Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovations: Five Opportunities for Dairy Foods Innovating and Marketing in 2018

Photo source: DMK Group

Happy New Year!

Love. Peace. Hope. My personal mantra for 2018.

Professionally, let’s commit to make 2018 dairy’s best year ever by working together to promote dairy’s deliciousness, wholesomeness and nutritional superiority. Let’s never forget that when the dairy industry works together we become stronger and have a more believable message. Competition keeps us motivated. It’s time to embrace the current food and beverage landscape with a unified positive dairy message.

Here are five suggestions to include in your innovation and marketing plans of dairy foods this coming year.

1. Qualify the protein. It’s time to not just flag protein content but flag that it's dairy/milk/whey protein. Talk about the quality and complete amino acid profile. Why? Well, I have to say, watch what you ask for. Many non-dairy/dairy alternative/nut juice product marketers are no longer using the word milk on their products because they’ve discovered more powerful words: plant based.
The Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel identified plant-based foods as the hottest food trend in 2018. Consumers have been hearing and reading nutritional advice to have a more plant based diet, and as a result shoppers are gravitating to alternative dairy products because they are “plant based.” Let’s not waste time trying to dispute this message, rather, let’s explain why dairy protein is superior to plant protein.

MOPRO Nutrition does a great job of doing this. This cultured dairy product, which is making its debut in a vanilla flavor, is made with only six ingredients. They are: whole milk, whey protein isolate, soy lecithin, organic blue agave syrup, vanilla extract, and live and active cultures, including probiotics.

A 5.3-ounce cup contains 24 grams of total protein. The majority (13 grams) of this comes from cross-flow microfiltration (CFM) whey protein isolate. The other 11 grams is inherent to the yogurt. CFM is a proprietary membrane technique used to yield a highly pure, nutritionally superior and undenatured whey protein isolate.

Each container also has 3 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are essential nutrients that the body obtains from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products and legumes. They include leucine, isoleucine and valine. “Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids. There is research that indicates BCAAs promote muscle synthesis and increase muscle growth over time as well as help with fatigue from athletic training.

A container of MOPRO has 250 calories, 13 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar, of which 1 gram is classified as added sugar. All of the ingredients in this gluten-free product are non-GMO. And it’s delicious. (Congrats Michael!)

2.  Probiotics and prebiotics need to take center stage. Consumers historically have associated probiotics with yogurt and other fermented dairy foods. This has evolved over the past decade as scientists gained a better understanding of how these microorganisms survive, thrive and exert health benefits on the host. Researchers also continue to learn how prebiotics, which are fuel for probiotics, selectively influence probiotic activity in the gut. Together, probiotics and prebiotics are recognized as a natural solution for overall wellness, as research suggests the gastrointestinal system is at the center of metabolic health and disease prevention.

Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults seek out foods and beverages with high amounts of probiotics or prebiotics, according to a 2017 national consumer survey conducted by Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. This interest is motivating innovation in the food and beverage industry.

From April 2016 to April 2017, nearly 2% of new food and beverage products globally contained probiotics, rising to 3% in the U.S. market, according to Innova Market Insights. The number of probiotic product introductions globally grew from less than 100 in 2002 to nearly 1,800 in 2016, with U.S. by far the leading market, followed by the U.K. and Canada. Cup yogurt, drinkable yogurt and similar beverages, infant products, and sports powders are the top probiotic food and beverage categories globally. It’s time to better market the inclusion of probiotics and prebiotics in dairy foods. Those plant-based food and beverage marketers are doing it.

To read more about next-generation probiotics and prebiotics, link HERE to a special report I recently wrote for Food Business News.

3. Make dairy foods more accessible. Fruit and granola parfaits at Starbucks and single-serve bottles of milk at McDonald’s are not enough. It’s time to brainstorm with local retailers and foodservice operators to identify ways to make dairy foods more accessible. The plant people are doing it.

Just this week I received a press release from Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a leading global hotel management company, about the launch of 27 new vegetarian and vegan culinary menu items for its managed hotels.

“We recognized a shift in the growing demand of consumers craving healthier options and it is our job to cater to the desires of our guests and meeting attendees,” said Interstates Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations Bradley Moore. “There is a clear need to offer plant-based menu items and we are thrilled about the quality, variety and benefits our hotels will be able to provide to travelers seeking healthy alternatives while on the road.”

I bet these travelers would buy more dairy-based snack and on-the-go foods if they were made accessible.

A few months ago I reported on what DMK Group, Germany’s largest dairy cooperative, is doing to shake up the convenience market. This innovation is the Milram to-go concept “Frischer Genuss.” Way to go DMK (Hi Oliver!)

The assortment consists of three products: quark-creme, classic rice pudding and skyr. Each Milram-branded 185-gram clear plastic cup is filled half way with one of the products. The cups are sealed to maintain freshness for about three-weeks. Retailers, or foodservice operators, receive the sealed cups, along with dome lids and sealing tape, so they can turn the product into fresh parfaits with fruits, nuts, granola, etc., on an as-needed basis. This decreases waste in terms of on-site scooping of product into cups as well as reduced shelf life because of opened perishability.

“Ready-to-eat snacks with fresh ingredients are totally on-trend. Consumers expect ultra-fresh products with a hand-made character in this segment,” says Matthias Rensch, chief operating officer at DMK Brand. “With Milram Frischer Genuss, our retail partners can respond to their customers’ continuing demand from now on and give sales an added boost. The new to-go concept combines ultra-fresh convenience with well-known brand quality and minimal handling.”

My Dutch friends at De Zuivelmakers (Hi Niels!) have been very aggressive in their efforts to offer fresh dairy to on-the-go consumers. Congrats. Most recently they debuted a yogurt bar concept, which is now in more than 150 stores--both foodservice and retail--around the Benelux. This VIDEO shows you what the yogurt bar is all about.

4. Be transparent in your process. I just submitted a beverages trends special report to Food Business News. It publishes next week. When conducting my research, numerous beverage processors emphasized that consumers want transparency in their beverage brands. They want clean label with minimal ingredients, and minimal processing is also being marketed to the consumer. Think “cold brew,” “cold press” and “high-pressure processing.” One juice beverage marketer said that 2018 will be the year that the relevancy of processing becomes mainstream.

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

In 2018, commit to clean label and clean process. The two are the perfect marriage. And the dairy industry is well poised to be a leader in the clean-food movement. Today’s shoppers want to understand how their food was made. Tell them. Engage them.

5. Protect your product. Part of that transparency in ingredients and process includes the steps you take to ensure food safety. Further, new portable formats require special attention to food safety, as exposure to the elements exposes product to contamination.

Protect. Promote. Protein. Probiotics. Portability.
Love. Peace. Hope.

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