I hope that you, your team and all of your families are staying healthy, safe and sane. Thank you to all the dairy farmers, haulers, processors, distributors, retailers and innovators…for your time and energy to keep refrigerators—and freezers (ice cream is quite comforting)--stocked. Please be smart. Stay active. Eat healthy. Keep clean. Be kind. We can do this. Xo
This coming week would have been the International Dairy Foods Association’s Ice Cream Technology conference, which was running concurrently with the new Yogurt & Cultured Innovation conference, in Miami. The event is currently postponed for a later date and I do plan to kick off the meetings with a joint session on “Staying Relevant Without Succumbing to a Fad: The Past 20 Years in Review.” While the content remains important, I can tell you for the time being, put all your market research to the side and start thinking of flavor innovation to help the world heal.
Here are some words of inspiration from Müller in the U.K.
“Dairy is the cornerstone of Britain’s food industry, so our products and supply chain have a major role to play in helping to feed the nation,” said Bergen Merey, chief executive officer. “This is no longer simply a duty. This is now an obligation.”
Indeed, the global dairy industry has an obligation to feed the world. And consumers are embracing dairy nutrition and deliciousness. After we recover, consumers will hopefully continue to appreciate the products that got them through tough times. This includes ice cream.
The ice cream category has gone through some interesting times the past few years. We’ve seen the rise and decline of many first-generation high-protein, low-calorie products. More recent entries have placed a greater emphasis on total nutrition profile and have made inclusions a priority.
New processing and ingredient technologies are making these better-for-you options possible. Use of ultrafiltered milk, and a blend of high-intensity sweeteners, with the newest one—allulose—resulting in premium products with improved nutrition.
The biggest brand to enter the ice cream space is Fairlife. Non-fat ultrafiltered milk is the first ingredient, followed by cream. Whey protein and egg yolk give the ice cream a protein boost, providing 9 grams per two-thirds cup serving, or 23 grams per container. It’s sweetened with cane sugar, allulose and monkfruit extract, allowing for a “40% less sugar than traditional ice cream” claim. It does not contain sugar alcohols. Lactase enzyme allows for a lactose-free claim. The light ice cream gets an additional nutrition boost with the addition of corn fiber, providing 3 grams per serving.
There are seven flavors. They are: Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Double Fudge Brownie, Java Chip, Mint Chip and Vanilla. A serving contains 140 to 190 calories, and 6 to 11 grams of fat, depending on flavor.
Cloud & Joy is setting itself apart from others by focusing on flavor innovation. The brand is making its debut with four unique varieties, all of which emphasize the low sugar content, and with some varieties, no added sugars. None of them contain sugar alcohols.
The innovative base starts with organic non-fat milk that is combined with various gums and tapioca flour. Sweetness comes from a unique blend of allulose, organic agave inulin fiber, stevia leaf extract, monkfruit and mushroom extract.
Boozy Bee Vanilla is vanilla with bourbon and honey swirls. Cafecito Coffee & Cocoa Nibs is reminiscent of thick, sweet Cuban coffee with added cocoa flakes. Peppermint & Brownies is peppermint ice cream with hazelnut-infused dark chocolate brownies with hazelnut slices. This variety also contains spirulina superfruit for a health benefit. Sea & Smoke Chocolate is dark chocolate ice cream with cherrywood smoke flavor, sea salt and roasted, glazed, salted pecans.
So, what about flavor innovation for post-COVID-19? Based on my 30 years of experience reporting on dairy foods trends, I can confidently state the following three opportunities to assist with fueling your flavor innovation.
1. Flavors should be comforting and reminiscent of calmer times. There’s room for a lot of limited-edition flavor innovation to invite shoppers to explore the frozen dessert case and help raise spirits. Ice cream can do that. I challenge someone to quickly come up with an Easter egg hunt ice cream for family entertainment. Proms and graduations may not be happening. School-centric flavors are appropriate, such as lunchbox PB&J or cafeteria confusion, which might by a monthly mystery flavor? Instead of sharing a dance, enjoy a pint of “stuck on you.” Vacations will be cancelled. How about offering flavors that highlight common family summer destinations? This may include beach themes, amusement parks and how about a tribute to the major metropolitan areas being hit the hardest right now. How about a San Francisco artisan chocolate line, New York City apple pie and Chicago popcorn? Photo source: Parker Products
3. Lastly, expect to see more flavors with benefits. This will include a focus on high-antioxidant fruits, heart-healthy nuts and botanicals, such as chamomile, lavender and green tea. Consumer interest in preventive daily healthcare will likely experience aggressive growth. Add a healthful halo to ice cream to give consumers permission to indulge. Photo source: Parker Products
In closing, please EMAIL me innovation and philanthropic efforts by your company. Remember, we are better together and can learn from each other.
Danone North America has donated $1.5 million to food banks and food rescue organizations. The donation includes support for New York-based City Harvest and Feeding Westchester, and Colorado-based Community Food Share and We Don’t Waste. These are food access organizations in two states where the company has headquarters offices and large employee populations. In addition, the company is offering enhanced benefits for hourly employees who are on the front lines helping ensure that grocery shelves are stocked. This includes approximately 2,600 hourly employees (and their families) working in Danone North America manufacturing plants and warehouses.
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