Friday, March 8, 2019

Expo West 2019: The Dairy Foods Connection

It’s been great visiting with so many of you at Natural Products Expo West 2019, where there is an estimated 90,000 attendees exploring innovations from more than 3,500 exhibitors, of which 685 are first-time exhibitors. With two days of walking the exhibit halls behind me, I can safely confirm that dairy is alive and thriving among the natural products community. Over the next couple of weeks many of the new dairy products that debuted at Expo will be showcased as a Daily Dose of Dairy. Stay tuned.

For now I would like to share seven observations and seven trendy products to guide your future new product innovation.

1. CBD and Hemp: It was expected that cannabidiol (CBD) products, specifically CBD derived from hemp, as well as hemp products, would be a leading trend at Expo West 2019. Manufacturers did not disappoint. There must be as least 50 CBD extract/hemp extracts on the exhibit floor and probably just as many foods and beverages containing this plant-derived ingredient.

Why this year? The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the farm bill, removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act on Dec. 20, 2018. The law defines hemp as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivates of cannabis that are less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This definition includes commercial consumer products such as tinctures or extracts of any part of the hemp plant, including the leaf or flowering top, and CBD derived from hemp cultivars. Marijuana cultivars of Cannabis sativa are all those that cannot be categorized as hemp.

The new regulations make hemp ingredients eligible for use in food, as well as dietary supplement, cosmetic and personal care products sold in interstate commerce. The FDA’s current position, however, is that CBD may not be added to foods shipped in interstate commerce.

“It’s unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to introduce foods containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived,” according to Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner of FDA, in a Dec. 20, 2018, issued statement. “This is because both CBD and THC are active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs and were the subject of substantial clinical investigations before they were marketed as foods or dietary supplements. Under the FD&C Act, it’s illegal to introduce drug ingredients like these into the food supply or to market them as dietary supplements.”

The agency on Dec. 20 also said it had “no questions” about the GRAS status of hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts), oil and protein powder for use in foods and beverages. Thus, hemp can be added to dairy foods.

In that same Dec. 20 statement, Dr. Gottlieb promised to set up a public meeting in the “near future” for stakeholders in the hemp industry to address various issues, including possibly making hemp-derived CBD a legal food ingredient. With Dr. Gottlieb having resigned on March 5, there’s uncertainty for the near future of CBD as a food ingredient, making the majority of CBD products at Expo West currently illegal in most states. Manufacturers are relying on local regulations to sell product.

One such product is new Honeydrop Cold-Pressed CBD Lemonades, which contain 20 milligrams of premium U.S grown CBD per serving and are sweetened with raw U.S. honey. The new CBD lemonades contain only 4 grams of sugar per bottle and come in three varieties: REVIVE (matcha), RELAX (lemon) and REHAB (turmeric). By the way, sweetening with honey is trending in the natural foods business.

This beverage is also uniquely manufactured using high-pressure processing (HPP). The company chose HPP because it better retains the benefits of CBD, as compared to traditional heat pasteurization, according to the company.  

To read more about “CBD in CPG: Challenges and Opportunities,” link HERE to a timely article written by my colleague Monica Watrous at Food Business News.

2. Keto. Foods designed for the keto diet were also expected to be prominent. Again, exhibitors did not disappoint. Expect to see many new keto dairy products showcased as a Daily Dose of Dairy in the coming weeks.

The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. Dairy, especially high-fat dairy, meat and eggs all have prominent roles in the keto diet and thus are growing the presence of animal-based foods in the natural products industry, which historically has trended to be more plant based. Think fruits, nuts and granola.

Foods for the paleo diet were also prominent at Expo, which unfortunately does not include almost all dairy. The exception is ghee. The paleo diet is all about meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils. Foods to avoid include anything processed, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.
As mentioned, ghee is the exception. Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It originated in India and is now commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Ghee is made from cow or buffalo milk butter. The butter goes through a heating process that removes the milk solids (dairy proteins and lactose). Hence, while the paleo diet is non-dairy, the absence of milk solids makes it an acceptable paleo food, an increasingly popular lifestyle eating regime.

Ghee is associated with ancient Ayurvedic holistic healing practices, which has now evolved into alternative medicine for health and wellness. Ghee is recognized as having anti-inflammatory and digestion-aiding properties, among other benefits, and has become a staple of some low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets, namely keto and paleo.

Artisan honey manufacturer GloryBee now offers GloryBee Brown Butter Honey Ghee. It combines grass-fed brown butter ghee with Pacific Northwest clover blossom honey.

To read more about ghee and explore recent innovations, link HERE to “Ghee is gold in the butter-is-back trend,” an article I recently wrote for Food Business News.

3. Clean Label. It goes without saying that clean label is a must at Natural Products Expo West. A growing number of foods and beverages are emphasizing the naturalness and the minimal number of ingredients in their products. Often times, dairy ingredients are part of the recipe.

New simple-recipe, gluten-free Smartcake relies on eggs, whey protein isolate and a proprietary fiber blend to deliver a nutrient-rich protein snack cake. Erythritol and monkfruit sweeten this zero carbs snack that contains only 38 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

4. Caffeine Energy. Natural energy is all about caffeine. There’s a number of new coffee latte energy beverages. Watch for them as a future Daily Dose of Dairy.

5. Protein. Protein continues to be the dominant call out on most foods and beverages, but there’s a noticeable difference in how protein is marketed. Most plant products highlight that the protein comes from plants, while animal protein use is not called out. This presents an opportunity to better market the complete protein profile of dairy, eggs and meat.

Perfect Bar introduced Perfect Bites refrigerated protein snack that provides 7 grams of protein and contains 20-plus superfood ingredients. Nonfat dry milk and whole egg powder are the primary protein sources.

A number of new pizza products feature vegetable crusts. There’s cauliflower, spinach and broccoli. Most of them rely on real cheese. Plant meets animal. The two make delicious pizza!

6. Digestive Health. A growing number of dairy products are being formulated to be lactose free, while foods made with dairy and dairy ingredients are also making the effort to be lactose free. It’s all about the digestive health movement and shows no signs of subsiding. This is why A2 milk is gaining traction, and had a prominent presence at Expo West 2019. Probiotics and prebiotics are also mainstream.

7. Animal Welfare. In addition to flagging the lack of lactose, dairy foods and dairy ingredients are increasingly being tracked back to the farm and animal welfare practices. Pasture-raised and grass-fed dairy claims give many natural foods consumers the permission they are looking for to keep dairy in the diet.

Good Citizens offers a range of organic whole grain pasta and grass-fed cheese pasta meals.

Bonafide Keto Broth is chicken broth enhanced with grass-fed butter and MCT oil. The no-sugar frozen 8-ounce cups are designed for easy microwaving, with each cup providing 15 grams of fat and 9 to 10 grams of protein.

OK…now back to the Expo floor. Hope to see you soon!

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