Friday, November 20, 2015

Clean Label Is the Buzz in Food Biz News This Week; Why Salmon and Beef Should Inspire You to Clean Up Your Dairy Foods’ Labels

How much do Americans really care about what goes into their food? Instantly polled more than 4,200 consumers about their feelings on artificial ingredients, all-natural alternatives and the companies that make consumer packaged goods. Check out the infographic to see the findings.

Highlights from the survey include:
  • 72% of consumers consult labels before making a purchase.
  • 75% say removing artificial ingredients would make them more likely to purchase a product.
  • 75% of consumers trust smaller companies more when it comes to all-natural products.

Without a doubt, the clean-eating movement is driving product developers to a back-to-basics approach to sourcing ingredients and formulating new products. Innova Market Insights’ recent release of its Top-10 Trends for 2016 has been all over food business news this week, so I won’t get into too much detail here. But in a nut shell, new global products tracked with an “organic” claim have risen from 6.3% in the first half of 2013 to 9.5% in the first half of 2015. A surge in “free from” launches and “flexitarian” options has also been reported.

Innova will be conducting a live webinar on the Top-10 Trends for 2016 on November 24. For more information and to register for this free event, link HERE.

Interest in a return to food processing the natural or old-fashioned way, along with a search for permissible indulgence and the re-establishment of links to “real” food is growing stronger. Clear label established itself as a key trend in 2015, with greater transparency and the focus on simpler products with fewer artificial additives taking clean label to the next level. The biggest surge in new product development has been reported in organic products, indicating that this will be a key platform going forward in the short term, although the challenges involved may result in more beneficial platforms for clear label in the longer term.

The organic movement has always been strong in dairy, in particular in fluid milk, albeit still a relatively small piece of the pie. Organic milk represents only about 5% share of all retail fluid milk sales.

Some recent regulatory rulings and queries will likely drive consumer demand for organic foods. Of course, a completely organic food supply chain is not possible…or at least not in this lifetime.

Here’s what’s going on. Based on sound science and a comprehensive review, FDA is taking several important steps regarding food from genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals, including the first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon. The agency has also issued guidance for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from GE or non-GE sources.

First the salmon…it is an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. It is the first genetically engineered food animal approved for sale in the U.S. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables have been sold for more than 20 years.

Interestingly, the salmon is not legally required to be labeled as genetically engineered, as there is no material difference when compared to conventionally farmed salmon. The way for consumers adverse to GE foods to avoid this salmon is to purchase organic salmon or salmon labeled as non-GMO. For more information, link HERE.

Why does this matter to dairy processors? Because consumers are only going to become increasingly more discerning when foods like this enter the marketplace. Dairy processors need to be transparent and communicate to consumers a product’s naturalness.

That brings me to beef. This week I had the opportunity to sample a new beef line. Chicago-based PRE Brands is delivering what it describes as a superior beef experience with the launch of PRE 100% Grass Fed Beef. The new line of steak and ground beef options focuses on taste, tenderness and juiciness. Starting at the farm and ending with 100% clear packaging, the company is always transparent.

The company only sources beef from producers that do not use added antibiotics, added hormones or feedlots. It follows a meticulous selection process, measuring every aspect of the cuts, from marbling to color. The process includes only sourcing from regions recognized as being the best environments possible for raising cattle, as well as from ranchers who ensure proper and ethical health and wellness standards.

Other considerations include age, breed and weight of the animal, as well as fat color, an indicator of 100% grass fed beef. The company communicates this to the consumer on the package, which again, as mentioned, is 100% clear. The product does not sport a certified organic seal, but I think the package says so much more. (And by the way, it’s some of the best beef I have ever tasted.)
For more information, link HERE.

When it comes to milk and flavored milk, consumers expect these powerhouse beverages to be as close to what Mother Nature intended as possible. This includes, for flavored milks, choice of flavor, color, stabilizer and sweetener.

Wholesomeness is clearly communicated by The Farmer’s Cow of Connecticut, which to celebrate its 10th anniversary recently rolled out a new limited-edition product: Holiday Egg Nog. The all-natural egg nog is made with cream, Grade A milk and real egg yolks mixed with cane sugar. It is elegantly packaged in a 32-ounce glass bottle that is perfect for serving on holiday tables or giving as a hostess gift.

Clearly, this product is clean and simple. Happy Holidays!

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