Thursday, June 21, 2018

IFT 2018: Smart Food Development

The Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo is right around the corner. IFT18: A Matter of Science + Food will take place in Chicago July 15 to 18, 2018. For more information, link HERE.

Like with any exposition, in the weeks leading up to the event, editors get inundated with press releases announcing new products and innovative applications, which is what IFT is all about. It goes without saying that plant-based foods will dominate the show floor. Color companies will be coloring them and flavoring companies will be…yep, you guessed it, flavoring them. Nutrient companies will be making them delivery vehicles for everything from caffeine to fiber to vitamins.

I encourage you to explore these innovations. And so do others in the dairy industry.

John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board, authored an excellent column for the June 8, 2018, issue of Cheese Market News. He wrote:

“There are many loyal dairy consumers getting caught up in experimentation, and we must be very careful how we address those who may be a little more adventurous. We find dairy and dairy alternatives in the same refrigerators and consumers don’t seem to have anywhere near the problem with that as we do. They’re already consuming both. Telling consumers they are wrong is not going to gain their loyalty, we must show them how we fit in.”  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=alt_dairy
Visit Ingredion at Booth S2131 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

He goes on to write that the industry needs to stop talking about dairy “alternatives” because that just legitimizes them. They are not alternatives to dairy. They are their own product.

“Identifying these products as alternatives and then telling our consumers they are wrong to buy them is not a recipe for success.” 

It’s important to provide consumers options. Give them smart food options. These may be traditional dairy foods, dairy-free foods or dairy foods in a whole new format.

This week General Mills introduced YQ by Yoplait to the yogurt aisle. “Smarter, not sweeter.” That is the philosophy behind the new product made with ultra-filtered milk. It delivers big on protein with an intentionally less sweet taste.

This is the type of smart ingredient technology to explore when you are at IFT.

YQ by Yoplait Plain brings the yogurt category a new 1-gram-sugar-per-serving option, while packing 17 grams of protein in each 5.3 oz. container. The flavored varieties deliver 9 grams of sugar--40% less than the leading Greek low-fat yogurt--and are lightly sweetened with cane sugar, real fruit and natural flavors.

Flavored varieties deliver 15 grams of protein per 5.3 ounce serving and are available in Blueberry, Coconut, Lime, Mango, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla. Plain and Vanilla are also available in 26 ounce tubs.

“We talked to thousands of people to really understand what they were missing from the yogurt aisle. We heard loud and clear the need for a smart snack option, something made with simple ingredients, less sugar and higher protein,” says Doug Martin, vice president of marketing for Yoplait USA. “What we’ve been able to accomplish with YQ by Yoplait delivers on this desire. Through our use of simple ingredients, ultra-filtered milk and active cultures, we’ve created a protein-packed, less sweet flavor profile with a thick, smooth, extra creamy texture. It’s unlike anything that exists in the yogurt aisle today.”

YQ by Yoplait starts with ultra-filtered milk, which is milk that has been filtered to concentrate the amount of protein while removing much of the milk’s sugar, or lactose. Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar that adds virtually no sweetness. The ultra-filtered milk is then combined with active cultures and goes through a special churning technique, perfected by Yoplait in France. The result is a differential nutritional profile without the tart tang or chalky aftertaste of Greek-style yogurts, according to the company.

YQ by Yoplait is gluten free, 99% lactose free and contains no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no colors from artificial sources. And, its package is eye-catching, just what today’s adventurous consumers want to explore. 

 Here’s another example of a dairy involved with smart product development. Finland-based Valio has developed Valio MiFU, a dairy-based product that substitutes for meat or poultry in recipes. Made from Finnish milk using proprietary technology, MiFU comes in strips and is ready to eat.

“Quite a lot is demanded from even a simple home-cooked dish: it should be healthy, quick to prepare and tasty to the whole family. People get tired of making the same meals and are looking for variety. We had these issues in mind when we set out to develop MiFU. The products inspire people to try something new,” says Business Manager Pia Järvinen. “Valio MiFU is a great example of how milk can be turned into many forms and uses.”

The story of Valio MiFU products started when Valio’s internal innovation team was assigned the task of coming up with a new way to use the casein protein found in milk. The starting point for product development was to find alternative protein sources to meat. Many challenges had to be overcome before the successful end result.

“One of the most important tasks of product development was developing a texture that could be pan-fried. Creating a good texture and mouthfeel, however, wasn’t enough: the product also had to remain the same when heated and be easy to use in food preparation,” says Niko Nurmi, a researcher at Valio. “The nutritional values we aimed for were a high protein and a low fat content, without compromising good taste.”

MiFU is best when used in hot meals as is or after browning in a frying pan. MiFU maintains its texture and mouthfeel well when heated. Valio MiFU is 24% protein and is free of lactose, gluten, eggs and yeast, so the strips are suitable for many special diets.

This week, Valio MiFU strips won the World Dairy Innovation Awards competition in the Best New Brand/Business category. This was the 12th year of the annual awards and the winners demonstrated high levels of innovation across new flavors, concepts, packaging designs and manufacturing technologies.

The U.K.’s Bio-tiful Dairy Kefir-Quark was the winner in two categories: Best Functional Dairy and Best Brand Extension. It was also a runner-up on Best Dairy Snack, which was won by Nanyang Polytechnic for its Aloha Bliss Frozen Yoghurt.

Kefir-Quark is a 150-gram cup of kefir and quark made with British milk. It is free from any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or added sugars, and contains probiotic cultures, including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The original variety contains 90 calories, 18 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of fat and 3.5 grams of sugar (inherent to the milk). The Cranberry & Chia variety has a dome cup with a topping composed of dried cranberries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. A cup contains 191 calories, 21.4 grams of protein, 7.2 grams of fat and 6.7 grams of sugar (inherent to the milk and the topping).

Aloha Bliss is a frozen yogurt bite-sized snack made with functional ingredients extracts from fruits, vegetables and even edible flowers. Inside every bite is a chewy center of chia seeds for texture, flavor and extra nutrition.

Nanyang Polytechnic research institute was also a finalist for the Best Dairy Drink with its Fleuryo High Calcium Yoghurt Drink. Made with ingredients such as heat-treated egg shells, yogurt, earl grey tea and chia seeds, a serving of Fleuryo is said to meet the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults aged 19 to 50 years old. The beverage tastes similar to Thai milk tea with chewy bits of chia seeds. Egg shells were used because they are some of the most calcium-rich whole food ingredients in the world. Instead of sugar, the researchers used monk fruit extract, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. The drink is low in fat, high in protein and has live yogurt cultures, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and calcium.

Fleuryo is another example of smart product development.

Link HERE to view the list of all the winners and runner-ups.

This last example of smart product development comes from Tyson Innovation Lab, the Chicago-based team of Tyson Foods Inc., tasked with bringing new consumer products to market in just six months. These out-of-the-box thinkers developed a meat snack designed to help address food waste.

Given the scale of the food waste problem, Tyson Innovation Lab sought partnerships with like-minded food companies. Together they developed Yappah! Protein Crisps, which is a chicken-based snack crafted from rescued and upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients that might otherwise be left behind. The brand name was inspired by a tradition in the South American Andes called “yapa,” which refers to the little something extra a merchant gives to a valued customer so that nothing gets wasted.

“The Yappah! brand mission is unique, important and far-reaching,” says Rizal Hamdallah, head of Tyson Innovation Lab. “The brand was created to inspire people and partners to rethink their relationship to food and how it impacts society. Through this launch, we intend to address global food challenges such as food waste. With the Protein Crisps we are taking forgotten ingredients and crafting them into a delicious protein snack.”

The statistics behind food waste are overwhelming. In the U.S., nearly one-third of all food used in food production ends up as waste, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The average person wastes 3.5 pounds of food per week and uneaten food equates to Americans throwing out as much as $218 billion each year, most of which ends up rotting in landfills where it emits harmful greenhouse gases.

It is these statistics that often give animal-based foods, including dairy products, an earth-unfriendly reputation. Here’s what Tyson is doing to change that for chicken. The company uses chicken breast trim that is still full of flavor and protein and combines it with either rescued vegetable puree from juicing or rescued spent grain from beer brewing to create the line’s four flavors, which are: chicken carrot curry, chicken celery mojo, chicken IPA white cheddar and chicken shandy beer.

With all these smart product development ideas, I challenge you to explore this year’s IFT with an
open mind.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovation Idea: Eating for the Health of It

Cultured dairy products—from cottage cheese to quark to yogurt—can benefit with a side of inclusions. Often times they are the fun factor, they provide consumers the opportunity to interact with their food. What if these inclusions also delivered extra nutrition? Maybe vitamins and minerals? Protein? Fiber?

About one-third (66%) of Americans would like to eat more healthfully by making nutritional changes such as consuming less sugar and eating more protein, according to The Hartman Group’s Transformation of the American Meal 2017 report.

Inclusions are an easy way to do this, as inclusions in cultured products are easily provided via a dual-compartment container or a cup with an attached dome. This eliminates issues with ingredient interactions in the dairy food. When protein or fiber are delivered through inclusions, texture, mouthfeel and other sensory attributes of the white mass are not impacted.

Inclusions, which can also be a topping or part of a coating system, make sense in ice cream and frozen yogurt, too. All those pints of high-protein, lower-calorie, lower-sugar frozen dairy desserts in the market can become a little more exciting—and nutritious—with better-for-you inclusions. Maybe pints should get a dome. What about ice cream with a side cup of goodies? Consumers love playing with their food. Inclusions make this possible.

Protein-packed inclusions such as whey pods are a highly nutritional extruded form of whey proteins with a clean bland flavor. They are 70% protein, including whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. These little balls can be included with other inclusion crunchies, such as nuts, chocolate-covered whole grains and fabricated flavored fiber bits.


Inulin and inulin-type fructans, including chicory root fiber; high-amylose starch (resistant starch 2); polydextrose; mixed plant cell wall fibers, including sugar cane fiber and apple fiber; arabinoxylan; alginate; galactooligosaccharide; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin are the eight non-digestible carbohydrates additionally being recognized as fiber by FDA, according to a final guidance published on June 14, 2018, in the Federal Register.

The eight approvals give food manufacturers additional clarity in updating their labels as needed ahead of the compliance date for FDA’s new Nutrition Facts Label, which is Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales, and Jan. 1, 2021, for smaller manufacturers.

The announcement follows various petitions, many with like-ingredient suppliers joining together to request the addition of beneficial non-digestible fibers to FDA’s definition of fiber, which was issued on May 27, 2016. This was FDA’s first time defining fiber, with the definition being “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; or isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units) determined by the FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.”

All of the eight recently approved fibers fit the second definition. The petitions, and supporting research, clearly showed that the fibers support physiological health benefits as assessed by FDA’s strict criteria, according to Carl Volz, president of Sensus America.

FDA’s examples of beneficial physiological effects include lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels; lowering blood pressure; increase in frequency of bowel movements (improved laxation); increased mineral absorption in the intestinal tract; and reduced energy intake (for example, due to the fiber promoting a feeling of fullness).

Speaking to inulin, the most commonly used fiber food ingredient in dairy foods, namely yogurt, “The FDA’s inclusion of chicory root fiber as a dietary fiber in its new food labeling regulations allows our customers to continue marketing their products as sources of dietary fiber and to continue to use chicory root fiber as a tool to reduce calories and added sugar.”

To read the FDA published ruling, link HERE.

It’s time to include more protein and fiber in dairy foods, so consumers can eat for the health of it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Ice Cream 2018: The Five Biggest Trends this Summer

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so much activity in the retail ice cream freezer. This is likely the result of numerous start-ups gaining notoriety and the big players defending their space.

The dynamics are quite polarizing, with many players participating in both extremes. This includes private label, which is not the norm, like so many things in the world these days.

Take Albertsons Companies, for example. This retail giant rolled out two private label brands this summer, participating in the top-three trends.

Trend #1: Culinary-Inspired Ice Cream
Albertsons’ Signature Reserve is a new top-shelf culinary presence for the retailer. The brand is intended for life’s special and indulgent moments, offering unparalleled quality and exquisite taste for customers who are obsessed with the exceptional.

“Signature Reserve inspires delicious discovery with extraordinary and expertly sourced flavors and ingredients,” says Geoff White, president of Albertsons Companies Own Brands. “Shoppers are more educated and interested in culinary trends than ever before, and Signature Reserve will surprise and delight them with unique and exciting products that are found only in our stores.”

The initial launch of Signature Reserve is seven decadent flavors of ice cream, all featuring globally sourced ingredients that are perfect for entertaining or everyday indulgence. Flavors include Brazilian Guava Cheesecake, Madagascar Vanilla, Colombian Cold Brew Caramel, Bourbon Maple Blondie, Indian Cardamom Pistachio, Caramel Apple Chai and Belgian Chocolate Almond. These ice creams are available now at Albertsons Companies stores, including the namesake Albertsons, Jewel-Osco and Safeway.

The company plans to introduce additional new Signature Reserve products in other categories throughout 2018, including ultra-premium pasta and pasta sauces imported from Italy, single-origin packaged coffees from Sumatra and Nicaragua, and four varieties of hand-picked loose leaf tea.

“We scour the earth for ingredients and unique flavors that meet the exacting standards of Signature Reserve,” says White. “Products earn the Signature Reserve label only after a rigorous selection process, which includes scrutiny by our culinary professionals and expert merchants for top quality craftsmanship.”

Trend #2: High-Protein, Low-Sugar Ice Cream
Albertsons has also rolled out Open Nature Scandal-less Ice Cream. It’s a high-protein ice cream with 67% less fat and 45% fewer calories than regular ice cream. The product relies on a sweetener blend of stevia, cane sugar and erythritol. Because this is under the Open Nature brand, shoppers are assured that only natural ingredients are used to make the ice cream.

The new Open Nature Scandal Less Ice Cream comes in seven flavors all under 380 calories per pint. They are: Chocolate Mocha Chip, Cookies and Cream, Cookie Dough, Mint Chip, Peanut Butter Cup, Sea-Salt Caramel and Vanilla.

This is an interesting category and it will be interesting to see how the numbers play out at the end of the year, as there are way too many players. That’s right, you read it here first. Ice cream marketers looked at retail scanner data from 2017 and saw that the few players in the high-protein, low-sugar segment—one in particular--were doing quite well. What they did not know is that retail sales data shows the scan, not the discount. Many of these products were on “buy-one-get-one free” deals most of 2017. One of the more notable brands issued “one free pint, no purchase necessary” coupons at the register every time you made a purchase as select grocers. I personally received seven free pint coupons last August.  

Trend #3: Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert
Albertsons also has its Open Nature brand participating in the non-dairy frozen dessert segment. These products are made with almonds and cashews.What’s important to note about the trend in non-dairy is that it is being embraced by dairies.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a 70-year old, family-owned California dairy has entered the growing plant-based food segment. They’ve reinvented everyone’s favorite treat with a line of Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts. Coming up with a product that met McConnell’s high standards was challenging, but after a process that took the better part of a year, McConnell’s co-owner and chef Eva Ein finally arrived at a product that met the criteria. The secret ingredient? Peas, or more specifically, pea protein.

“There’s nothing interesting or innovative about coconut cream, almond or cashew milk, or soy-based ‘ice creams,’” says McConnell’s co-owner and CEO, Ein’s husband, Michael Palmer, referring to the industry’s standard alternatives to dairy-based ice creams. “These are the same products that’ve been out there for years, and the results are rarely worth it.” According to Palmer, it’s difficult to remove the coconut or roasted nut taste from a coconut cream or nut-based product. In attempting to do this, companies typically over-flavor their products, along with pumping these products full of air and stabilizers, which results in chalky, crumbly, inconsistent texture.

McConnell’s Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts are made from a proprietary blend (McConnell’s P3) of 100% micronized pea protein. Pea protein is a sustainable protein derived from yellow peas, the very same plant-based protein found in many of the food industry’s cutting-edge vegetarian and dairy-free milk substitutes. The result? McConnell’s Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts line, made from a base that is both neutral in flavor and shares the mouthfeel--and many other characteristics--found in McConnell’s super smooth, 18.5% butterfat ice creams. McConnell’s dairy-free is also lower in fat and sugar, cholesterol-free and non-GMO.

“People who crave great ice cream want to taste great ice cream, whether it’s dairy-based or not. The last thing we want to have to do is apologize for giving customers a lesser experience. They shouldn’t have to settle,” says Palmer.

The line comes in five flavors. They are: Cookies & Cream, Dark Chocolate Chip, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip and Turkish Coffee.

Trend #4: Making Ice Cream Fun Again
These first three trends are all about better-for-you and indulgence. Remember when ice cream was fun? Ben & Jerry’s has managed, for the most part, to remain entertaining. But many other brands, in efforts to be simpler and more natural, have stopped being whimsical and lost their kid appeal.
Nestle Ice Cream is filling that void this summer. Licensing the Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman characters from DC Comics, Nestle Ice Cream has rolled out three light ice creams under both the Dreyer’s and Edy’s brands. In efforts to get mom’s stamp of approval, the ice creams are free from artificial colors and flavors. The three varieties are:

Batman’s Dark Knight Brownie Bite is chocolate light ice cream mixed with bat-shaped chocolatey pieces, brownie chunks and fudge swirl.

Superman’s Krypton Cookie Dough is cookie dough-flavored light ice cream with red and gold cookie dough pieces and blue sprinkles.

Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso is swirled vanilla- and caramel-flavored light ice cream with star-shaped caramel chips and graham cracker variegate.

There are comics on the back of each package. Consumers collect all four comics from each superhero to read an exclusive adventure.

The company is also selling red, white and blue Sour Patch Kids ice cream exclusively through Walmart. The limited-edition product is a mix of lemon sorbet and vanilla ice cream with a red berry swirl and chunks of blue gummy candy.

Ice Cream Specialties, a division of Prairie Farms Dairy, now offers North Star Pucker Powder Sour Bars. These extreme sour frozen dairy novelties come in Green Apple, Lemon, Watermelon and Wild Cherry flavors.

As mentioned, Ben & Jerry’s leads in the fun ice cream segment. The Unilever brand has partnered with the band Phish for a third flavor: It’s Ice…Cream. (Pictured at beginning of blog.) This flavor features caramel malt ice cream with almond toffee pieces, fudge fish and a caramel swirl. It was one of the original flavor concepts in the running, back in 1997, to become Phish Food.

Ben & Jerry’s is also introducing three new cookie dough flavors for scoop shops and delivery only. Ben & Jerry’s created the first cookie dough ice cream back in 1984, and now the brand is introducing three new dough-riginal flavors.

They are:

Off The DOUGH Block! is chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate chip cookies.

P.B. DOUGHble Chocolate is dark and milk chocolate ice creams with peanut butter cookie dough and swirls of peanut butter cookie butter.

Cinn-DOUGH-rella! is cinnamon and caramel ice cream with cinnamon bun dough, shortbread cookies and oatmeal cinnamon cookie swirls.

Trend #5: A New Look with New Flavors
The final trend is as much about the product as it is about the package. A number of companies are giving their ice cream packages makeovers in order to better stand out in what is an extremely crowded retail freezer.

Hiland Dairy Foods is introducing three new ice cream flavors of its premium ice cream in new packages that feature crisp graphics with light blue backgrounds. More importantly, Hiland redesigned the packaging in response to consumer and grocer requests for more food label transparency and less packaging waste.

“The new packages align with our improved transparency in food labeling, which we began implementing earlier this year with double labels on our milk products,” says Rick Beaman, vice president, Hiland Dairy. “We also wanted our ice cream packaging to create less consumer waste in landfills, and that’s part of our commitment to sustainability and preserving the planet for future generations. And, as we celebrate 80 years of Hiland Dairy, we thought a new ice cream package would help celebrate our longevity.”

The three new flavors are:

Hiland Time Traveler was inspired by the revolutionary new Time Traveler roller coaster at Silver Dollar City, billed as the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest pinning coaster. The new ice cream flavor features French silk ice cream spun with marshmallow bonbons, chocolate flakes and thick fudge sauce.

Caramel Waffle Cone is caramel ice cream with milk chocolate swirls and fudge covered waffle cone pieces.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk is cherry-flavored ice cream with pieces of real cherries and chocolate chunks.

Humboldt Creamery also has a new look with new flavors. The company’s latest organic ice cream flavors are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. The new-and-improved package design features an increased logo for improved identification and a watercolor illustration of the beautiful Humboldt landscape and two grazing dairy cows.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yogurt: What’s going on with the category?

Photo source: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin 

I spent most of the Memorial Day holiday weekend working. Not too hard, but I did break my golden rule (once again). Not only do I (try) avoid talking money, politics and religion when I’m at extended family gatherings, I also try to avoid talking food because inevitably there’s multiple people with strong—usually unscientifically substantiated—opinions. I broke this rule this past weekend because just before the start of the holiday I received some disturbing news on the U.S. refrigerated yogurt category: retail yogurt volume sales continue to trend down.

U.S. yogurt retail volume sales were down 3.9% in the first quarter of 2018, according to data from IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association. This rate of decline, however, is more moderate than that observed in full year 2017, which was 4.8%. Yogurt volume began its decline mid-year 2016. This decline was observed quite broadly across regions, channels and segments of yogurt.

The promising news is that both yogurt drinks (+5.9%) and tubes (+3.8%) showed growth, which is likely attributed to their convenience attributes. Whole-milk/full-fat yogurts also showed growth (+9.1%).

“Contributing growth drivers for whole-fat yogurt may link to several factors: the emerging science that suggests potential benefits of dairy fat or whole milk dairy foods, the consumer trend toward whole, natural foods and new product launches,” says Jamie Liebich, director-demand at Midwest Dairy. “In addition, strong growth continued for the niche segment of Islandic-style yogurt (+40.7%), [which is all about protein]. However, the previous growth trajectory faltered for Australian-style yogurts, which were down (-23.0%) in the first quarter of this year.” 

This data encouraged me to have a food conversation with extended family and friends this holiday weekend to get some insight into what is going on with yogurt. My open-ended question was simply “What drives you to buy a cup of yogurt?”

I’m guessing I talked to about 50 people. Please note: this was not a scientific survey, so please don’t reference my findings.

The most insightful finding was what they did not mention. Not one person said fat content or calories. The most popular response was “flavor,” with “interesting” or “unique” often part of the answer. “Protein” and “nutrition” came in second, with “organic” third.

With a number of subjects, I pried a bit more. Most of those who identified flavor as a driver said they know yogurt is a healthful food and interesting or unique flavors helps them choose one product over another. Those who said protein and nutrition were the label readers and said they make most food purchases based on Nutrition Facts and ingredient statements. (Again, this was after asking for further explanation.) Fat content and calories were usually still not mentioned at this point; however, sugar content came up often. The third group, those who said organic, were sticklers on organic. They believed that the organic label was their ticket to purchase. In other words, if it was organic, it would have great flavor and be nutritionally desirable.

Now, I cannot emphasize enough that this was not a scientific survey, nevertheless, I found the responses to be very insightful. 

Here’s some consumer data you can reference. The IRI data showed that in the most recent 52 weeks, 84.4% of U.S. households purchased yogurt at least once, with average household purchase at 27.3 pints.

Life stage, race and income are key factors in how groups compare to the average U.S. household in volume purchased.

“African Americans, lower Income and households that are getting started (no children) and retired households fall below average purchase volume,” says Liebich. “Upper income, young families and those raising teens purchase above average volumes of yogurt.”

By far, households with young families and teenagers, and upper-income households indexed the highest. What this suggests is that if your yogurt line is struggling, don’t discount, rather premiumize…and charge for it! Parents will pay for quality products for their children, and for themselves. They want flavor, protein and often organic. Don’t forget that packaging, graphics and merchandising are as important as the product. Never forget that taste reigns.

And here’s some interesting research that you may be able to use to innovate and sell more yogurt.

A new study funded by National Dairy Council (NDC) shows that healthy, pre-menopausal women who consumed low-fat yogurt before meals reduced their risk for inflammation following the meal.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, but if the inflammatory response persists for too long, it can lead to chronic inflammation where the body essentially attacks itself and damages organs. Chronic inflammation is a factor in inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and asthma. It also is associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.

The research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study explored the hypothesis that eating yogurt before a high-fat, high-calorie meal may help reduce inflammation by improving the integrity of the intestinal lining, thus preventing endotoxins (pro-inflammatory molecules produced by gut microbes) from crossing into the bloodstream.

These findings on yogurt, combined with a study on yogurt’s role in reducing chronic inflammation that was published in the December 2017 British Journal of Nutrition, add to the body of evidence of the important role of eating yogurt for health, according to Chris Cifelli, vice president of nutrition research for NDC.

“Eating yogurt before meals is an easy--and tasty--way to help reduce inflammation, which is linked to several chronic diseases, including heart disease,” Cifelli says. “The next time someone asks, ‘What anti-inflammatory foods should I eat?’ be sure to share the emerging research on low-fat yogurt!”

The full research article is available in The Journal of Nutrition. Link HERE.

You know how soup and salad before the entrée is said to help satiate early in the meal to prevent overeating? Maybe there’s room for a high-protein meal starter. Check out this chilled yogurt soup prototype developed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which recently changed its name to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovation: Keep Milk and Dairy Foods Relevant through Emotional Connections and Value Propositions

Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council 

The National Restaurant Association held its annual expo this past week in Chicago.

As expected, meat alternatives and plant-based innovations were plentiful. In a presentation on foodservice trends, Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Co., an Atlanta-based restaurant consultancy, explained that as much as vegetables are now center-of-the-plate menu items and meat alternatives are mainstream, Americans are “committed carnivores.”

We are eating more meat and poultry than ever, according to USDA data.

“We love meat, but we would like it if you could make us feel a little better about it,” said Kruse. She cited McDonald’s recent national roll-out of fresh beef in Quarter Pounder burgers. “Tell me the story that makes me comfortable in making the choice I really want to make anyway.”

This holds true for dairy.

“Dairy alternatives are on a rise as consumers are increasingly going dairy-free, particularly when it comes to fluid milk used on things like cereal or in coffees,” according to Tom Bailey, senior analyst-dairy, Rabobank. “More recently, biotechnology has entered the arena, brewing milk proteins through biofermentation. The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and to consider applying those lessons to dairy.”

(If you have not heard of Perfect Day, a biotech firm brewing vegan milk proteins, link HERE.)

Bailey just authored a RaboResearch dairy report: Dare Not to Dairy--What the Rise of Dairy-Free Means for Dairy and How the Industry Can Respond. Link HERE for more information about the report. (My apologies, I was informed that I could not provide the link to the report, as I indictaed in the Daily Dose of Dairy email. You can reach out to Rabobank for more information.) The report is a MUST READ!

“Dairy alternatives have competed in the dairy space for decades, but competition has intensified as dairy alternatives broaden in types, styles and categories of product,” writes Bailey. “Hoping for the best and waiting for the tide to turn is not an advisable strategy for the dairy industry. Consumers have spoken. They want new and innovative quality products—dairy-based or otherwise—and they are willing to pay for them.”

This includes fiber- and protein-enriched products; lower-sugar and no-added-sugar products; and digestive (probiotics and prebiotics) products.

There’s no denying, global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives has soared at a rate of 8% annually the past 10 years. With retail sales valued at $15.6 billion, milk alternatives represented 12% of total fluid milk and alternative sales globally in 2017, according to Euromonitor.

“Nutrition, price and flavor tend to favor dairy, but changing consumer perceptions around health, lifestyle choices, curiosity and perceived sustainability are increasingly drawing more people to select dairy-free products,” writes Bailey.

The challenge for dairy lies mostly in fluid milk, where retail sales in Western Europe ($18.6 billion) and the U.S. ($12.5 billion) declined at an annual rate of 5% and 3%, respectively, in the five years to 2017, according to Euromonitor.

“Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5% for years to come, with demand for non-fluid categories offsetting weak fluid milk sales,” according to Bailey. “The results over the last five years have favored dairy players who have invested in milk alternatives across the supply chain, from planting almond trees to buying brands. The investments in dairy alternatives have shown returns above standalone dairy.”

The RaboResearch dairy report identifies the largest segment of consumers choosing dairy alternatives as being Millennials and Gen Z. Part of the reason dairy alternatives resonate with these groups is because marketers of these products connect and communicate with them on a more emotional level than traditional dairy foods marketers. The latter tends to be more facts and figures based, and that simply does not resonate with younger shoppers.

“Instead of fighting emotion with facts, the time has come to seriously consider implementing a new and possibly blended strategy,” writes Bailey. “The outlook for both dairy and alternatives remains bright through 2030, and perhaps even brighter together.”

He believes—as do I—the dairy industry needs to be more aggressive in product innovation. Value-added products provide a story that helps make that emotional connection.

Photo source: Blount Fine Foods

Here’s food for thought. Millennials and Gen Z love fresh soup. This was confirmed by exhibitors at the restaurant show. A driving force behind soups’ popularity with these younger demographics is that it’s familiar and comforting, while at the same time affordable. Soup also may be quite healthful, and for the most part, be simply formulated with fresh, local ingredients, qualities many Millennials and Gen Z are looking for in their prepared foods from retail and in foodservice.

Soup is also a low-risk item. Consumers can try new and interesting flavors without worrying about spending too much for something they may not enjoy. And soup is convenient.

Blount Fine Foods, one of the largest suppliers of prepared soups and mac and cheese to foodservice, including foodservice at retail, uses fluid dairy--not alternatives--in many of its products. And Millennials and Gen Z are eating it up.

The company identifies Guida’s Dairy as one of its preferred vendors. In 2017, Guida’s Dairy provided Blount with 10,708,859 lbs. of light cream; 5,769,470 lbs. of milk; 2,874,124 lbs. of heavy cream; and 1,210,933 lbs. of half and half.

Today’s consumers may be drinking less fluid dairy, but they are eating—or slurping—it!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dairy Goodness: Be Transparent in Product Development

“Science says we can. Society questions if we should.”

Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity said this at the 2018 Food & Agribusiness National Conference on May 17, 2018, in Minneapolis. Organized and hosted by the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, Arnot and I spoke on the topic of transparency in today’s food industry.

That statement says a great deal regarding where we are in today’s food culture. Just because something is scientifically feasible does not mean consumers will accept it. And if we want them to accept it, we better explain it to them. That’s the foundation of transparency in food manufacturing and marketing; however, there are many degrees to which one can be transparent.

Please take a moment to view this VIDEO on Colin the chicken to see just how far transparency can go with food.

There’s no denying that transparency is paramount in today’s food culture.

Transparency is the currency of trust, according to Deborah Arcoleo, director of product transparency at The Hershey Company. In April 2015, Hershey published a complete ingredient glossary on its website. You can view it HERE.

With this disclosure, Hershey owns its story. To preserve dairy’s goodness, processors must own their story, too. The absence of information allows someone else to “make up” a story, which in this day and age takes seconds to share via social media.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=texture

Hopefully you found humor with the Colin video, which came out about seven years ago. But here’s a company that is almost at that level of transparency.

Fishpeople Seafood was founded in 2012 to “re-imagine North America’s relationship to the sea.” The company’s passion for sustainability is helping restore habitats and peace-of-mind to fish lovers nationwide. All of Fishpeople’s seafood is responsibly sourced and sustainably caught in the Pacific Northwest by independent American fishermen, according to Ken Plasse, CEO. Packages provide the story of the place where the fish was raised. For more information, consumers can use the tracking code on the package to learn about where the fish came from, how it was caught and the full journey from waters to package.

“That’s right, we’re talking ridiculous transparency,” said Plasse at the Association for Corporate Growth conference in Chicago on April 19, 2018.

This is the future of food and the dairy industry is well poised to tell more of its story. Check out this VIDEO on “The best of dairy made better.” Learn how ingredients can work for your product. Communicate the role of various ingredients to consumers. Shoppers want to know it.

The 13th Annual Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation published this week. Data supports why transparency will become more important in food marketing. It should encourage dairy processors to be louder with their story.

Eight in 10 consumers said there is a lot of conflicting information about what foods to eat or avoid, a number similar to 2017. Of those people, 59% say that conflicting information makes them doubt their food choices.

“This dietary disconnect—the inability to connect specific foods and nutrients to desired health outcomes—illustrates the need for stronger, clearer, nutrition education based on the best available evidence,” says Joseph Clayton, CEO of the IFIC Foundation.

“Food values” continue their growth as a factor in consumers’ decision making, with organics increasingly popular in purchasing choices. When shopping for foods and beverages, 29% buy those labeled “organic,” up from 25% in 2017. Thirty-seven percent of shoppers bought foods and beverages billed as “natural,” up from 31% in 2017.

The importance of sustainability in food production also loomed larger in 2018, with 59% of consumers saying it’s important that the foods they purchase and consume be produced in a sustainable way, jumping up from 50% in 2017.

But in the end, the key drivers behind consumers’ food and beverage purchases are largely unchanged in 2018. “Taste” still reigns supreme (as it has every year the Food and Health Survey has been conducted), with 81% saying it has at least some impact in their buying decisions, followed by familiarity (a new addition in this year’s survey, at 65%), price (64%), healthfulness (61%), convenience (54%) and sustainability (39%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the current communications environment, consumers are averse to artificial ingredients, at least compared to the alternatives. When asked to choose between two versions of the same product—an older one that includes artificial ingredients and a newer version that does not—seven in 10 (69%) chose the product with no artificial ingredients, while one-third (32%) chose the one containing artificial ingredients.

The survey also asked those who preferred a product with no artificial ingredients how much they would be willing to pay versus a similar product with artificial ingredients that cost $1.00. An impressive 62% said they would pay up to 10% more ($1.10) for the product without artificial ingredients; 42% would pay up to 50% more ($1.50) and 22% would pay double the price ($2).

Communicating price increases is part of the transparency story.

Context is also key in how consumers perceive the healthfulness of two products with otherwise identical nutritional content. When asked to identify the healthier of two products with the same Nutrition Facts, 40% perceived one labeled “non-GMO” as healthier vs. 15% for one with genetically engineered ingredients, and 33% believed a product with a shorter ingredient list was healthier than one with more ingredients (15%).

Again, this is why transparency is so important. Explain the purpose of ingredients. It might be for color, to preserve flavor, to keep it safe, etc. Tell the story. Shoppers are reading the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient legend. They want to know more. The IFIC survey showed that more than half of consumers look at the Nutrition Facts panel or ingredient list often or always when making a purchasing decision.

Shoppers expect food manufacturers to be transparent with product ingredients, manufacturing processes and sourcing practice, according to data compiled by McKinsey & Company.

Research from The Hartman Group confirms that consumers want more information about a company’s economic, social and environmental practices. The more the better. While information about practices directly connected to the product or service is most essential, consumers are also interested in broader corporate practices.

It is not about the quantity of the information. It’s about the quality of the information. It is also the content of the information and the manner in which it is given. Consumers evaluate a company’s transparency in terms of access to its values, policies and practices, and the openness of communication between a company and its customers.

“Transparency is more than enabling a moral evaluation of trustworthiness for brands; it is a way for companies to reveal details about production and sourcing that enable consumers to find higher-quality distinctions otherwise concealed in conventionally marketed branded commodities,” says Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group.

While it’s rarely a primary driver of purchase, transparency attributes on a product can potentially settle a competitive draw in otherwise identical products where what is being communicated makes sense. The strongest transparency attribute today made on packaging in terms of relevance to consumers is “how it was made.”

This is huge for dairy’s goodness. Let’s get louder and tell our story. 

Separately, interested in learning more about formulating high-quality dairy and non-dairy frozen desserts? Plan to attend Session 26 “It’s a New Day in Frozen Desserts: Decode the Latest Healthy Snack Channel Through Robust, Value Added Formulation” at IFT18, the annual scientific meeting and exhibition of the Institute of Food Technologists, which will take place July 15 to 18 in Chicago. Link HERE for more information.

The session takes place Monday, July 16, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm (room N427D). Speakers will focus on formulating value- and nutrition-added frozen desserts, including new sensory evaluation research for these on-trend innovations. A variety of functional ingredients will also be discussed, from stabilization to new technologies in reducing added sugars to protein and fruit and vegetable sources. Manufacturing experts will also discuss formulation and processing challenges.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=texture

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Next Generation Coffee-Dairy Products

Photo source: Starbucks

Now that spring has finally arrived in Chicago, I find myself taking afternoon walks to Starbucks for a little pick-me-up beverage. I most recently enjoyed the Cold Foam Cascara Nitro Cold Brew, which uses velvety Nitro Cold Brew without ice (but I had a few cubes added, as I was walking, and the sun was warm). It was topped with subtly sweet cascara cold foam and cascara topping.

Wow! Talk about a smooth coffee drink. This is the quality consumers are starting to expect in the ready-to-drink sector. From the coffee to the froth, this beverage satisfied, and a grande was a mere 80 calories!

While rich, steamed milk foam has been a hallmark of Starbucks coffee, cold foam is a modern twist designed to be the perfect finish to cold beverages. Frothed cold instead of hot by blending nonfat milk until it is smooth, the foam provides layers of creamy texture and flavor without the milkfat.

Oh, and if you are wondering what cascara is, it happens to be one of the hottest ingredients being added to coffee beverages.  utm_source=BerryonDairy&utm_medium=728x90&utm_campaign=SynergyPureColdBrewCoffee&utm  _content=AnimatedBanner

Stumptown Coffee Roasters provides this description for cascara:

Coffee beans are the seed of a fruit, commonly referred to as a coffee cherry. This small, fleshy fruit can vary in color based on its variety, but is most often yellow or red when ripe. The cherry itself contains caffeine (that’s how coffee gets its caffeine) and is high in antioxidants. The fruit protects its seeds as they grow and develop by deterring insects and other wildlife that could prevent the development of the seed.

The process of pulping removes the seed from its cherry. When the seeds are roasted, you get coffee. But what happens to the cherries that worked so hard to protect those coffee beans? Typically, the cherry is discarded once it is separated from the seed. In some cases, coffee cherries can be turned into compost and used on the farm as fertilizer.

Now it’s being used in coffee beverages for extra caffeine and a layer of flavor. It is often described as having a sweet, fruity taste with notes of rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, red current, mango or even tobacco. It’s delicious.

There have been a number of premium innovations in the ready-to-drink coffee-milk category around the world. Many provide added value in terms of nutrition. 

Some include cascara, such as SlimFast’s new SlimCafé, which comes in Mocha Macchiato and Caramel Cappuccino flavors. Crafted from real brewed coffee and milk, these rich and creamy iced beverages are a true indulgence. SlimCafé offers consumers a smarter creamy coffee choice, with a boost of natural energy. It has zero added sugar and 82% less sugar than many other coffeehouse beverages. And with 10 grams of protein (from reduced fat milk and milk protein concentrate) and only 120 calories, SlimCafé is a smart snack that can be enjoyed while following the clinically proven SlimFast Plan…or not.

“Whether you’re simply watching your calories or trying to lose weight, one thing we know for sure is people never want to give up their coffee,” says SlimFast CEO Chris Tisi. “We set out to find a way to give people that delicious, decadent flavor they expect from a latte, without all of the sugar and calories.”

A decadent innovation comes from Coca-Cola South Pacific, which has launched a new dessert-inspired flavored coffee-milk range to the Australian market. Sold under the Barista Bros banner, new Café Creations line comes in Butterscotch Brownie, Dark Chocolate Fudge and Toffee Almond Panna Cotta flavors.

Coca-Cola says it launched Café Creations to attract new male and female consumers to the flavored milk category. The rollout comes after the successful introduction of Barista Bros Mocha chocolate-flavored coffee in 2017.

Earlier this week I featured JoeFroyo as a Daily Dose of Dairy. JoeFroyo Functional Cold Brew combines the kick of caffeine from cold brew coffee with probiotics and protein from drinkable yogurt. Free from artificial colors and sweeteners, and containing no lactose, gluten or preservatives, the drink is fortified with milk protein isolate and whey in order to deliver 15 grams of dairy proteins per 12-ounce bottle. The refrigerated drink uses high-pressure processing to extend shelf-life without relying on chemical preservatives.

“The functional beverage market is seeing exponential growth right now, but wherever we looked, we could see drinks that sacrificed taste for benefits or benefits for taste,” says Zach Miller, president and CEO. “With JoeFroyo, we tried to create a functional beverage that checked all the boxes. It’s full of long-lasting energy, natural health benefits and we never compromise on great taste.”

A 12-ounce ready-to-drink bottle contains 270 to 290 calories, 3 to 4 grams of fat, 27 to 28 grams of sugar, and 15 to 16 grams of protein, depending on variety, of which there are three. They are: Espresso, Latte and Mocha flavors.

And though this next beverage innovation does not contain dairy, it shows you the sophistication of ready-to-drink cold-brew coffee.

7-Eleven is rolling out Fizzics Sparkling Cold Brew Coffee in the first self-chilling cans available to the public in the U.S. The innovative Chill-Can technology filled with the Fizzics coffee drink is being tested at 15 Los Angeles-area 7-Eleven stores. The beverage comes in Regular, French Vanilla and Caramel flavors. It is made with 100% Arabica beans and all natural flavors, with each 8.4-ounce can of the fizzy brew containing only 50 calories, 10 grams of sugar and about 80 milligrams of caffeine.

The Chill-Can containers are purchased at ambient temperature and chilled when ready to consume. When activated, the patented technology utilizes reclaimed carbon dioxide and the process automatically chills the can and the sparkling coffee beverage inside.

“Because the self-chilling can technology is so groundbreaking, we wanted to introduce it with a super innovative beverage,” says Tim Cogil, 7-Eleven director of private brands. “Sparkling coffee sodas met all the criteria. Previously available in some coffee shops, a handful of exclusive canned carbonated brews began showing up last summer. Fizzics will be the first that can be chilled on demand, bringing a new level of convenience to customers who want to enjoy a chilled drink whenever and wherever they are.”

Remember, cold-brew coffee is not limited to beverages. Tillamook recently teamed up with Stumptown to offer Tillamook Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee Whole Milk Farmstyle Greek Yogurt. The new variety is one of four new Greek yogurt flavors that Tillamook is introducing this year. The collaboration with Stumptown is the second from the two powerhouse brands. The partners also introduced a cold brew coffee ice cream in 2016.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the moms out there. I hope you are served a delicious coffee-milk beverage in bed!  utm_source=BerryonDairy&utm_medium=728x90&utm_campaign=SynergyPureColdBrewCoffee&utm  _content=AnimatedBanner