Thursday, June 22, 2017

From Fancy Food to IFT: Dairy foods will be in the spotlight this coming week

The Big Apple on Saturday and Sunday, then Vegas Monday through Thursday, that’s my schedule for the next week. I hope to see many Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers at either the Summer Fancy Food Show or IFT, or both, if you are adventurous, a.k.a, insane, like me.

Like with any exposition, in the weeks leading up to the event, editors get inundated with press releases announcing new products. This is true for both finished products at Fancy Food and ingredients at IFT. Having the two shows overlap has been helpful with confirming some real opportunities for dairy foods companies. 

Here are five themes that will dominate the Fancy Food show. IFT exhibitors will be demonstrating ingredient technologies to assist with your on-trend innovation efforts to complement these themes.


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1. Provide a sensory experience. This is in terms of both flavor adventure and texture.
I just finished writing an article on managing the texture of dairy foods for Food Business News. Every ingredient supplier interviewed said the same thing: texture targets must be identified early in the product development process and formulations designed to meet those targets. That’s because in many dairy products, texture can change over shelf life. These changes are usually not viewed favorably by consumers.

Today’s consumers want to explore texture and they want to know upfront what to expect in a product. New products—not just dairy, but everything from chips to beverages—are making texture a selling point. Ingredient technology assists with developing unique textures and maintaining them until consumption.

2. Highlight clean and simple. These descriptors are being used to describe finished products, the ingredients that go into the products and even the process used to make them. In a growing number of instances, even packaging gets addressed.

IFT exhibitors will be showcasing their ingredient technology solutions for clean and simple formulating. Find out more, such as if the sourcing of the ingredient has an interesting story. Communicate this sourcing to consumers via packaging and social media. Explore ingredients that serve multiple functions, which in turn enabler simpler ingredient statements.


3. Talk about the sweetener. A growing number of products are using language such as “slightly sweetened with cane sugar” or “naturally sweetened by stevia.” Products are also starting to declare added sugars.

Just because the FDA extended its compliance date for the revised Nutrition Facts label does not mean that you need to wait if you can comply sooner. Label-reading consumers are looking for this information and it’s a way to differentiate and stand out in the marketplace.
IFT exhibitors will be showcasing their tool box of sweetening solutions. Many offer technologies that are clean, and simply allow for a reduction in added sugars.

4. Premiumize the product. Fancy foods, as the name suggests are fanciful, or special. Such specialty foods are becoming a larger, more integral part of the American diet, according to “Today’s Specialty Food Consumer,” an annual report from the Specialty Food Association. Dollar sales hit $127 billion this year, a 15% jump in total sales between 2014 and 2016. By comparison, all food sales at retail grew by only 2.3%.

Specialty foods are defined as foods or beverages of the highest grade, style and/or quality in their respective categories. Their specialty nature derives from a combination of some or all of the following qualities: uniqueness, origin, processing method, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, extraordinary packaging or channel of distribution/sales.

Specialty foods are outpacing their non-specialty counterparts in almost every category, as consumers continue to become more aware of quality in their food choices. Categories aligned with better-for you options, health and wellness, and freshness are growing fastest.
According to the research, mainstream retail channels are heating up. Millennials, a convenience-oriented consumer group, buy specialty foods wherever they shop. This trend has helped drive sales in multi-unit grocery and mass merchants, where growth outpaced that of natural or specialty chains for the first time.

Consumers are especially focused on specialty foods in the refrigerated sections. Categories with the biggest sales growth in this area include refrigerated juices and functional beverages up 30.7%, refrigerated lunch and dinner entrees up 33.0%, and yogurt and kefir up 27.2%.

Exhibiting suppliers at IFT will have an array of ingredient systems to assist with premiumizing dairy foods. This includes everything from flavors to inclusions.

5. Market lifestyle, lifestage or daypart. Health and nutrition are on top of mind, even with consumers who don’t necessarily follow what they know is best. It’s a growing trend to promote components of finished foods for how they contribute to a healthful lifestyle, assist with nutritional needs during a specific lifestage or fuel the body at different times of day.

Ingredient suppliers will be showcasing macro and micro nutrients at IFT that can be promoted in product formulations. Be open to learning about functional nutrients with proven benefits.

Hope to see you this week!

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flavored Milk Trends: It’s the golden age of beverage innovation. It’s time to premiumize milk.

This is a golden age of beverage innovation in America, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. This is thanks to a desire for more healthful products with cleaner labels; the emergence of new ingredients, production processes and technologies; and the coming of age of millennials as the dominant consumer demographic, a group that is adventurous when it comes to trying new things.

After decades of being a rather staid business dominated by only a few major, national brands that were slow to innovate, this confluence of modern trends has unplugged the innovation pipeline for the beverage industry. This includes fluid milk processors, especially those with a strong local consumer base.

“Ideas are flowing like perhaps they haven’t in decades, if not a century. Indeed, until recently the beverage industry had remained untouched by radical transformation. That is not the case any longer,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts. “Innovation is touching every aspect of the beverage industry today, and there is a lot more on the horizon.”

http://www.sensoryeffects.com/our-products/beverage-dairy-systems/flavored-milk
Visit SensoryEffects at IFT, booth #2050.


Now’s the time to get creative with milk, in terms of both flavor and package.

Retail sales data from IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, for the first quarter of 2017, show that flavored milk sales were up 3.5%. Whole-fat milk sales were also up (3.3%), as was lactose free (12%). These three formulations continue to be bright spots in the fluid milk category, as are more niche value-added segments, including refuel milk (up 21.9%).


Source: IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association


What the data from the first quarter also showed was that the retail decline for overall fluid milk was a bit more pronounced than we have seen in the past two years, with sales down 3.3%. Volume leader, white gallon milk, is driving overall fluid milk declines.

Other IRI data show that the volume of flavored milk sold through retail grew 15.8% between 2014 and 2016 and growth is continuing in to 2017. Flavored milk currently accounts for 10.5% of milk through all channels and 5.6% at retail. Four in 10 households purchase flavored milk during the course of a year. Flavor innovations and value-added formulations may entice more households to give flavored milk a try.


Source: IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association


It’s important to note the life stage that is indexing as high volume users. It’s households with families, both young families and those raising teens. In fact, usage of flavored milk by households with 12 to 17 year olds is 77% higher than the national norm. This data suggests there’s a huge opportunity to formulate for such households. 

Now, don’t assume that it’s just the kids drinking the milk. It’s very likely that product is being purchased because of the kids at home, yet, the entire household is enjoying the product. Varied flavors, package sizes and package types appeal different households. Do some research about your target demographic and get busy.


Here’s a great example. Shaken Udder was born in 2003, serving thousands of fresh milkshakes (flavored milk) to festival goers across the U.K. As the fan base grew, customers started to demand their milkshake fix year-round, so founders Howie and Jodie took a look at retail shelves. They were thoroughly disappointed with what they found, marvelous milk was being ruined by ingredients artificial ingredients. The pair decided milk deserved better and set about creating Britain’s best milkshake.

The company’s new breed of milkshakes first hit shelves of Harvey Nichols in 2008 and are now sold in major retailers plus thousands of individual outlets. The milkshakes are all gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. They are made with British milk and premium ingredients.

Chocolush contains two types of Belgian chocolate. Vanillalicious uses real vanilla beans. Top Banana contains 5% real banana puree. Salted Caramel combines the sweet brown taste of caramel with Maldon Sea salt.

The company recently collaborated with Rodda’s Creamery to welcome a new flavor: Strawberries & Rodda’s Clotted Cream. Like the other milk shakes, it starts with a base of semi-skimmed British milk, to which real strawberries and Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream is added.

This innovation placed the company as a finalist in the World Dairy Innovation Awards 2017.

The winners and finalists in the World Dairy Innovation Awards 2017 were announced on June 7th at a gala dinner at the Global Dairy Congress in Dublin, Ireland. The judging panel, which included myself, considered entries from more than 20 countries in 19 categories.

A full list of this year’s winners and finalists in all 19 categories can be viewed HERE.

In the U.S., Rosa Brothers is introducing single-serve flavored milk. All of the dairy’s milk products come from sustainably raised Holstein cows on the company’s family farm. They are packaged in environmentally friendly and better-taste-transferring glass bottles, according to the company. Unlike the quart and half-gallon bottles, which require a return deposit at point of purchase, the new 12-ounce glass bottles are intended to be disposed of in a recycle bin. The new single-serve bottles come in four whole milk varieties. They are: banana, chocolate, strawberry and white.

The Farmer’s Cow is on board with premium flavored milks with its new seasonal, limited-edition approach. Earlier this year, the New England dairy introduced Maple Milk. This flavor literally “taps” into the seasonal flavor of maple sugaring. Rich, sweet Vermont maple syrup is carefully blended with fresh whole milk. Each 32-ounce bottle contains approximately one-quarter cup of real maple syrup, no artificial flavor and no high fructose corn syrup or added sugar other than the maple syrup. More recently the dairy rolled out its second seasonal flavor: Raspberry White Chocolate Milk. This unique milk blends the flavors of the rich sweetness of white chocolate and natural raspberry with fresh whole milk. It, too, comes in a similar 32-ounce collectible glass bottle designed to stand out in the dairy case.
                                                                                                                Shatto Milk Company in the Kansas City area does a fabulous job with its flavored milk program. In addition to banana, chocolate and strawberry, the local dairy offers fun flavors like cookies n’ cream, cotton candy and root beer. They’ve had limited-edition offerings such as apple pie and chocolate cherry. The flavored whole-fat milks come in glass bottles, and in three sizes: pint, quart and half gallon.                                                              There are many local dairies around the country, in fact, around the world, doing great things with flavored milk. It’s a golden opportunity. Get on board! 

http://www.sensoryeffects.com/our-products/beverage-dairy-systems/flavored-milk
Visit SensoryEffects at IFT, booth #2050.






Friday, June 9, 2017

Dairy is Back (for now). It’s up to the industry (us) to keep it relevant.

This year’s International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association annual expo took place this week in Anaheim. As always, cheese dominated the show, but as you should have been able to tell from the innovations featured this week as a Daily Dose of Dairy, all dairy foods were prominently on display, everything from Mexican-seasoned squeeze sour cream to artisan butter to premium single-serve flavored milk. It’s a good time to be dairy. But it’s up to the industry to invest and to innovate to keep dairy relevant to today’s consumers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to expo attendees on the opening day. He shared his three tips for success: have a vision, don’t mind the naysayers and work your butt off. In between those three tips he emphasized the need to educate, to nourish and to volunteer. These are all things that dairy farmers—and those who process and market milk and dairy foods—do on a regular basis.
After an inspirational presentation about hard work, Arnold bid adieu to attendees with “I’ll be back.”

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The dairy industry does not want to ever say those words. We are thriving. Let’s stay there by staying relevant.

To stay relevant, it’s important to invest in your education. And it’s that time of year—IFT—when knowledge and science are just a session or supplier exhibit away. IFT kicks off in Las Vegas in little more than a week. Here are some must-attend sessions to assist with product innovation.

Monday, June 26, 10:30am-12:00pm, Session 13, “A Toolbox Approach to Developing High-Protein Dairy Foods”
In formulating protein-fortified foods, a developer often has to factor in physicochemical outcomes of higher protein-protein interactions, e.g., taste, texture and stability. Successful fortification with proteins is often accompanied with well-considered choices of formulation and processing adjustments to deliver a great-tasting food that meets consumer expectations. Dairy proteins provide numerous functional and nutritional advantages in this regard and are the benchmark for other proteins. Beyond nutrition, dairy proteins are considered good emulsifiers, texture builders, whipping agents (in some applications), fat substitutes, etc. Speakers in this symposium will provide insight on the macro- and molecular-level behavior of dairy proteins both in the ingredient state as well as in the context of high-protein food systems.

The session kicks off with Dr. Hasmukh Patel, a former faculty member of the Dairy Science Department at South Dakota State University and currently employed in the industry. The main focus of his research is to help understand the basic mechanisms and provide new knowledge to enable the design of new dairy and food ingredients and new products and processing technologies. He will address “The Landscape of Opportunities and Challenges in Formulating High Dairy-Protein Food.”

Next there’s Dr. Allen Foegeding, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Food Science at North Carolina State University. His research has provided insight into how food biopolymers function in foods with a focus on whey proteins in forming sols, foams and gels. He will speak on “Shelf Life Issues with High Dairy-Protein Foods.”

Additional speakers will address issues surrounding the dispersibility and solubility of milk protein concentrates, which offer unique advantages for protein-fortified foods and beverages. Participants will also learn about astringency challenges with high-dairy-protein foods.


Monday, June 26, 3:30pm-5:00pm, Session 26, “Innovations in Spray-Dried, Fortified Dairy Products and Emulsions: Recent Advances and Product Applications”

Spray drying is still the most common technique used to produce dairy powders with prolonged shelf life. The demand for fortified dairy products and emulsions continues to increase. The infant formula market in Australia alone (including export) grows at more than 45% per annum. Other rapidly emerging markets include specialized dairy ingredients for sports nutrition, an aging population and improving gut health. The production of any spray-dried powders that fail to meet the consumer’s specifications represents significant monetary and resource losses and increases environmental footprint. This is still a practical challenge faced by the dairy and food industry, as there are specific requirements to meet the demand of increasingly specialized dairy ingredients for application in a range of products including high-protein beverages, emulsion-based products, bars, and other such products.

The audience will have an opportunity to learn about the latest research and technology that can be applied to solve the challenges associated with functional, fortified dairy food and beverage products, including sports nutrition, medical nutrition and meal replacement products. Speakers include Dr. Patel, Dr. Cordelia Selomulya, an a biotechnology and food engineer research in Australia and Dr. Romain Jeantet, a food engineering professor in the joint research unit Agrocampus Ouest-INRA in Rennes, France.

Why is it so important to invest in dairy education and innovation? Because at the same these sessions are taking place, there are similar presentations being made on the growing opportunities with plant proteins.

I do believe the two can exist in harmony. But to do so, I will say it again, dairy must stay relevant to today’s consumers. We don’t want to have to say in a few years that we will be back. Let’s stay there!

Part of staying relevant is narrative. At its essence, narrative is about creating meaning. It’s the tool for making sense of the vastness of our world and the infinite data points, factoids and opinions. The dairy industry has one of the most amazing stories to tell. Share it. (Scroll down for a peak at my fun IDDBA story.)

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Farm-to-Fork: Ingredients that Resonate with Dairy Foods Consumers

Photo source: Bob Evans

The concept of “from the farm” vs. “developed in a lab” resonates with consumers and will be the focus of many exhibits at this year’s IFT, which is in less than four weeks in Las Vegas. This “farm” story is one that the dairy industry inherently is part of, which is why it is so crucial that dairy foods manufacturers use ingredients that do not dilute this natural and wholesome message.

It’s paramount that dairy foods formulators understand that for many of today’s consumers, food selection is based on a combination of nutrition and personal values. Looks and tastes still matter, but other criteria often come into consideration when deciding between two brands of similar product.

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The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 12th Annual Food and Health Survey shows that more than half of consumers say it is very important or important that they recognize the ingredients listed on the package of the food they buy at retail. Half feel the same way about knowing where their food comes from. A growing number of consumers want to understand how a food is produced and to know that the manufacturer shares similar values in terms of sustainability, environment, food waste and more. 

Sourcing ingredients has become so much more than a numbers game. It’s important that ingredients can be traced back to the farm so this farm story can be communicated to consumers. Using “all-natural” phrases such as “sweetened with a touch of Texas-grown cane sugar” or “colored by sun-ripened tomatoes” appeal to today’s consumers.

 



A study published in the Journal of Food Science found that expectations of product quality, nutritional content and the amount of money consumers were willing to pay increased when consumers saw a product labeled “all-natural” as compared to the same product without the label.
 

Researchers at Ohio State University used virtual reality technology to simulate a grocery store taste-test of peanut butter. In one condition, consumers were asked by a server to evaluate identical products with only one being labeled all-natural. In the other, the server additionally emphasized the all-natural status of the one sample.

In the first condition, expectations of product quality and nutritional content increased, but not liking or willingness to pay additional for the all-natural product. However, expectations of product quality and nutritional content as well the amount of money subjects were willing to pay increased further when a virtual in-store server identified one of the peanut butters as being made with all-natural ingredients. This result was observed across a diverse group of subjects indicating the broad impact of the all-natural label.



Currently FDA has not provided a clear definition of the phrases “natural” or “all natural,” despite extensive use in U.S. product marketing. Prior research has indicated that consumers define “natural” primarily by the absence of “undesirable” attributes such as additives and human intervention, as opposed to the presence of specific positive qualities.
You can view the abstract HERE.




Formulating “all-natural” dairy foods often refers to eliminating chemical-sounding additives or any ingredient recognized as being artificial, most notably certain colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners. It is best to determine finished product labeling, sensory and shelf life goals prior to product development. This checklist can assist with identifying your toolbox of potential ingredients.
 

  • Colors: Any ingredient with the sole purpose of adding color to a food or beverage is a color additive, with all color additives requiring approval by FDA as a food additive. The FDA classifies color additives as either “certified” or “exempt from certification.” The former is commonly referred to as artificial or synthetic; and the latter, by default, is often characterized as natural. Because FDA does not consider any color added to a food as being natural, unless the color is natural to the product itself, such as strawberry extract boosting the red color of strawberries in yogurt, it is more common to use label claims such as “free from synthetic colors” or “colored with fruit and vegetable juice” rather than “all natural.” Determine your label claim up front. 
  •  
  • Flavors: Both natural and artificial flavors are manufactured through the blending of chemicals. The difference is when essential oils are used in the manufacture of the flavor, or when artificial chemicals are blended to simulate essential oils. The former is considered natural, the latter artificial. Based on the raw material, FDA is very clear on the labeling of flavors as either natural or artificial. Historically many natural flavors were considered weaker in flavor strength and less stable to processing than their artificial counterparts. Advanced technologies have significantly improved quality, but often with a cost. It is paramount that formulators determine flavor targets and budgets in order to have realistic goals.
     
  • Preservatives: The FDA defines a chemical preservative as any chemical that, when added to food, tends to prevent or retard deterioration. Ingredients excluded from this list include common salt, sugars, vinegars, spices or oils extracted from spices, as well as substances added to food by direct exposure, for example wood smoke. Consumers expect refrigerated dairy products to have a shorter shelf life, as they are perishable living systems. Chemical preservatives are usually not necessary, unless the goal is for a lengthy shelf life, as is the case with spreadable cheeses and even some cultured products. Determine the minimum expiration date necessary for your distribution system.  
     
  • Sweeteners: The FDA does not impose the descriptor of artificial to any sweetener, rather, there are six high-intensity sweeteners—acesulfame potassium, advantame, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose—approved as food additives in the U.S. Even though they are not legally classified as artificial sweeteners, this descriptor has become common language, making label claims such as “free from artificial sweeteners” increasingly popular in the clean-label movement. There are an array of sweeteners available to formulators, some of which have cleaner reputations than others. For example, agave, honey, monkfruit, pure cane sugar and stevia have all gained traction in the natural products channel as wholesome, naturally derived sweetening options. Formulators should identify all sweeteners to avoid prior to product development, as sweetener may impact product appearance, color, flavor, mouthfeel and other attributes. Remember to consider the sweeteners in ingredient systems such as fruit preparation and inclusions.

The “all-natural” position has some overlap with the “free from” platform. This is all about the elimination of certain foods and food ingredients based on personal values and avoidance diets, which may be for real medical reasons or perceived wellness benefits. To read more about “free from” formulating, please link HERE to an article I recently wrote for Food Business News.

Infographic source: Lycored


There’s also the whole GMO debate. The fact is, the way Americans eat has become a source of social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their principles on how foods connect with their health and ailments, according to a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. The Pew study showed that a sizable minority--39%--of Americans consider genetically modified (GM) foods worse for health than other foods. This compares with 48% of adults who say GM foods are no different from non-GM foods and 10% who say GM foods are better for health.

I just finished a special report on this topic for Food Business News. You can read it HERE.



World Milk Day
Yesterday (June 1) was World Milk Day, the kickoff to June being Dairy Month. To learn more about this annual event, link HERE.




Here’s some great news during a time when many of us dread reading consumer media headlines.
 

The public health case for the consumption of milk and other dairy foods is stronger today than ever. This is a fact that is increasingly recognized by health experts and consumers in the U.S. and across the globe.
 

“The undeniable good news about dairy products starts with its unmatched value as a superfood--no other food source comes close to providing the same nutrition,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).
 

A glass of milk provides nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin.
 

Over the years, “this consistent nutritional package has earned dairy its unparalleled wholesome 
reputation--a healthy halo--that consumers recognize and trust. Meeting government nutrient recommendations is extremely difficult without including milk and dairy in your diet,” he says. “World Milk Day offers us a great opportunity to remind consumers here at home, and around the world, of the important benefits of real milk. It may have its imitators, but no other product can duplicate or replace the same unprocessed, natural goodness of the real thing.”

A few weeks ago, sort of a lead into Dairy Month, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy--in partnership with America’s Dairy Farm Families and Importers--launched “Undeniably Dairy,” an innovative category campaign.


“We feel that now is the absolute right time to come together with one voice to share the community’s story--to celebrate the delicious, nutritious foods in the dairy aisle and the people who bring them to your table,” says Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.


In addition to showcasing the undeniable taste and enjoyment that comes from dairy--like a warm slice of pizza or a yogurt parfait on a summer day--the campaign is spotlighting the undeniably positive role the dairy community—those farms that resonate with today’s consumers--plays in America today.  
 

“Despite dairy farms being in all 50 states and most of us living within 100 miles of a dairy farm, many people have never set foot on a farm,” says Beth Engelmann, chief marketing communications officer at Dairy Management Inc., which represents America’s nearly 42,000 dairy farmers and importers. “Undeniably Dairy is about reestablishing the connection between the enjoyment of the product and the hard work and pride of the people who make it possible. This campaign is unprecedented in that it unifies a vast and diverse dairy industry and array of dairy products behind a single platform.”
 

Today, farmers use 65% less water and 63% less carbon per gallon of milk produced. And for every $1 million of in-store U.S. milk sales, 17 new jobs are generated.  
 

“When you see a dairy farm, you’re usually looking at multiple generations of providing for the community, multiple generations of land conservation, multiple generations of business innovation,” says Amber Horn-Leiterman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer. “And that often means being an early adopter when it comes to new technology that allows us to advance and improve animal care, capture and reuse our resources and maintain a total commitment to producing products that are safe, healthy and nutritious.” 
 

To learn more about the Undeniably Dairy campaign, link HERE.


Be smart when you formulate dairy foods. Keep dairy undeniably natural and wholesome. Hope to see you in Vegas soon!

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