Friday, March 15, 2019

Expo West 2019: Probiotics Are Alive and Thriving; Make Sure Your Dairy Products Deliver

I’m still digesting everything learned at Expo West, and then mix in the education gained at the Research Chef Association’s conference this week, one would think I’d be popping antacids. Seriously. Thankfully probiotics are a regular part of my daily diet.

For obvious reasons, I consume probiotics through dairy foods. But today’s consumers have many varied food and beverage options. It was less than 10 years ago when dairy owned this space. And while it’s likely too late to lead this functional foods segment, it’s never too late to be part of the digestive health movement.  

To read more about the many probiotic innovations on display at Expo West, link HERE to “Gut feelings flourishing in new product development,” an article published by my colleague Monica Watrous at Food Business News.

These products are right on target with what today’s consumers want from their food and beverage options in their pursuit of health and wellness. More than half of consumers are actively dealing with one or more chronic conditions in their households, according to the Hartman Group, which reports that consumers are treating on average 3.3 conditions while preventing on average 5.2 conditions. Foods and beverages are key remedies for a variety of conditions, not just lifestyle conditions like weight and blood pressure. The research firm reports that consumers use food and beverage to treat/prevent an average of 2.7 conditions.

The Hartman Group’s Health + Wellness 2017 report showed 36% of consumers are treating or preventing digestive irregularity, with more than two out of five (43%) doing so through food and beverage choices. This includes probiotics and the prebiotic fibers that fuel these beneficial microorganisms.

On March 4, 2019, the scientific journal Nutrients published a study investigating “Human Gut Microbiome Response Induced by Fermented Dairy Product Intake in Healthy Volunteers.” Results showed that consuming fermented dairy products fortified with probiotic microorganisms can cause rapid positive changes in the gut microbiome. The findings suggest that a single month of fermented dairy product consumption can significantly shift microbial composition and function, which may benefit overall health.

The researchers used microbiome analysis to characterize changes in gut microbiota composition after 30 days of oral intake of a yogurt fortified with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12. Gene sequencing was used to assess the gut microbial composition before and after fermented dairy product consumption in healthy adults (n = 150). Paired comparison of gut microbial content demonstrated an increase in presence of potentially beneficial bacteria, particularly of the Bifidobacterium genus. At a functional level, an increased capacity to metabolize lactose and synthesize amino acids was also observed, accompanied by a lowered potential for synthesis of lipopolysaccharides.

While the extent and details of the possible impact of fermented dairy product consumption on gut microflora varies across individuals, this research may prove to be useful in the growing field of personalized nutrition, helping keep dairy foods in the forefront. The researchers, however, do note that further research is warranted to confirm any potential lasting impact on microbiota.

It’s no wonder that Packaged Facts’ 2019 U.S. Food Outlook identifies several key disruptive trends to watch for this year. One of the top-four is gut health.

“As consumers increasingly focus on digestive issues and increasing gut health, they have gravitated to fermented and probiotic-rich foods and beverages, like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and kimchi,” says David Sprinkle, research director and publisher. He cites cereal as an up-and-coming probiotic category.

Kellogg’s recent HI! Happy Inside cereal, for example, promotes digestive wellness with prebiotics, probiotics and fiber. The cereal contains one billion live probiotics from active strains, 2. 5 grams of prebiotics, and 8 to 9 grams of fiber. Available in three flavors, HI! Happy Inside cereal is a blend of fruit, yogurt pieces and 100% whole grains.

One of the biggest opportunities for probiotics, according to Packaged Facts, is ice cream. Sprinkle says that new products will be “pushing bounds of healthier indulgence, such as functional benefits from healthy fats, antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics.”
And it’s already being done.

Unilever now offers Culture Republick. This new ice cream brand with probiotics is on a mission to support culture both inside and out. The inside support comes from the three billion live active cultures in each pint, along with 16 to 18 grams of protein, 11 to 12 grams of fiber and no artificial sweeteners. Culture Republick is currently available in seven unique flavors in creatively designed containers. That’s where the outside element of culture comes into play. The brand collaborated with emerging artists to design the pints, with 10% of the brand’s profits going to support the arts in local communities.
“Culture Republick was created with a distinct purpose in mind,” says Leslie Miller, marketing director of ice cream at Unilever. “We believe that humanity could use a bit more brightness. By combining our passions for culture and ice cream, we intend to do our part in making people feel more balanced, inspired and connected.”

To read more about the business model for Culture Republick, link HERE to another Food Business News article.

There’s now another probiotic ice cream ready for market. JoeFroyo is rolling out Crema Smart. The new lactose-free line of 14-ounce containers of ice cream contain a nutritional boost of prebiotics, six live and active probiotics, and protein. Eliminating lactose makes this a gut-friendly product for those with lactose sensitivities.

The ice cream features a proprietary natural dairy sweetener called Crema Sweet, which is hydrolyzed lactose. This equates to glucose and galactose, which is sweeter than lactose. This lactose-free milk sugar is said to be easily metabolized without spiking insulin levels, all at one-third the calories of sucrose. The company adds lactase to break down all remaining milk sugar.

“We believe milk is the original clean-label beverage and have taken an intelligent approach to improving dairy in our Crema Smart line of products, allowing people to return to real dairy without the discomfort of lactose,” says Zach Miller, founder.

The ice cream is made with the same gently pasteurized milk that goes into JoeFroyo’s Functional Cold Brew. This refrigerated beverage combines the kick of caffeine from cold brew coffee with probiotics and protein from drinkable yogurt. Featuring 15 grams of natural protein per 12-ounce serving and six live and active probiotic cultures, JoeFroyo adds valuable health benefits from dairy, all while remaining 100% lactose free.

JoeFroyo Functional Cold Brew uses high-pressure processing to extend shelf life. It has no impact on the viability of probiotic cultures.

The company also is rolling outs JoeFroyo Clean Label Creamer. This is the first and only 100% real half-and-half infused with seven probiotic cultures and manufactured using high-pressure processing. The addition of lactase enzyme renders the creamer lactose free.

About a year ago, Kemps, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, introduced Probiotic Milk. The new half-gallon cartons come in fat-free and 2% reduced-fat and contain Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus acidophilus. Carton fronts state: Supports healthy digestion.

The company also offers Live Real Farms Wholesome Smoothie. Made with real yogurt and real fruit, the drinkable cultured dairy beverage is loaded with probiotics and contains no added sugars, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
Springfield Creamery used Expo West to promote its new Organic 100% Grass-Fed Yogurts sold under the Nancy’s Probiotic brand. These rich, cream-on-top-style yogurts are made with milk from grass-fed cows who enjoy a diet of organic grass and no grains, yielding milk that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. Nancy’s sources the milk from organic family-owned farms, all within 60 miles of Springfield Creamery. Like all other Nancy’s yogurts, these 100% Grass-Fed Yogurts contain live probiotics, including strains delivered at therapeutic levels to help support immune and digestive health.

Springfield Creamery first added live, beneficial probiotics more than 48 years ago, and the company has led the growing probiotic revolution ever since. These grass-fed yogurts contain 41 billion colony forming units of live probiotics per 6-ounce serving at the time of expiration.

“Cows who eat a fully grass diet, including alfalfa, clover and other forages, produce milk with added nutritional benefits. This is due to the direct relationship between what cows eat and the levels of beneficial fatty acids in their milk. In other words, when cows eat well, so do we,” says Sheryl Kesey Thompson, co-owner and vice president of marketing. “With many choices in the yogurt aisle, we wanted to offer our customers a 100% grass-fed, organic option with the high probiotic counts they have come to expect from Nancy’s products.”

Also making its debut at Expo West was Brainiac Kids. Developed and marketed by Ingenuity Brands, a company dedicated to food-based brain nutrition, this is the first line of kids’ yogurts specifically targeted to help their developing brains. Brainiac Kids yogurts are made with whole milk and enhanced with the company’s proprietary BrainPack, a unique blend of brain-building nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, both DHA and ALA; choline; and three strains of live and active probiotic cultures.

New Stonyfield Organic YoBaby Veggie yogurts are made with whole milk and intended for children between six months and two years old. YoBaby Veggie comes in Purple Carrot and Sweet Potato varieties. A single 4-ounce cup contains 80 calories, 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of total sugar, all of which are inherent to the milk and vegetable, as the yogurt contains no added sweeteners. The yogurts are also loaded with probiotic cultures with digestive health benefits. The brand is also growing its kids’ Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches with Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Blueberry Apple Carrot varieties.

Pillars Yogurt is introducing Whole Milk Greek Yogurt Pouches for adults, but kids, of course, are welcome to enjoy them, too. Each of 3.5-ounce recloseable pouches contains 10 grams of protein and a mere 3 grams of sugar—all naturally occurring—along with probiotics and prebiotics. Very soon the company will add product designed specifically for the kids’ market.

Lifeway Foods, the leading U.S. supplier of kefir probiotic dairy products, has partnered with TruFusion Fitness Studios to launch a co-branded probiotic protein smoothie: TruEnergy fueled by Lifeway.

The product was promoted at Expo West, where Lifeway Foods also sponsored the first morning of yoga for expo attendees. While the weather required—for the first time ever—to move early-morning yoga inside, it was still a fabulous experience. Thanks to Julie Smolyansky, Lifeway’s CEO (pictured with me) for this uplifting and energizing annual event.

TruEnergy is an 8-ounce kefir drink that provides the benefits of 21 grams of protein and 12 live and active probiotic cultures. The product is designed as workout recovery refuel beverage.

“It’s an honor to partner with TruFusion to provide their members with a convenient, on-the-go probiotic protein solution that’s formulated to nourish the whole body,” says Smolyansky. “Most protein drinks are only concerned with building muscle. At Lifeway, we know that your gut should be just as strong as your biceps and your quads. We’ve created a fitness drink that serves the whole body, including support for digestion and immunity.”

Make sure you are keeping dairy foods relevant through the inclusion of probiotics.

The Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE will be at ProFood Tech, which will be held March 26-28, 2019, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

At this year’s expo, I will make daily 30-minute presentations featuring 10 to 20 of the most innovative products in a specific dairy product category. There are three presentations and each presentation is offered twice at the show. Each presentation includes products not previously featured in the Daily Dose of Dairy newsletter. Sessions will end with a Q&A.

Here’s the schedule:

Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Frozen Desserts
  • 3/26/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/27/2019 at 1:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Yogurt and Cultured Dairy Foods
  • 3/27/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/28/2019 at 12:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Fluid Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages
  • 3/26/2019 at 1:30 PM and 3/28/2019 at 10:30 AM
Hope to see you there!

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