Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sugar will be a Leading Label Claim on Dairy Foods in 2018

Two weeks into the New Year and I am confident in stating that sugar content will a leading label claim on dairy foods in 2018. If reducing or eliminating added sugar is not a priority for you yet, it’s time to make it one.

HealthFocus International reports that consumers around the world have decreased their use of sugar. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) 2017 Food & Health Survey shows that the majority (76%) of U.S. shoppers are trying to avoid or limit their sugar intake. They are doing so by eliminating certain foods from their diet. Let’s make sure it’s not dairy.

Further, six in 10 consumers view added sugars negatively, according to IFIC research.

The dairy industry, in particular yogurt marketers, are responding. Just look at the new products rolling out to assist consumers with their New Year health and wellness resolutions, which for many is avoiding or limiting sugar intake.

On January 3rd, siggi’s launched 4% No Added Sugar Yogurt. The new yogurt comes in 4.4-ounce flat containers, with a single serving containing 4 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of sugar (from the milk and fruit), and 110 to 120 calories, depending on variety. There are two initial flavors. They are: Banana & Cinnamon and Peach & Mango.

“We have always been at the forefront of reducing sugar in yogurt, and we are constantly pushing ourselves to use even less sugar while still making delicious yogurt with no strange additives,” says Siggi Hilmarsson, founder. “We understand that consumers today more than ever want less sugar. For example, in a recent survey we conducted, over 80% of participants noted that they are actively trying to reduce their sugar consumption. Our hope in launching this no-added-sugar line of skyr is to provide everyone with a tasty new yogurt that takes one step further in sugar reduction. We’re excited about it and hope our fans are too.”

All siggi’s yogurts are made without any artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors. The new product has a suggested retail price of $1.69.

DanoneWave is introducing Happy Family Organics branded yogurt. Happy Baby Organics Whole Milk Yogurt is a “baby’s first” yogurt and is described as the “perfect size for tiny tummies.” With no added sweetener, and enhanced with vitamin D and probiotics, this non GMO-certified yogurt comes in four varieties. They are: Banana & Sweet Potato, Blueberry, Peach & Mango and Plain. The yogurt comes in six packs of 1.76-ounce containers.

There’s also new Happy Tot Whole Milk Yogurt in 4-ounce cups and 3.5-ounce pouches. The cups come in six packs and the pouches in boxes of four. The tot line, designed for toddlers up to three years old, is also void of added sweetener and is enhanced with vitamin D and probiotics. The cups come in Apple & Pear; Apple, Mango & Carrot; and Strawberry, Banana, Oats & Chia varieties. The three pouch flavors are: Apple & Blackberry; Banana, Mango & Spinach; and Strawberry, Banana, Oats & Chia.
General Mills is following suit. The company will soon be rolling out Annie’s Homegrown No Sugar Added Whole Milk Yogurt in pouches. Varieties are: Banana, Blueberry Avocado; Mango Sweet Potato; Peach Pumpkin; and Raspberry, Strawberry Spinach.

Icelandic Provisions, which sweetens its skyr with just a “little bit” of cane sugar, proudly boasts sugar content on front panels of its newly redesigned package. The company has the tagline of “rich in culture, not in sugar.” This month the company is rolling out a Cherry Black Currant variety, which was crafted in partnership with Chef Gunnar Gislason, one of Iceland’s most acclaimed chefs and a pioneer ushering in the Nordic food movement in the U.S. The new flavor combines naturally sweet ripe black cherries with the tart punch of black currant, both of which are commonly found throughout the Nordics.

“Eating skyr with ripe berries is a tradition in Iceland that goes back centuries. For this flavor, we wanted to craft a cherry that was more complex than what Americans currently have access to and pay homage to that Nordic food tradition of being playful in ingredient pairings,” says Chef Gunnar regarding how the flavor was approached.

Here’s what formulators need to address when reducing or eliminating added sugars in dairy foods.

1)    If fruit is part of the product, a higher brix, more premium fruit may be necessary. This will deliver extra natural sweetness to the product.
2)    When you are removing or reducing added sugar, you are decreasing solids. Something needs to be added to replace the bulk in order to maintain desirable texture, mouthfeel and product consistency through shelf life. Clean-label options include everything from organic tapioca starch (used in many of the baby and tot products because tapioca is easy on sensitive tummies) to pectin and locust bean gum. Various fibers are also an option, with some adding natural sweetness.
3)    In frozen desserts, sugar impacts freezing temperature of the mix. Extra stabilization is required when sugar is reduced or removed. Protein helps. That’s the secret to the low-sugar, high-protein frozen dairy desserts in the market.
4)    Lastly, a little all-natural, high-intensity stevia sweetener may just be what the formulation requires to meet the sweet threshold of today’s consumers. Don’t be afraid to try the next-generation of stevia ingredients in the market. 

Now, don’t believe the data that sugar content is important to today’s shoppers? Here’s one of my famous real-life educational encounters that support the data. (Sometimes these scenarios, and they are true, make me feel like I am on a Saturday Night Live skit. It sure makes my job fun!)

The stage: The other day while relaxing at a pedicure salon, I was catching up on my reading of food industry publications. The 40-something woman next to me queried about my profession because of my reading materials. After I explained, here’s how the conversation went down:

“So tell me about fairlife milk. How come it has less sugar?”

“Sure, I would love to explain. It’s really quite simple. Similar to how when all milk is delivered fresh from the farm to the processing plant and gets separated into skim milk and cream, and then the cream gets added back to make products such as 1% low-fat milk and 2% reduced-fat milk, fairlife uses similar separation technology to remove other nutrients, namely lactose, which is milk sugar, and protein. The company then combines the desired amounts of all these milk components to have a product with half the sugar, of which none is lactose, and 50% more protein. It’s a pretty straightforward, yet quite sophisticated system.”

“Well, I was buying unsweetened almond milk because it has no sugar. See, I am trying to cut sugar out of my diet wherever possible so I can still enjoy some dessert and wine, of course. But I don’t really care for almond milk and it also does not have much protein. I’m thinking of switching to fairlife, but it is pricey.”

“It costs more because you are paying for the technology to concentrate the protein and remove sugar. Kool-Aid is cheaper than orange juice, but are you going to serve your family orange Kool-Aid for breakfast?”  

I think I returned her back to milk. (Is that pedicure a business expense???)

Commit to reducing the sugar content of your dairy products in 2018!

Hope to see you in less than two weeks at either Fancy Food in San Fran or Dairy Forum in Palm Springs!

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