Friday, January 17, 2020

Make Dairy Special with these Five Opportunities

The Winter Fancy Food Show starts this Sunday. It’s a good reminder of how special dairy foods can be when prepared, packaged, merchandised and marketed as premium products.

Research shows that while white milk consumption is down, sales of specialty dairy products is on the rise. An analysis of activity in the food and beverage marketplace and general consumer trends allowed me to identify the following opportunities to make dairy special.
In no particular order, expect to see robust dairy foods innovations with these five items trending: cream, eggs, oats, nut butters and sweet treats with less sugar.

1. Cream/Coffee Cream/Whipping Cream. All white milk lumped together as a category may be down in sales, but specialty products such as lactose free, higher protein and flavored are doing well. Whole milk, too, is showing positive growth. Fat is back and that is exemplified in the creamer category.

After years of little to no growth, the coffee and tea creamers market is on an upswing, as I recently wrote in an article for Food Business News that can be viewed HERE. Some of this growth correlates to an increase in coffee and tea consumption, especially among millennials who like to customize their beverages. 

The popularity of the keto diet has also been a significant contributor to the popularity of creamer. The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. By eating a lot of fat and few carbohydrates, the body is forced into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This is when the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, with the latter traveling to the brain and fueling the body, the traditional role of glucose obtained from carbohydrates. Burning ketones in place of glucose is associated with weight loss, reduced inflammation, sustained energy and more. Those following a keto diet are drinking creamer like milk.

Expect to see more innovation in the creamer space, which will lead to more premium flavored whole milks, a.k.a. dessert drinks. Just keep the added sugars low and lactose free is a nice call out.

 Source: IRI/DMI custom milk database

2. Eggs. Thanks to national consumer marketing efforts by the American Egg Board, egg consumption is up at both retail and foodservice. Per capita egg consumption has grown by more than a dozen eggs over the last five years, and is nearing 261, the highest in 30 years, according to USDA. And, eggs were recently named one of the fastest growing foods (in annual eatings per capita) by NPD, a global market research firm.

Eggs and dairy foods make a good team. Think snacks packs with cheese and hard-boiled eggs. Think eggnog and frozen custard.

Expect to see more dairy and egg innovation, especially in the beverage space. Prairie Farms now offers drinkable custard in chocolate and sweet cream flavors, with both tasting like melted ice cream. The dairy has also been offering eggnog as seasonal flavor for the spring in addition to the more traditional winter holidays. The nogs and custards are made with classic recipes that blend locally produced milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, with just the right amount of spice.

Zabalatte is a dairy-egg protein beverage ready to enter the market. Inspired by the traditional Italian dessert zabaglione, Zabalatte is a nutrient-dense beverage that serves as an on-the-go breakfast, a mindful snack or simply a delicious treat. The concept comes in three varieties—Blueberry, Coffee Espresso and Orange Cream—with a 12-ounce serving containing 16 grams of high-quality complete protein. For more information, link HERE.

3. Oats. 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.

Land O’Lakes recently introduced Kozy Shack Creamery Oats made with reduced-fat milk and steel-cut oats. The microwavable single-serve oatmeal cups also contains—you guessed it—eggs! The gluten-free product comes in three varieties: Cinnamon, Maple & Brown Sugar, and Original Recipe. The 7-ounce cups are intended to be microwaved for about 1 minute prior to serving, with one serving containing 200 to 210 calories, 4 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 15 to 19 grams of total sugars, and 6 to 7 grams of protein.

The company also has a new dairy-egg rice pudding, which will be featured this week as a Daily Dose of Dairy. Both product lines are part of a collaboration with leading retailers to liven up the dairy department by featuring new, innovative items.

4. Nut Butters. They are showing up everywhere, including with dairy. Chobani, Oikos and siggi’s all are offering yogurts with nut butter. Planet Smoothie is blending almond butter with nonfat yogurt in its new Nuts About Almond Butter smoothies line. The Muscle Up Buttercup smoothie delivers 29 grams of protein in a 22-ounce size. It’s a blend of almond butter, cocoa, bananas, nonfat frozen yogurt, vanilla and whey protein, with a dash of sea salt. The Almond Berry Blast smoothie is blended with almond butter, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, whole grain oats, and vanilla. Finally, for coffee lovers there is the Almond Mocha Jolt smoothie blended with almond butter, coffee, cocoa, bananas, nonfat frozen yogurt and nonfat milk. I challenge someone to turn this into a ready-to-drink concept. Maybe add some egg protein, too.

5. Sweet Treats with Less Sugar. As of January 1, 2020, manufacturers with annual sales of at least $10 million must be using the new updated Nutrition Facts label, which includes a mandatory added sugars line as a subset of total sugars. Smaller companies have an extra year to comply. But…consumers still like their sweet treats. Innovators are challenged with manipulating sweeteners, flavor enhancers and other ingredients to deliver sweet but without all the added sugars. These products will appeal to the four out of five (80%) shoppers who are limiting or avoiding sugars in foods, a figure reported by Washington, D.C.-based International Food Information Council Foundation in its 2019 Food and Health Survey.

Expect to see more dairy foods sweetened with honey or maple syrup, along with increased use of lactase enzyme. Lactase breaks down milk’s inherent sugar—the disaccharide lactose—into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose, which are sweeter tasting than lactose. This process also renders the product lactose free, appealing to the growing number of consumers who avoid dairy because of real or perceived sensitivities to lactose.

Let’s make dairy special! Hope to see many of you at the Winter Fancy Food Show!

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