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.