Friday, October 14, 2016

Winning with Dairy, especially Cheese!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to visit Seoul, Korea, as a guest of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. I was invited to speak with food innovators about the opportunities in developing products using U.S. dairy ingredients, namely proteins and cheese.

At the U.S. Dairy Ingredient Outlook Seminar I emphasized these three points:
1.    Every member of the household wants to be recognized as unique, with products tailored to their distinct needs and desires.
2.    Millennials eat based on experiences rather than sustenance, but as they enter parenthood, nutrition becomes more important.
3.    Consumer’s increasing familiarity with dairy and dairy ingredients is contributing to growing household consumption of real foods.

Cheese can be designed to address all of these points.

To read more about the seminar, link HERE.

I learned that Koreans love cheese. In fact, Asians, in general, are quickly becoming very fond of all things cheese. (Korean school children also love taking photos with Americans. I enjoyed it, too!)

Koreans enjoy cheese on burgers and pizza; however, as an American, it was interesting to see their unique spin on cheese. I think there’s something for others to learn regarding opportunities in cheese.

Imagine my amazement when I was able to purchase grilled no-melt cheese on a skewer at a street market. A few stands down, cheese was being fried with potatoes and served as a plated meal. The emphasis was always on the cheese, with consumers embracing it as a protein, much like they would chicken kebabs or traditional barbecue.

There’s opportunity for cheese makers around the world to adapt to shifts in the consumer and market landscape by creating new forms, new flavors and even nutritionally superior products, which encourages new consumption occasions. For example, think about this: the health benefits of green tea and ginseng have been praised for generations for their holistic goodness. Why not pair these powerhouse ingredients with a mild-flavored cheese such as Monterey Jack to make a “relaxing, destressing” snack? The new cheese would naturally fuel the body, mind and soul.

Cheese is a powerful way to deliver essential nutrients. Why not add more good stuff? To watch a video about the opportunities, link HERE.

For long, many feared the fat content of cheese. Advancements in science now indicate that we no longer need to avoid cheese because of its fat component. In fact, milkfat, combined with the high protein content of cheese makes a very satiating food. Some studies suggest that satiating foods assist with weight loss and weight management. Who knew cheese may be a diet food?

A recent randomized control study concluded that high intake of regular-fat cheese compared with reduced-fat cheese does not affect LDL cholesterol or risk markers of the metabolic syndrome. To read more about this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, link HERE.

Here’s an innovative cheese product being produced in Japan using Australian cheddar and Gouda cheeses. Large blocks of these natural cheese are transported to Asia where they are processed, flavored and formed into snacking cubes and sold under the Kyubu brand. Flavors include Chocolate & Almond, Milky Cheddar, Nacho, Orange Yogurt and Strawberry.

The Japanese-style cheese snack cubes hit the shelves through a retail supermarket chain in Thailand in July and in Singapore in September. The flavors were designed to encourage trial in these Asian countries where cheese consumption is still in its infancy.

Take note. Asians eat less than 10% of the world’s cheese but their appetite is growing fast. The numbers tell the story. Cheese consumption in Asia rose from about 550,000 tons in 2000 to slightly more than a million tons in 2012. It is expected to reach 1.65 million tons by 2020.

Indeed, there’s an opportunity in Asia, but there’s also an opportunity in most countries to increase cheese consumption by offering new forms, new flavors and nutritionally superior products.

2016 Midwest Regional Collegiate Dairy Products Sensory Evaluation Contest
The 45th Midwest Regional Collegiate Dairy Products Sensory Evaluation Contest will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at the KraftHeinz Technical Center in Glenview, IL. The contest is jointly sponsored by the Chicago Dairy Technology Society, KraftHeinz Company, and the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest.

This contest is designed to test the sensory evaluation skills of dairy science and food science and students at universities around the U.S. The students work with their professors and advisors to learn the attributes and defects associated with six categories of dairy products. Those products are milk, ice cream, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, butter and yogurt. Every product has its own standard for flavor, body and texture, and mouthfeel. Each has its own list of specific defects. During the contest, industry experts rate the samples and assign a score based on a standardized rating system. The students then go through the contest evaluating the same samples. The winning score is the one that most closely matches the official card.

The Midwest Regional Collegiate Dairy Products Sensory Evaluation Judging contest is open to any university that has a Food Science or Dairy Science program. The teams are made up of junior and senior undergraduate students, with a separate division for graduate students.  These students go on to become the dairy and food professionals in our industry. The training they receive for this contest is a critical component of their food science education. It is a great experience. Many of the contest volunteers from the industry have participated as student contestants. 

Currently nine universities are registered to compete. They are: Clemson, Cornell, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota State, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

For more information, email HERE.

The national Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest will be held April 12, 2017, in association with the Wisconsin Cheesemakers meeting in Madison, WI. For more information, link HERE.

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