Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dairy Foods Trends: Going Clean in 2016. (And by the way…how about a united front in getting more people to consume their three servings of dairy a day?)

As a parent of two teenage boys, I experience (daily) a great deal of bickering and strong dislike, but honestly, never anything as bad as what went down this week in the yogurt world. Really?

At a time when most of the U.S. dairy industry is reveling in last week’s positive positioning of dairy in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, how could any player condemn a reputable dairy foods business? I won’t name names, because that’s not who I am.

(If you want to view the print ad I am referencing, you can link HERE. I cannot bring myself to include such malice in this blog. This ad ran in numerous Sunday papers, including the New York Times. Such a full-page color ad in the Sunday New York Times runs for $174,760. That’s a college education for both of my boys and a car for graduation.)

We need to stand as a united front to increase dairy foods consumption, in the States and abroad. It’s a global crisis, as the human body needs the nutrient density dairy foods deliver.

With that said, product developers going forward should continue to strive for simple, clean formulations. (In case you have not heard, clean label is the future of food.) If current products in the market are well received and meet a need, and if they are helping consumers get their three servings of a dairy a day, then so be it.

Those teenage boys of mine and their friends read food labels. Going forward, label reading will continue to impact their food choices and guide them in the direction to make smart choices. I can guarantee it won’t stop them from enjoying an orange Fanta and a bag of Doritos occasionally. Heck, I even enjoy the taste of Tab now and then.

Going clean in 2016 means making better-for-you choices when formulating dairy foods. Let’s not forget that sometimes the product requires certain ingredients to meet the demands of distribution, shelf life and affordability.

Going clean is doing the best job you can in developing nutrient-dense dairy foods.

This brings me to the good people at Stonyfield. I’ve long been a fan, almost as long as I have known Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of the company. When he and Samuel Kaymen joined forces in 1983, they were simply trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school. When they commercialized their yogurt production, it was not all organic, as demand for the yogurt exceeded supply of organic milk and other ingredients. Still, they focused on producing healthy, delicious food void of “unclean” ingredients.

Like anyone who became acquainted with Gary in the 90s, I quickly learned that part of his mission was to raise consumer awareness about the health- and wellness-benefits of consuming yogurt and other dairy foods. He wanted all processors to thrive and believed by making, promoting and selling the best dairy products possible, everyone was a winner. He celebrated everything dairy!

As you move forward with future innovations, focus on making clean-label choices. Invest in your business, so all players can benefit. No one benefits from name calling.


  1. Thanks Donna. Well stated...

    We are all facing a real food revolution where people are reassessing everything about what they eat, what the ingredients are, and where it all comes from. Some of their new food expectations are based on real science and others on emotional fads. But the reality remains... they want less processing, less chemicals, natural and cleaner ingredient lists that they understand, with more functionality and great taste. While it is a real challenge to give them all that they want, we must all try to comply with their expectations or risk losing relevance, loyal relationships and more volume. Providing what and how they want food is going to drive dairy volume.

    Another dairy volume driver is our ability to build relationships with people based on trust that we share their same values. A demonstration of shared values is providing them with these new food ingredient expectations. Every brand and product not only has to adjust product formulations, but has the right to show how they are different, better and special because people will choose their relationships based on that information. While we want the dairy ocean to rise, every brand needs to have its own unique relationship with the consumer.

    Thank you for your continued support of the dairy industry and for providing more focus to this very important issue.

    Steve Jones
    CEO, fairlife

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