Friday, October 23, 2015

Anuga 2015 Report: Innovations in Frozen Desserts—Value-Added Formulations Make Their Mark

As I continue to recover from jet lag and miles and miles of expo walking at Anuga, which took place less than two weeks ago in Cologne, Germany—if I had worn a FitBit, it would have been throwing a party--I reflect on the many innovations that debuted at the show. Trend tracking involves time investment. Forecasting requires experience. I try to provide both to Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers by going to the expositions and experiencing the movers and shakers firsthand.

My first Anuga was 10 years ago, making this my sixth, as it is a biennial event. Being the world’s largest food exhibition, Anuga is where you find tomorrow’s hottest new products. This year’s installment was, by far, the most dynamic in my attendance history. This is especially true in the frozen desserts sector.

Product concepts formerly considered niche—most notably lactose free, nutrient fortified and vegan--have gone mainstream. At the same time, premium products are becoming even more premium, which means upscale packaging and higher-quality ingredients. This translates to less being more, or smaller portion sizes at a higher price.;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=27703&AffiliateData=Beneo-Registration&

To watch a brief video on what Anuga is all about, link HERE.

Here are a dozen innovations that caught my eye.

For starters, I admit being surprised by the lactose-free ice cream trend, which I was told has become quite notable in Spain. In fact, Somosierra of Spain received a Taste 15 award for its Royne Triple Sin Ice Cream Bars, with “triple sin” translating to triple free: free of lactose, free of sugar and free of gluten.  

Taste 15 is an accolade bestowed upon the best new products debuting at Anuga. This year, more than 830 companies applied to have their over 2,000 ideas included in the competition. In total, the jury selected 61 products and concepts that convinced in terms of idea, innovative power and creative implementation.

Lactose-free dairy products have been increasing in popularity, but the ice cream focus is a bit surprising, as ice cream has long been considered a discretionary food, a treat. It appears that ice cream is becoming more common in the daily diet thanks to Millennials’ desire for deliciousness. This means the time might be right for value-added ice cream, as Millennials appreciate getting the most bang for the buck. That buck could be a big buck…they will pay for what they value. 

When it comes to lactose intolerance, real or perceived, a growing number of consumers around the world claim to be lactose intolerant, and subsequently, avoid dairy because of milk’s inherent sugar known as lactose. For the most part, “lactose intolerance” symptoms occur when the load of lactose is very large and rapidly arrives in the large intestine of consumers who do not possess sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase. That’s when lactose can overwhelm the system. If small amounts of lactose slowly arrive, the microflora in the gut digests the lactose at an even rate and no or minimal discomfort is experienced by those individuals who truly have lactose intolerance, a.k.a., do not produce the lactase enzyme.

Research shows that consumers with “real” lactose intolerance can actually tolerate small doses of fluid milk (the dairy product that’s the most concentrated source of lactose) throughout the day. Further, there are many dairy products that contain so little lactose that they should not be an issue.

For example, many natural cheeses--the more aged the cheese, the less lactose--contain less than 0.1 grams of lactose per serving, with sugars reported as zero on nutrition labels. Most fermented dairy products—kefir, sour cream and yogurt—also contain very low levels, if any, of lactose, yet seldom is this information relayed to consumers who want to enjoy dairy products but intentionally avoid them because they fear the repercussions of consuming lactose.

This is why there’s a booming market for all types of dairy foods labeled as lactose free. Lactose is either removed from milk via ultrafiltration or it is broken down into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. Interestingly, the latter are both sweeter than lactose, which makes lactase enzyme technology a clean-label tool to assist with reducing added sugars to sweetened dairy foods.

The largest player in the lactose-free dairy segment is Germany’s OBM Omita BodenseeMilch GmbH, which continues to grow its very popular MinusL line of lactose-free dairy foods. New products this year include Greek yogurt and flavored rice puddings in cinnamon and classic varieties. Other new lactose-free dairy products from MinusL have a premium positioning. They are a 15% milkfat cooking cream and a 9% milkfat plain yogurt.

Earlier this year, the company introduced a line of lactose-free ice creams. There are three 500-milliliter containers of Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla ice creams. There’s also two lactose-free frozen novelties: Dark Chocolate Coated Vanilla Ice Cream on a Stick and Vanilla Ice Cream Filled Cone with Dark Chocolate and Sugared Hazelnut Topping.

The company’s extensive range of lactose-free products includes everything from milk to cheese. Many of its products are used by other food manufacturers to attract the lactose-avoiding consumer. For example, there are frozen pizzas in the market flagged as being made with MinusL cheese.

At Anuga, I spent a considerable amount of time talking with the folks at Casty, also of Spain. The company is finding great success with its lactose-free frozen novelties, which come in cones and sandwich form. The products are marketed as being 100% digestible and 100% delicious.

Casty showcased an impressive array of other frozen dessert innovations, including Helado Premium, which comes in flavors such as Vanilla with Macadamia Nuts and Dulce de Leche. Mini Jets are sherbet stick novelties that come with a dipping cup of popping sour candies. 
Just Ice of Belgium debuted this stevia-sweetened ice cream a few years ago in Belgium and Norway and is growing its international distribution. Ice Crime comes in four flavors: Chocolate, Mocha, Strawberry and Vanilla. The product is said to contain 30% to 40% fewer calories than regular ice cream.

It comes packaged in 1-liter tubs and 120-milliliter single-serve containers, with containers carrying the tagline: “wow, they killed the sugar.”

Slovakia’s Acaimania is all about products made with acai, “the power of the rainforest.” The company now makes this superfruit available in probiotic-rich frozen yogurt. The frozen yogurt also comes in a natural variety, as well as Mango and Wild Berries.

From The Netherlands comes Koupe, which is described as an alternative to ice cream. This dairy-based frozen dessert made its market debut at Anuga and comes in four flavors, all with their own tagline. Banana is a “brilliant” alternative to ice cream. Chocolate is “clever.” Strawberry is “smart” while Vanilla is “victorious.”

The product is high in protein and fiber, while also lower in fat, added sugars and calories, as compared to traditional ice cream. The single-serve 65-gram cups assist with portion control. As the company states: All the goodness, no guilt.

Alvestaglass AB of Sweden markets Lohilo Double Protein Ice Cream and Lohilo High Protein Frozen Yogurt. Sold in unique 175-gram cup-cartons, the product has been in the Sweden marketplace for about a year and is ready for international expansion. You can view a video on the product HERE.

Each single-serve cup contains a minimum of 22 grams of protein from a unique combination of added whey and casein proteins. It contains less than 1% lactose and is naturally low in sugar. Varieties include Banana Split, Caramel Chocolate Swirl, Classic Vanilla, Creamy Coconut, Double Chocolate and Mango Passion Strawberry.

Germany’s Pure Foods uses a similar cup-carton package for its Lycka-branded organic frozen desserts. Lycka Frozen Yogurt was introduced at the beginning of the year. It comes in four flavors—Lemon, Mango, Strawberry and Vanilla—in two pack sizes: 210 and 550 milliliters.
Debuting at Anuga was a vegan froyo line. Made using sustainably sourced soy, naturally lactose-free Lycka Vegan Froyo comes in three flavors: Blueberry, Chocolate and Strawberry.

To read more about vegetarian and vegan dairy alternatives that debuted at Anuga, link HERE to an article I wrote earlier this week for Food Business News.

At Anuga, vegan and vegetarian options were plentiful in every food category. Many innovations targeted the growing out-of-home and on-the-go consumer. Most marketers of vegan and vegetarian products emphasized that their target consumer is not necessarily vegan or vegetarian, rather it’s the consumer who for personal reasons chooses to avoid animal-derived products on a regular basis, also commonly referred to as a flexitarian.

The term flexitarian comes from a combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” Following a flexitarian diet simply means eating more plant-based meals and less meat. This is often done for nutritional reasons, such as trying to reduce consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. Other times it is to assist with improving animal welfare and reducing carbon footprint.

Righi Sri of Italy received a Taste 15 award for its Gelato Di Verdura, which translates to Vegetable-Based Ice Cream. This vegan frozen dessert comes in two-packs of 50-gram single-serve containers. Varieties are: Carrot and Lemon Sauce, Pumpkin and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce and Tomato and Strawberry Sauce.
Indulgence is still the name of the game in frozen desserts. Regardless if the product is formulated to be better-for-you or not, if it is not delicious, it will not be repurchased. Some manufacturers choose to focus on conveying the deliciousness of the product. This is increasingly being done through the use of clear—plastic or glass—single-serve packaging.

Germany’s Gelato Classico debuted this layered treat of premium bourbon vanilla ice cream on the bottom of the glass container with a layer of fruit on top.

Italy’s Bon Dolce has a new premium frozen yogurt ice cream parfait available in either plastic or glass containers. The dairy component is a blend of half premium yogurt made from milk from the Italian Alps (Sudtirol) and half premium ice cream mix. The fruit layers—either apricot or cherry--contain 70% of the name fruit. The bottom crunchy layer is crunchy cookie granules. The guilt-free indulgent product is targeted to females in the 25 to 55-year old range. It is made without artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives and is positioned as a premium, healthful and pleasurable product. (This product is calling my name!)

Mark your calendar and plan early for the next Anuga, which will take place October 7 to 11, 2017, in Cologne, Germany. For more information, link HERE.;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=27703&AffiliateData=Beneo-Registration&

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