Thursday, April 6, 2017

Including Coffee and Tea in the Dairy Beverage Business

Photo source: Starbucks

Two of the “hottest” ready-to-drink beverage categories may be manufactured, packaged, distributed and merchandised in a manner similar to milk, presenting dairy processors with an opportunity to grow their beverage business. Both ready-to-drink coffee and tea are growing at unprecedented rates thanks to their better-for-you beverage halo, which includes being loaded with antioxidants and natural energy, along with, for some consumers, tasting great without the addition of any (or nominal) caloric sweetener. 

The better-for-you halo, along with rising disposable incomes, is expected to boost demand for these products, according to Grand View Research, San Francisco, which estimates the global ready-to-drink coffee and tea market will grow from $71.4 billion in 2015 to $116 billion by 2024. The demand for these drinks is high among millennials who are on the lookout for instant energy drinks, which the inherent caffeine in coffee beans and tea leaves provides.

Many dairy processors want a piece of the action. They are either offering straight coffee and tea beverages, or blending the coffee and tea with milk, producing lattes and similar beverages. Some of these beverages are getting a nutritional boost from protein or varied functional ingredients, adding a layer of value to differentiate in the crowded marketplace.

One of the trendiest concepts for the upcoming summer sipping months is cold-brew coffee, also known as cold press. This 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.

Millennials are driving the growth of cold-brew coffee, as they appreciate the smoother, less acidic taste of cold brew to its iced coffee counterpart, according to Shamrock Foods Company, which now offers Shamrock Farms Cold Brew Coffee & Milk in Mocha, Original and Vanilla varieties. This fresh dairy product uses cold water-steeped 100% Colombian beans and locally sourced milk free from artificial growth hormones. Each 12-ounce bottle contains double the amount of caffeine of a cup of coffee and is sweetened with a touch of cane sugar.

“Refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee is one of the fastest-growing beverage categories,” says Ann Ocaña, chief marketing officer for Shamrock. “Our research revealed the opportunity to pair the smooth taste of cold-brew coffee with our farm-fresh milk, creating a taste profile that is spot on for both the cold-brew fan and those just discovering the trend. We always have something new brewing for our milk and this time that can be taken literally. Coffee and milk has long been the perfect match, but we’re making it easier and tastier to enjoy them together.”

Nestle USA will soon be rolling out the Coffee-mate Natural Bliss collection of ready-to-drink coffee beverages. The line includes Natural Bliss Iced Coffee in Caramel flavor and Natural Bliss Cold Brew in Mocha and Sweet Cream flavors. The cold brew is made with 100% Arabica beans steeped for 12 hours in cold, filtered water. Both lines come in 46-ounce multi-serve clear plastic bottles and are perishable; thus, they are to be merchandised in the refrigerated dairy or juice case. All three variants are made with real milk and cream. An 8-ounce serving contains 120 to 140 calories, 2 to 3.5 grams of fat, 18 to 20 grams of sugar and 5 to 6 grams of protein.

Saugatuck, Mich.-based Uncommon Coffee Roasters has been serving cold-brew coffee for more than 10 years. In mid-2015, the company teamed up with Guernsey Farms Dairy, a nearby Michigan-based, family-owned company with more than 75 years of dairy expertise. The two companies now offer three ready-to-drink coffee beverages in 16-ounce gable-top cartons. The beverages made their debut at the end of last summer, and quickly gained traction throughout the Midwest.

Cold Brew Coffee Straight is a smooth-bodied drink with notes of roasted walnut, caramel and creamy chocolate. An 8-ounce serving contains a mere 3 calories. There’s also an option blended with half and half and another with chocolate milk. Either contain about 100 calories per 8-ounce serving.

Dunkin’ Brands, in partnership with Coca-Cola, is rolling out a line of shelf-stable Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beverages. Coca-Cola is producing the beverages according to Dunkin’ Donuts specifications, including using high-quality Arabica coffee blends. Coca-Cola’s extensive network of bottling partners sells and distributes the beverages, which are made with real milk and sugar, come in four varieties. They are: Espresso, French Vanilla, Mocha and Original. Each 3.7-ounce shelf-stable plastic bottle contains 290 calories.

Picnik, a café concept in the Austin, Texas, area, is now making its famous butter coffee a convenient, ready-to-go beverage. The flavor-focused beverage line comes in three varieties: Cappuccino, Dirty Chai and Mocha Latte. The beverages are based on fair-trade coffee, grass-fed butter, grass-fed whey protein and MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides).

The company says grass-fed butter fuels the body with a sustained, clean energy that satiates appetite and reduces cravings, while the grass-fed whey protein absorbs rapidly into the body to reduce hunger and sustain muscle growth. The MCT oil offers cognitive boost, supports fat burn and balances mood and hormone levels, while the coffee provides alertness.

A 10-ounce bottle of all varieties contains 10 grams of protein. Cappuccino has no added sugar and contains 210 calories, 17 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar. Dirty Chai and Mocha Latte are sweetened with maple syrup. Dirty Chai contains 300 calories, 17 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar. Mocha Latte contains 310 calories, 18 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar.

Sunniva is adding Super Coffee to its shelf-stable coffee beverage line up. Described as “focus for the mind, power for the body,” the beverage base is organic Colombian coffee, milk protein isolate and organic purified coconut oil.

The company says a 12-ounce bottle contains the caffeine equivalency of one cup of coffee; thus, providing energy. The lactose-free milk, grass-fed milk proteins contribute nourishment, while the coconut oil is all about focused energy. A bottle contains 90 to 120 calories, depending on variety, 4 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein. Varieties are: Black Brew, Dark Mocha, Hazelnut and Vanilla Bean.

New Cold Brew High Brew Coffee + Protein relies on low-fat milk and milk protein isolate to deliver 12 grams of protein per 8-ounce can.
The concept of cold brewing applies to tea, too. It is just starting to gain traction.

ITO EN is rolling out Ice-Steeped Cold Brew Teas under its matcha Love and Teas’ Tea Organic brands. Each beverage uses an authentic Japanese cold-brew processes, ice-steeping the tea to bring out the smooth, naturally mellow sweetness of green and black teas. The new teas will begin shipping to retailers in May.

“Consumer demand for cold-brew beverages is at an all-time high, and we believe the launch of our new matcha Love and Teas’ Tea Organic Cold Brew teas will help us establish a new segment in the ready-to-drink tea category,” says Rona Tison, senior vice president of ITO EN (North America) Inc. “Given ITO EN’s deep-rooted expertise in Japanese cold-brew methods called Mizudashi, we feel there’s an enormous opportunity for us to take the leadership role for this innovative set. We’ve elevated the simple essence of our tea leaves and created a more delicate taste with a smooth, clean finish.”

ITO EN’s new cold-brew creations provide an entirely new spin on conventional green and black teas. Ice-steeping the high-quality, premium tea leaves draws out a more nuanced, smooth taste that is refreshingly delicious. The matcha Love Cold Brew is crafted with whole leaf green tea, finely ground matcha powder and chilled water. Simply steeped to deliver a smooth, subtly sweet taste, matcha Love Cold Brew comes in two organic varieties: Matcha + Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Lemon Matcha + Green Tea. Teas’ Tea Organic Cold Brew comes in two varieties: Pure Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Raspberry Black Tea.

Several factors are driving the growing demand for tea in the U.S., most notably the fact that many consumers find tea can be delicious without the addition of sweetener. Tea leaves are also a source of bioactive chemicals. Tea is particularly rich in catechins, of which epigallocatechin gallate is the most abundant. Catechins and their derivatives have been shown to function as antioxidants and can improve numerous bodily functions, while at the same time assisting with heart health, preventing cancer and slowing the aging process.

This healthful halo is undoubtedly very attractive to many consumers, including millennials, who have additional preferences, as compared to mainstream consumers. Chicago-based Datassential found 63% of millennials (vs. 53% of tea drinkers) prefer flavored iced tea, but not from sugary syrups. Among tea drinkers, most (56%) prefer the flavor in the tea itself instead of from flavored syrup. Further, artisan, crafted iced tea is preferred by 54% millennials (vs. 42% of tea drinkers).

The ready-to-drink tea category is having the greatest growth in the overall U.S. tea market, growing about 4% and accounting for 45.7% of the tea market share in 2016, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation. Category volume exceeded 1.7 billion gallons in 2016.
Interestingly, the U.S. is seeing the beginnings of a market separation between high-quality and good quality ready-to-drink teas, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. This is influenced by the type of tea used in the beverage.

Starbuck’s Evolution Fresh brand is rolling out three new juice blends that combine cold-pressed juice with cold-brewed tea. Refreshing and hydrating Evolution Fresh Coolers come in three varieties. Blueberry Mint Cooler is light, refreshing blueberry juice mixed with a hint of watermelon and green tea. Raspberry Citrus Cooler combines the sweet tart of raspberry with a hint of watermelon and green tea. Tropical Hibiscus Cooler is pineapple juice and hibiscus tea with notes of watermelon and citrus.

All “real” tea is made from leaves of the same evergreen plant: Camellia sinensis. The leaves are simply processed differently to achieve varying flavor dimensions. 
Traditional black tea undergoes a full fermentation step after the leaves have been picked. This is not a microbial fermentation but rather a series of reactions caused by the natural enzymes in the tea leaf that produce thousands of natural compounds. Oolong tea undergoes a partial fermentation, while green and white tea has almost no fermentation.

The Maple Guild is rolling out a line of maple-sweetened iced teas. The 16-ounce glass bottles come in nine varieties. They are: Black Tea, Ginger, Ginger Pear, Green Tea, Lemon, Mint, Mixed Berry, Peach and Raspberry. These beverages join the maple syrup company’s enhanced maple waters.

Herbal teas are not real tea, as they are not derived from the C. sinensis plant. Within the tea industry, herbal teas are classified at tisanes.
Because tea plants are cultivated throughout the world, their environment and method of cultivation results in variations in flavor even with the same process. Interestingly, there are around 3,000 varieties of tea, but again, they all come from the same plant.

Matcha is another type of tea that is currently driving consumer demand as it has become a favorite among health conscious consumers and beverage drinkers. Matcha is an antioxidant-rich superfood known for its ability to boost memory, energy, alertness and mood.

Lifeway Foods is rolling out Ceremonial Matcha Organic Kefir. This new kefir variety is packed with protein—11 grams--and 30 milligrams of caffeine (from the addition of organic matcha green tea powder) per 8-ounce serving. The probiotic product is naturally gluten free, low in fat and 99% void of lactose.

It was great to see so many subscribers this past week in Chicago at ProFood Tech. If you missed my presentation on “Trends in Fluid Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages,” you can view it HERE.

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