Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dairy Foods Flavor Forecast 2020

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and marketers.

While the past few years focused on innovation by creating disruption, in other words, thinking way out of the box and shaking things up, we are starting to see innovators regroup and return to the basics with comforting, familiar flavors. There’s enough disruption in the world and consumers are looking for connections. They want a story.

Innova Market Insights ranked storytelling as the number-one trend among its top-10 trends for 2020. Survey findings from Innova show 56% of global consumers say stories around a brand influence their purchase decision. They want authenticity and transparency, and this comes from the story of the company, of the product and even the flavor of the product.

You can read more about storytelling by linking HERE to an article written by my colleague Jeff Gelski at Food Business News.

When it comes to consumers’ evolving preferences in flavors, there are three food and beverage themes I’ve identified for 2020. They are: warm, earthy and nostalgic. These flavors are often recognized as closer to Mother Nature, e.g., minimally processed. Often times the flavors are coming from the addition of whole ingredients.

They are also often less sweet. And with most consumers aware of the health benefits of decreasing sugar intake, less sweet is good.

In many instances, the colors associated with these flavor themes are going to be in the brown, beige and neutral range. Muted shades and pastels will provide subtle bursts. Vibrant blues, purples and reds, along with bright yellows and oranges will be limited to special occasion foods and beverages, such as confections and cocktails. (And, of course, some ice creams and even kid-focused yogurts.)

Oats speak to all three themes. And while oat beverages are currently dominating headlines, expect to see oats being used to flavor dairy foods. Think clusters, crumbles, cobbler and cookie pieces. Think oatmeal.

Along with rolling out a range of oat drinks and fermented oat blends—both free of dairy—Chobani is also introducing Chobani Greek Yogurt with Oatmeal. This wholesome, hearty product line pairs the nutrient density and probiotic benefits of traditional Greek yogurt with satisfying whole grain oatmeal, offering 4 grams of fiber per cup. Varieties are: Apple Spice Greek Yogurt with Brown Sugar Oatmeal, Blueberry Greek Yogurt with Maple Oatmeal, Banana Greek Yogurt with Maple Oatmeal, and Peach Greek Yogurt with Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

One of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ limited-edition fall flavors was Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. It was house-baked, brown sugar-laden oatmeal raisin cookie pieces in cinnamon-spiked ice cream.

Previously the 70-year-old artisan ice cream maker offers Winter Pear Crisp, which blended a delicate purée of D’Anjou pears with a swirl of homemade pear jam and crispy oatmeal crumbles.

Trending brown flavors are those that go well with oats. Think Stroopwafels and S’mores. This includes brown sugar, caramel, graham, honey, maple and molasses.

Fruits that complement brown flavors will be big in 2020. Think apples, bananas, coconuts, peaches and pineapples. Nuts and warming spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, will often provide an additional layer of flavor into these fruit systems.

Herbs and spices have become common flavoring elements in beverages, and drinkable dairy products are no exception. Expect to see more calming lavender, gut healthy ginger and powerhouse turmeric in drinkable yogurts and cultured dairy foods. They often contribute to the product’s health and wellness positioning.

All types of tea are finding their way into dairy foods. Sometimes it’s as a latte or other drinkable concept, other times it’s in ice cream. The reason is two-fold. First, tea is associated with many Asian ethnicities and regional Asian cuisine is on fire in foodservice. Second, consumers are embracing the healthful aspects of consuming tea antioxidants. This is particularly true of matcha, which has an earthy, slightly bitter flavor. Matcha is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It’s loaded with health and wellness compounds.

New Good Culture Wellness Probiotic Gut Shots complement many of these flavor trends. The gut shots start with a base of pasture-raised kefir that supports digestive health and boosts immunity, while rebalancing gut flora and improving digestion. The 50 billion live and active cultures are what give Good Culture’s kefir its gut-friendly strength. The shots are lightly sweetened with sweet potato juice and coconut sugar (lower glycemic index) and contain no synthetic hormones, preservatives, gums, nor anything artificial.

The four varieties are: Chai + Matcha to create calm, focused energy for mind and body; Chocolate + Chaga to boost energy and deepen immunity; Pineapple + Turmeric to support brain function and joint health; and Vanilla + Collagen to strengthen hair, skin and nail health.

Peanut Butter--crunchy or creamy--has always been a popular flavor in ice cream, but usually paired with chocolate. Now it’s coming out on its own or with other brown foods, namely banana, coconut and yes, peaches.

This past summer, Chobani made nut butter the star in a new line of nut butter on the bottom Greek yogurts. The dairy and plant-protein snack comes in five flavor combinations. They are: Chocolate Greek Yogurt with Hazelnut Butter, Honey Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter, Plain Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter, Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter and Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Cashew Butter.

Cheese ingredients are trending, too. Think goat cheese and honey swirled ice cream or mascarpone cheese tiramisu clusters in a dual-compartment yogurt. Cheese is comforting. It’s warm, earthy and nostalgic.

Dairy foods, in general, are comforting. They are warm, earthy and nostalgic. Let’s make 2020 the year of dairy.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently launched its third annual IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. This is an innovation pitch to help emerging and investment-ready food start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators gain visibility and make strategic connections to help advance the science of food and its positive impact on the sustainability of the global food supply. Link HERE for more information and an application to participate. Enrollment continues through January 9, 2020.

Throughout the competition, finalists are selected in two stages, with six finalists chosen to participate in a six-week mentoring program where they receive guidance from business experts. From there, finalists are selected to present their innovations in a high-profile pitch competition at IFT20 in Chicago on July 14, 2020. A panel of prestigious judges representing influential sectors of the food and related industries will select the recipient of the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize. IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge session attendees at IFT20 will be asked to select an IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor People’s Choice awardee for a cash prize of $5,000. In addition to the cash prizes, other services and products for entrepreneurial advancement will also be included.
IFT20 is an annual event hosted by IFT that brings more than 17,000 science of food professionals together--including scientists, researchers, academics, ingredient, technology and manufacturing companies--with the intention to inspire and transform collective knowledge into innovative solutions that help advance our planet’s food safety, nutrition and sustainability.

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