Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sweet and Simple: Five Tips for Dairy Foods Innovation

On the heels of speaking multiple times at ProFood Tech last week and at the 106th annual Oregon Dairy Industries meeting this week, I am consolidating the innovation suggestions I shared into five sweet and simple tips.

1. Snackify your dairy products.
With consumers snacking multiple times a day, many forgoing traditional meals all together, it is paramount that snacks be formulated for different day parts. Yogurt does a decent job of positioning itself as a snack food by being available in single-serve cups, sometimes with enrichment for satiation and nutrition. Cheese is on board with snack size forms and single-serve packs. There are many opportunities to make milk and ice cream snack foods.

A new study by Amplify Snack Brands and the Center for Generational Kinetics suggests that Millennials are the driving force behind the growth of the better-for-you snack category. The research revealed that healthier snacks have become widely available across the country, break the income barrier and are being held to the same standards of universal taste appeal as their conventional products. The result, says Amplify, is that healthy is the new normal.

According to the report, which is available for download HERE, for decades, snacking meant choosing taste over health as nutritional packaged snacks were rare and ones that tasted appealing were even rarer. But that has changed in recent years as consumer demand for more snacking options has grown and Millennials have led the charge to take healthy snacking mainstream. Now, better-for-you packaged snacks are here—and here to stay--because they provide the perfect intersection of taste, nutrition and convenience. This is the perfect time for retailers to capitalize on this trend by offering the better-for-you snacking selection that consumers have come to expect.

According to the research, Millennials expect great taste: 78% describe better-for-you snacks as tasting the same or better than traditional packaged snacks.

Less is more: 64% of Millennials, more than any other generation, believe that fewer ingredients mean a snack is healthier. In addition, 79% said that understanding all the ingredients increases their level of trust in a packaged snack.

Social media is the messenger: More than any other generation, Millennials will try a better-for-you snack based solely on an online rating, review or social media post.

Motivated by the kids: Most (69%) of Millennial moms say their kids understand that some snacks are healthier than others and 55% say their kids are more likely to choose a better-for-you snack over another packaged snack.

“This study is such a fantastic example of how powerful the millennial generation can be for businesses,” says Jason Dorsey, millennial researcher. “Their passion for healthy eating helped to turn a niche snacking category into a thriving industry, and it’s only just the beginning. Millennial parents are instilling these values into their kids and setting the stage for the next generation of better-for-you snackers. For those seeking to attract and retain this influential customer segment, our national research sheds valuable insight into their behavior and how to make an impact.”

2. More is less, especially when it comes to added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Amplify’s research shows that there are certain ingredients Millennials absolutely feel should not be included in a snack in order for it to be considered better for you. The national study found that trans fats, added sugar and artificial sweeteners are considered the least tolerated better-for-you snack ingredients by Millennials.

The 2017 NMI (National Marketing Institute) Health & Wellness Trends Database shows that consumers are increasingly watching the sugar content of their diet. When asked if one typically watches their sugar content in the diet, in 2005, 49% of respondents completely or somewhat agreed. In 2016, that figure jumped to 57%.

The NMI research also showed that consumers are increasingly concerned about artificial sweeteners. An impressive 59% of respondents said they prefer products with real/cane sugar rather than artificial sweeteners.

The challenge here is to keep added sweeteners low while still delivering desirable sweet taste. Ingredient technology may assist.

In the February 13, 2017, issue of, Stonyfield discussed its efforts to bolster yogurt’s healthy image by reducing added sugars, targeting a goal to purchase 25% less of the ingredient as a company this year. The company is employing various technologies. To read more, link HERE.

3. Talk about the farm, the farmers and the cows.

That’s right. Please highlight the natural, simple, minimal process of milking a cow. Feel free to compare to milking a cashew or an almond.

Promised Land does a fabulous job of talking up its milk that comes exclusively from jersey cows.

4. Focus on the use of whole ingredients.

Just think about how much more powerful the statement “Yogurt with Blueberries” is than “Blueberry-flavored Yogurt.”

5. Celebrate dairy. 
That brings us to World Milk Day.

World Milk Day is June 1 

The United Nations declared in 2001 World Milk Day to take place every June 1. World Milk Day focuses on raising public awareness about the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet and as an agricultural product. It also aims to highlight the significance of the milk sector and milk producers, in particular, the one billion people around the world who derive their livelihoods from the dairy sector.

In 2016, World Milk Day was celebrated by more than 40 countries. Activities included holding marathons and family runs, milking demonstrations and farm visits, school-based activities, concerts, conferences and seminars, competitions and a range of events focusing on promoting the value of milk and illustrating the important role played by the dairy industry in the national economy.

The fact that many countries choose to do this on the same day lends additional importance to individual national celebrations and shows that milk is a global food and that it is part of all diets and cultures.

Whether milk is a breakfast drink that goes with your cereals or tea in the morning, or whether milk is paired with the children’s cookies, this year all of those involved with the dairy industry are invited to raise a glass to celebrate the benefits of milk for our lives.

This year’s campaign--Raise a Glass--aims to raise awareness on the multiple benefits of consuming milk. This universal gesture of celebration lies at the heart of all communities. As we raise a glass to milk, we connect with others and invite them to join the celebration that the goodness represents. It allows us to share the stories about all the goodness of milk and all the people who produce it. It offers a simple, natural way to recognize the people who matter most to us--in our communities, schools, and homes.

This year, the Global Dairy Platform (GDP) will be coordinating global celebrations on June 1, 2017. The GDP hopes all involved in the dairy industry will organize their own World Milk Day event, such events might include:

  • A meal featuring only dairy products
  • A school kid trip to visit a dairy farm
  • A photo contest to select the most photogenic dairy cow
  • Donation of dairy products to a food bank
  • A project with nutritionists to share the important nutritional facts about milk and dairy products
  • A video with dairy farmers working on a development project
  • A physical fitness event fueled by dairy
World Milk Day aims to celebrate the important contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.

For more information and to register your event, link HERE.

World Dairy Innovation Awards
Many dairy processors have introduced great new products this past year and I encourage you to enter the World Dairy Innovation Awards 2017. U.K.-based FoodBev Media has organized and presented this award for the past 11 years, and this year will be selecting winners in 19 different categories ranging from products, brands and catering to marketing, packaging and sustainability. All are designed to celebrate excellence and innovation across every category of the global dairy industry.

Every year, some of the biggest, most world-renowned brands and groundbreaking new start-ups enter the awards, highlighting their newest innovations on this global platform. The finalists and winners of the 2017 awards will be announced at a special gala dinner during the 11th Global Dairy Congress on the evening of June 7, 2016, in Dublin, Ireland.

In 2016, the World Dairy Innovation Awards attracted more than 220 entries from 27 countries.

This year, the closing date for entries is April 28, 2017. For more information and to enter, link HERE.

I am honored, once again, to be a judge. There are nine of us this year. To read about what we will be looking for when selecting winners, link HERE.

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