suspension through the innovative use of hydrocolloids. For more information, link HERE.

Valio, Finland’s largest dairy processor, has introduced what it describes as a softer- and milder-tasting kefir product to better suit the palate of the Finnish consumer. New Valio Kefir LGG comes in Natural, Peach and Raspberry varieties.

Kefir is traditionally made using kefir grains, which is a combination of live bacteria and yeast. To obtain a milder flavor but still maintain kefir’s characteristic effervescence, the company is using a proprietary strain of dairy cultures along with its probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. The beverage is being marketed as a drinkable snack. For more information, link HERE.

B’more Organic is a line of creamy Icelandic-style skyr smoothies loaded with protein and probiotics and naturally very low in sugar. They are also free from fat, lactose and GMOs and made with organic grass-fed cows milk. There are five flavors: Banana, CafĂ© Latte, Mango Banana, Vanilla and newly launched Strawberry.

Available in retail markets across the eastern U.S., the product line recently began distribution on the campus of the University of Maryland. B’more Organic is designed as a quick grab-and-go beverage for hectic lifestyles, especially long days on campus. For added motivation, the Caffe Latte variety provides 160 milligrams of caffeine.

“Particularly as summer arrives and the temperature heats up, consumers tend to indulge in creamy, cool treats,” says Andrew Buerger, founder of B’more Organic. “We are excited to meet this need by providing a uniquely rich and delicious beverage that is protein packed and free of added sugar.”

Organic stevia keeps the sugar content at 6 grams per 8-ounce serving. (Each bottle contains two servings.) A serving also delivers 23 grams of protein and 118 to 130 calories, depending on variety, For more information, link HERE.

In March, Starbucks Doubleshot Coffee & Protein Beverage debuted in three varieties: Coffee, Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean. Sold in sleek 11-fluid-ounce cans, the drinks start with a base of brewed Starbucks coffee to which four dairy ingredients are added (reduced-fat milk, skim milk, milk protein concentrate and calcium caseinate). This combo provides 20 grams of protein per can. Hydrocolloids keep the beverage smooth while monk fruit extract and chicory root fiber keep added sugars down. The latter also delivers 2 grams of fiber per serving.

For more information, link HERE.

Tea is the new coffee, or at least that’s the buzz in the beverage world. Hain Celestial now offers four on-trend flavors of ready-to-drink, shelf-stable Celestial Lattes. The flavors are described as being inspired by the “secret menus” at the world’s best coffeehouses. Made with 2% milk and sweetened with pure cane sugar, Celestial Lattes provide barista-quality beverages brimming with the goodness of real brewed tea.

The four varieties are:
  • Dirty Chai--lively masala chai spiked with bold espresso
  • The Godfather--authentic masala chai with bold espresso and rich cocoa
  • Matcha Green--a smooth blend of brewed green tea and traditional matcha
  • Mountain Chai--a traditional masala chai with ginger, cardamom and cloves
Consumer demand is growing for coffeehouse-style beverages that have the healthfulness of tea without sacrificing exciting new flavors, according to the company. Innovative tea lattes satisfy this demand and provide the convenience factor these consumers expect.
For more information, link HERE.

In Canada, the President’s Choice brand is debuting Coffee Yogurt Shots. Sold in packs of four 93-milliliter shots, this drink provides a better-for-you option to other energy shots in the marketplace. Sold refrigerated, the shots are made with 1.5% fat yogurt and coffee. There are two varieties: Caramel and Espresso. One shot contains 80 calories, 3 grams of protein, vitamins and minerals and the caffeine equivalent to 100 milliliters of brewed coffee.

For more information, link HERE.

Dairy ingredients are even making their way into energy drinks to help improve their healthfulness. Rockstar Inc., recently introduced non-carbonated Rockstar Energy Horchata Dairy Beverage. Made with whole milk and nonfat milk, the drink gets energized from the brand’s proprietary energy blend of caffeine, ginseng, guarana, inositol, L-carnitine and taurine.

For more information, link HERE.

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