Friday, November 16, 2018

Six Forward-Thinking Dairy Innovations to Complement 2019 Food Forecasts

It’s that time of year when food industry analysts predict product trends for the coming year. Whole Foods’ list has been garnering the most attention in consumer media, while Mintel, Innova, the Specialty Food Association and others are being picked up by the trade press. I like to analyze the predictions and, after 25-plus years of writing for the dairy industry, share with you the forecasts that are relevant to the dairy processing industry, along with offering up some forward-thinking innovations.

1. Probiotics and Fermented Foods. This past year saw probiotics and fermented foods and beverages go mainstream. Expect more of this, along with more varied applications, as new shelf-stable strains find their way into products merchandised at ambient temperature.

This presents an opportunity for the dairy industry to get aggressive with innovation. For long, many have been asking “what’s the next Greek yogurt?” The answer is probiotic dairy shots. Think Yakult and Activia, and take it to another level. These fermented drinks may be formulated with other value-added ingredients for additional benefits. Think “beauty from within” in a collagen shot. How about a relaxing shot containing dairy bioactives?

2. Healthy Fats and Keto Friendly Foods. The Whole Foods forecasters say fat is back in a big way, and keto diet-friendly foods will be a big call out in 2019. It’s all about fat and protein, and milkfat and dairy proteins make for delicious innovations. When carefully crafted, no-added-sugar claims are possible.

Rebel Creamery offers a premium, high-fat, low-carb, no-sugar-added ice cream. Rebel Ice Cream uses only all-natural, keto-friendly ingredients that won’t raise blood sugar, raise insulin levels or kick you out of a fat-burning state. The focus of this grain-free, gluten-free keto-friendly product is to be very low in net carbohydrates. One pint contains 5 to 8 grams and no added sugars. This is achieved through the use of erythritol, monk fruit and chicory root fiber. Fat is also a priority. The use of cream and egg yolks make Rebel one of the highest fat ice creams in the market. One pint contains 56 to 76 grams. A half-cup serving contains 150 to 200 calories, 14 to 19 grams of fat, 2 to 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 7 to 10 grams of sugar alcohol, and 2 to 3 grams of protein, depending on variety.

SmashPack manufactures Protein Smoothies, a line of all-natural, high-protein and real fruit nutritional snacks that come in spouted squeeze packs. Each shelf-stable pouch is packed with 14 grams of high-quality whey protein, one serving of real fruit, 5 grams of healthy fats and only 180 calories. The company recently reformulated the smoothie snack with medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils, which are trending as one of the hottest health and wellness ingredients for 2019.

MCT oils are healthy fats recognized as optimum fuel sources for both brain and body, and, when part of a high-protein and very-low-sugar product, appeal to the growing number of consumers following a ketogenic diet. They pair great with value-added dairy proteins to make nutritional snacks on target with today’s consumers’ health and wellness goals.

3. Hemp. That’s right, hemp. And why add it to value-added dairy foods? Hemp seed oil is extracted from cannabis plants but it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical responsible for most of cannabis’ psychological effects. The oil is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. It is reported to improve skin, hair and nails; reduce risk of heart disease and cancer; aid in weight loss; lessen inflammation and help with better brain function. And, being an oil, disperses best in a fat-containing system, including dairy.
Evia Yoghurt Company is rolling out Hemp-seed infused yogurt to the Australian market. The new superfood yogurt comes in three new flavors: no-sugar-added Natural, Mango, and Blueberry and Acai.

4. Plant-based evolution. The plant-based movement has been firmly established in consumer eating habits. It’s now evolving as consumers discover what they like, and what they don’t. Plant-based foods are not necessarily vegan and many are designed to have broad appeal to consumers who are intrigued by health benefits and have concerns about how their food is sourced. (Don't forget, hemp is a plant!)

Innovators are creating new product categories and disrupting old ones. The movement is becoming one situated in the larger context of sustainability: intertwined with upcycled products, as more companies turn to root-to-stem ingredients to combat food waste; snacks made from rescued bananas, or flours made with spent grains or pulp, according to the Specialty Food Association.

Think “the blend.” These are burgers, meatballs and other ground meat formats, which, on average, are a 50-50 blend of beef with umami-rich mushrooms. By mixing plant with animal, the nutritional profile of the product is improved and there’s an environmental story with energy, water and land savings.

Dairy blends well with plant-based ingredients, including legumes, fruits and vegetables. Think Darling Foods’ Darling Pickle Dips, a line of refrigerated dips made from a cream cheese and white bean base. The base is blended with pickled vegetables, herbs and spices. The cream cheese gives the dips richness, while the pureed beans provide a slightly chunkier texture than most creamy dips. Each variety has some taste of dill pickle without being overwhelming.

5. Healthy Aging and Edible Beauty. Noted as emerging by last year’s Specialty Food Associations’ Trendspotter panel, collagen is a full-fledged trend in 2019, and part of a bigger move to develop products that promote skin health and appearance, and overall beauty from within.

It’s all about healthy aging. And, adding dairy bioactives back into dairy foods makes sense.

Food and drink will build on today’s dialogue about wellness and transition into more solutions for healthy aging, according to Mintel. Formulations can be developed for people of all ages to efficiently consume vitamins, minerals and other ingredients that are potentially beneficial for bone, joint, immune system, brain health and overall wellbeing. Mintel cites fairlife milk with DHA Omega-3 as an example.

The lines comes in 2% and whole fat formulations. The milk is lactose free and concentrated in protein as a result of being processed using ultrafiltration.

“As a dairy company rooted in innovation, fairlife is dedicated to consistently launching great-tasting products that provide essential nutrients and vitamins. And, as a mother and grandmother of triplets, I understand the health benefits derived from good nutrition and I want nothing more for my family,” says Sue McCloskey, dairy farmer and co-founder of fairlife LLC. “Scientists have linked these fatty acids to a variety of health benefits throughout life, including brain health and health aging. I’m thrilled to say that our new ultra-filtered whole milk option offers 125 milligrams of DHA omega-3 fatty acids in each serving. That’s more than triple the amount found in other DHA-milks.”
Here’s an innovation from abroad. Polish dairy company Bakoma now offers a senior-friendly line of yogurt and yogurt drinks that are lactose-free and enriched with calcium and vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones and support muscle and immune system functioning. Check out that shot-style packaging. That’s what I’m talking about!

Both sets of my grandparents were Polish immigrants. This is not how I remember my busias and dziadzias. Check out this VIDEO.

6. Flavor Adventure. And for goodness sake, if you are going to get creative and push the envelope in terms of dairy innovation, please do not limit flavor offerings to chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Mixed berry is no longer edgy, by the way, and strawberry kiwi is dead. Younger generations—Millennials and Gen Z--have had unprecedented exposure to global culture and cuisine from an early age. They are adventurous and seek experience in their travel and in their food, which has led to a shift in interest to authentic regional fare.

Targeting increasingly adventurous consumers, set on new discoveries and experiences, will be key to developments in the food and beverage industry in 2019, according to Innova. The connected world has led consumers of all ages to become more knowledgeable of other cultures, contributing to 35% growth of “discovery” claims, when comparing 2017 and 2016 new product launch numbers.

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