Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dairy Foods Forecast 2017: Clean Process will be as Important as Clean Ingredient Legends

This is the fifth in a series of reports predicting dairy innovation rollouts in 2017. 

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and dairy foods marketers. This year the entire dairy foods supply chain is pumped up about the future. And this is thanks to all the dedicated people who work in every link, from farm to table.

Tired of hearing the term clean label? Well, it’s not going away. How a brand chooses to address the clean-label movement is very personal, as there’s no formal definition, yet many companies claim to be doing it.  

“In the 1980s and through much of the 1990s, consumers largely tried to avoid certain substances,
like fats or cholesterol, as they were thought to be harmful,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst, The NPD Group Inc., Port Washington, N.Y. “Around the turn of this century, consumers became more concerned with getting more ‘good’ substances, like whole grains or omega-3s, in their diets. Now, in addition to eating more better-for-you foods, new priorities are coming into focus for consumers, like eating foods in their pure form.”
That pure form is as much about ingredients as it is process. An informed consumer is a satisfied customer.

Moving forward, it may not be enough to be clean and simple. Consumers increasingly want full disclosure regarding food additives, including source and function, as well as how a product is made.

Think about Greek yogurt. This is something we missed when trying to figure out what made Greek yogurt such a game changer. Yes, it’s higher in protein. Yes, it tastes different. Yes, it has a different texture and mouthfeel than mainstream yogurt. And YES: authentically produced Greek yogurt is made using a more hands-on approach, a different process. Consumers were as fascinated about the product as the straining process. They likely imagined Greek dairymen standing around a strainer watching the product thicken for hours at a time.

This is not the original Chobani bicyclist love story, but it still supports the process theory. View the 30-second video HERE.

Now think cold-brew coffee. It’s the hottest trend in the ready-to-drink chilled beverage sector (pun intended). It’s as much about product as it is process, once again supporting the importance of communicating the process to consumers.

Cold-brew coffee, also known as cold press, is coffee brewed without heat. Cold brewing requires steeping beans in ambient- to cold-temperature water for a long period of time. The type of beans, the ratio of beans to water, the temperature of the water and the steeping time all impact the final product. Processors differentiate their product by manipulating these variables and communicate this to consumers. Consumers connect. It makes them feel special to imagine that a batch of beans was steeped almost a half day to make their beverage. It’s artisan. It’s craft. It’s about the process.
In 2017, commit to clean label and clean process. The two are the perfect marriage. And the dairy industry is well poised to be a leader in the clean food movement.

Mark your Calendar for ProFood Tech
There may not be any better place in early 2017 to learn about innovative processes to assist with creating a point of differentiation in the crowded marketplace than the inaugural ProFood Tech, which will be held April 4 to 6 in Chicago.

“Shifting consumer preferences for natural, healthy and earth-friendly brands place new demands on the manufacturing operations of food and beverage processors,” says Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development at PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “Companies must fine-tune product lines to accommodate new ingredients, implement alternatives to chemical preservatives and often build or modify lines for greater flexibility. Additionally, they must do it all while minimizing changeover times and learning curves for operators.”

For more information on ProFood Tech, where the Daily Dose of Dairy Live will take place all three days on the show floor, link HERE.

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