Thursday, February 6, 2020

Dairy Drinks Bring High-Quality Protein to the Grab-and-Go Beverage Case. It’s about Time!

Have you visited a Fresh Thyme? The grab-and-go beverage case (at front of store) contains a plethora of drinks, everything from kombucha to coconut water to diet cola. While the store focuses on fresh, natural and better-for-you, it’s not Whole Foods. There’s no forbidden ingredient list. The store caters to its varied customers and tries to offer something for everyone. The consumer is the boss.

There’s room in that beverage case for dairy drinks, not to be confused with flavored milk. (There’s room for that, too.) The dairy drinks that make sense for Fresh Thyme and other smaller specialty food players are those that provide added value in terms of nutrition, energy and health benefits. Functionality is driving beverage growth and dairy can play in this space.

“Our industry is changing and indeed the world is changing,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association, at the Dairy Forum on Jan. 27, 2020.

WE must change with it.
“For businesses and people alike, just the word change can be scary. But call it by another name—innovation—and it becomes exciting and essential,” he said. “Regardless of what we call it, change is necessary. In fact, I’ll make a prediction about the dairy industry: We will see more change in the next five years than anything we’ve experienced over the last 15 years.

“We will continue to see consolidation across our industry and change in the products we make, the way our industry is organized to produce and deliver those products, and we will see more public scrutiny on our industry with changing consumer demands and preferences for our products.” he said.
Change is necessary because we can’t afford to stand still.

“It is time to take charge of our future together rather than allow others to determine it for us,” he said. “Don’t resist change. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen to you. Embrace it. Lead it. The future is in innovation. We must continue to innovate to stay ahead and remain on the consumer’s shopping list.”

He emphasized, as I do again and again: IT’S A GOOD TIME TO BE IN DAIRY!

“Here’s why now is the greatest time to be in dairy—and why everyone in this room deserves credit for our sustained growth,” Dykes said to the packed opening breakfast session at Dairy Forum 2020. “The dairy business in the United States at the consumer level has never been bigger, never been stronger and it continues to grow. Dairy is highly relevant in the marketplace. It is a flexible product able to maintain core attributes of quality, taste, affordability and nutrition—as it evolves with shifting consumer preferences. Dairy consumption is growing around the world, providing us with a significant long-term opportunity as emerging middle classes begin to demand more protein.”

Since the USDA began tracking per capita dairy consumption in the 1970s, the trend has continued upward for five straight decades increasing 22% since 1975. He emphasized that there is a false narrative out there, perpetuated by uninformed media—not me, of course--that the past decade has been bad for dairy. In fact, just the opposite is true.

(Pictured: Michael Dykes, president and CEO, International Dairy Foods Association)

“Overall, total per capita dairy consumption is up 6%. The product mix is, of course, changing,” he said. “Even as beverage milk sales have declined, we have found ways to adapt to evolving consumer preferences, demonstrating that we’re dynamic, innovative and committed to delivering dairy’s essential goodness and powerful nutrition to consumers in all sorts of products and offerings. We are eating more dairy and drinking less.”

Or, if we are drinking it, it’s in new formats with value-added ingredients. It’s not the white jug of the 1900s.

In the past few months, numerous dairy drinks have entered the marketplace. Shamrock Farms, for example, now offers Rockin’ Protein Plus, a ready-to-drink beverage that combines the dual benefits of protein and superfruits with pure, fresh Shamrock Farms milk.

It comes in two smooth flavors--Blueberry Pomegranate and Cherry Crème--each with unique, functional benefits, no added sugars and no lactose. The drinks start with a base of low-fat milk and get a protein boost from milk protein concentrate.

Blueberry Pomegranate is naturally packed with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and support a healthy immune system. It’s an excellent source of protein and vitamins A, C and E. One 12-ounce bottle contains 240 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein.

Cherry Crème is an excellent source of protein and calcium with the added benefit of tart cherries. One bottle contains 35 Montmorency Tart Cherries. Growing evidence supports the science and benefits of tart cherries, including anti-inflammation, exercise recovery and improved sleep. One 12-ounce bottle contains 200 calories, 4 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein.

“Health-conscious consumers are more proactive than ever when it comes to wellness, and that trend continues to drive the demand for functional beverages,” says Ann Ocaña, chief marketing officer for Shamrock Farms. “Rockin’ Protein Plus is an all-in-one option that brings superfruits together with milk, delivering the protein consumers need and flavor they love with the added health benefits they want.”

Coca-Cola is rolling out failife Nutrition Plan. These high-protein, low-sugar nutrition shakes come in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors in 11.5-ounce bottles. Labels emphasize the inclusion of high-quality protein. The drinks are made with ultra-filtered low-fat milk treated with lactase enzyme to ensure the beverage is lactose free. They are sweetened with acesulfame potassium, sucralose, monkfruit extract and stevia, delivering only 2 grams of sugar per serving. With 150 calories, 30 grams of high-quality protein and eight naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, the new shakes complement weight loss and weight management diets, and function as a convenient, on-the-go meal replacement.

SlimFast, the 40-plus years old weight loss brand, is adding 21 new products to its SlimFast Keto lineup, including dairy-based Meal Shakes To-Go. These shelf-stable drinks come in three flavors: Creamy Milk Chocolate, Creamy Mocha Latte and Vanilla Cream. All of the products are formulated on the principles of ketogenic nutrition: high fat, low carbohydrate and moderate protein. This shifts the body’s primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fat, assisting in weight loss.

Each 11-ounce bottle contains 180 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of total sugars, with no added sugars. The beverages are sweetened with sucralose and fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals, truly making them a meal replacement. The protein comes from milk protein concentrate while all of the fat comes from medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which is recognized for assisting with burning body fat.

Keto is hot, which is why the creamer category is booming. To read more, link HERE to the Jan. 17, 2020, blog titled “Make Dairy Special with these Five Opportunities.”

Danone North America is embracing the keto trend with new STōK Cold Brew Fueled Creamers and Ready-to-Drink Coffee. Geared toward those who are looking to jump-start their day, the STōK Fueled line includes extra calories from protein, butter and MCT oil to help fuel up.

Functional coffee is booming. Dairy processors are smart to be in this space.

Offering a delicious, creamy taste, STōK Fueled Cold Brew Ready-to-Drink Unsweet Coffee is available in 48-ounce multi-serve bottles and provides caffeine for quick-start energy, along with energy from 10 grams of dairy protein, 5 grams of MCT oil  from coconut and palm, fat from butter and no added sugars.

STōK Fueled Creamers come in 16-ounce bottles in three flavors: Original, Vanilla and Unsweet. Keto dieters will likely consume the creamer as a beverage or maybe with a splash of coffee, as a 4-tablespoon serving (2 ounces/0.25 cup) contains 5 grams of dairy protein, 5 grams of MCT oil, and butter, for a total of 7 grams of fat.

“At STōK, we are always looking to keep up with the latest food trends and be at the forefront of innovation based on our consumers’ needs,” says Lindsey Morgan, director of marketing. “As functional coffee continues to make headlines, and with the lack of options that deliver on both great taste and convenience, we saw this as an opportunity to provide our coffee lovers with a viable solution that is sure to start their day on the right note.”

Late last year, Danone North America introduced Oikos Pro Fuel, a protein-packed caffeinated dairy beverage. This on-the-go nutrition dairy drink contains 25 grams of protein and 100 milligrams of caffeine per 10-ounce bottle.

Oikos Pro Fuel blurs the lines between a few growing categories, including ready-to-drink coffee beverages and energy drinks, and builds on Oikos Triple Zero’s response to many consumers’ desire for options that are high in protein. It is made with non-fat milk and is rich in nutrients like protein, potassium and calcium, which together help build strong bones and muscles. Each bottle contains caffeine from coffeeberry extract and is equivalent to approximately one cup of coffee. The caffeinated and cultured dairy drink is gluten-free and available in four flavors: Mixed Berry, Peach, Strawberry Banana and Vanilla.

“The energy drink market is a large and growing space with consumers looking for nutritious energy sources to help them focus on their goals,” says Ben Arbib, innovation brand manager for Oikos. “Oikos Pro Fuel delivers protein to help build muscle and caffeine to help you feel alert.”

Quest Nutrition entered the ready-to-drink dairy beverage space last year. Known for its dairy protein-enriched frozen pizzas, tortilla chips and snacks, Quest Nutrition now offers ready-to-drink protein shakes. Available in three flavors—Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Vanilla—the shakes are described as being simply made. They start with a base of water blended with milk protein concentrate. The shakes come in 11-ounce shelf-stable prisma cartons, four to a pack, with one shake containing 160 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of inherent sugar and 30 grams of high-quality dairy protein.

And, of course, kudos to the highly creative team at Live Real Farms, a new brand owned and managed by Dairy Farmers of America, for its Live Real Farms Dairy Plus Milk Blends that rolled out last fall. Using a unique blending process, Live Real Farms takes nature’s pure milk from 100% family-owned farms and blends it with either almonds or oats to create a new milk taste and texture with just the right amount of sweetness. The combination of the flavor of almonds or oats that consumers love with the protein power of dairy will satisfy the demands of families seeking the best of both worlds. The new beverage comes in five lactose-free varieties.

Change is happening. These companies are embracing it.

I second what Dykes said at Dairy Forum: The future will not look like the past, but it’s change we must embrace!

“Much of that change has been caused by shifting consumer preferences,” he said. “Today, it is most important for each of us to understand that we all work for the same boss—the consumer.”

He concluded with these five points:

  1. We must evolve. We all need to embrace an evolution in dairy.
  2. We must take bold risks. That means breaking the mold, embracing new ways of thinking, as well as new people who bring fresh ideas and perspectives.
  3. Look for ways to build coalitions and create new allies to get movement on specific issues, working with consumers, advocates, policymakers, producers and others.
  4. We need to diversify our product array. Let’s not get caught selling roll film 20 years after digital cameras were introduced.
  5. We must work to expand markets here and abroad, from new countries and regions of the world to new communities with specific values and preferences.
To read more about the changes that have taken place the past decade and why the dairy industry has to change to align itself with today’s consumers, link HERE to the Blimling Special Report: A Decade of Disruption.

Sponsor News: Idaho Milk Products has consistently received the highest Safe Quality Food (SQF) rating for dairy food processing for its cream, milk permeate powder and milk protein concentrate, and 2019 was no exception. Idaho Milk Products offers an unsurpassed level of production expertise, quality control and food safety to meet its customers’ most demanding requirements. The company recently received a Best of Class award for its milk protein isolate.

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