Friday, August 7, 2020

Summer Inspiration Series: Mindful Snacking

The “Summer Inspiration Series” of Friday blogs is all about stepping out of our comfort zone in terms of innovation. Why not? We’re already operating in an unprecedented manner. Some blogs may explore new concepts in “other” food and beverage categories and discuss how they may apply to dairy, others may focus on new consumer behaviors and brainstorm on how dairy foods processors may respond in coming months. 

And yes, Cheetos Mac ‘n Cheese is a real thing. It debuts August 8 in single box and cup format exclusively at Walmart stores nationally.

Many of us became grazers before COVID-19. The boundaries had blurred between what constituted a snack and what was a meal. Snacking had become the most significant food and beverage occasion. And, it still is. Dairy processors are wise to develop products that meet this need.   

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently published its 2020 Food & Health Survey, which was conducted between April 8 and April 16, about one month into the COVID-19 mayhem. The survey showed that 85% of Americans have made at least some change in the foods they eat or how they prepare food. 

Among the 85% who have made any change, 60% of Americans report cooking at home more. Respondents also said they are snacking more (32%). Specifically, 41% of respondents under 35 said they are snacking more than normal (compared to 26% of respondents age 50+). Additionally, 41% of parents with children under 18 are snacking more (versus 29% without children).

Consistent with the 2019 IFIC study, one in four (26%) consumers say they snack multiple times a day and another third snack at least daily. Most often, snacking happens because people simply feel hungry or thirsty. The second most common reason is snacks are viewed as a treat. More than a third (38%) of consumers say they at least occasionally replace meals by snacking, with lunch being the meal most often replaced. Another quarter of Americans sometimes skip meals entirely.

The factors that drive food purchasing decisions have remained quite stable over the past decade, according to the IFIC study. Taste and price are not surprisingly still the top factors for decisions; however, when consumers were asked how their decision-making compares, more than half say healthfulness matters more to them now. Specifically, 54% of all consumers and 63% of those age 50+, care more about the healthfulness of their choices than they did in 2010. 

Interestingly, the number of people actively following a diet is up significantly in comparison to 2019: 43% in 2020 versus 8% in 2019 and 36% in 2018. Many of these diets are teaching consumers that not all proteins, fats and carbohydrates are alike. They are becoming more mindful of the composition of foods. 

Carbohydrates, for example, vary in their function. Some provide sustained energy, while others promote fat burning. Some assist with reducing calories, while others support a low-glycemic diet. Some are a source of fiber and assist with gastrointestinal health.  

With COVID-19 now in our lives, snacks that assist with building immunity and staying healthy--physically and mentally—will likely gain momentum. The right carbohydrates may assist. Formulators should be mindful of their ingredient selection. 

Two-thirds of consumers have heard of both mindful eating and intuitive eating, although mindful eating is more known, according to the IFIC survey. Half of Americans stop eating when full and listen to hunger cues for when to eat. Fiber and whole grain carbohydrates are viewed as healthiest and animal protein is up!

Of those consumers looking for health benefits from their food, the top-five benefits they seek are: Weight loss/weight management, energy, digestive health, heart/cardiovascular health and (tied) muscle health/strength and immune function. Improved sleep was new for 2020, ranking sixth. Dairy foods can be formulated to provide all these benefits. I challenge someone to develop a night time snack that relaxes and puts you to sleep. Speaking of snacks…

Snacking Innovation Contest Makes Dairy the Star
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will hold its second dairy product innovation competition: The Real California Milk Snackcelerator. With more than $450,000 in awards, the competition is designed to integrate the flavor and functionality of California dairy into snack formulations that meet the needs of today’s consumers. The goal is to inspire innovation and investment in dairy-based snack products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots between processors, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.

“Dairy and snacking are natural partners. Not only do dairy foods make the perfect snack on their own, the flavor, nutritional profile and functionality of milk and other dairy products as ingredients are hard to duplicate,” says John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “As consumers look for snacking options with natural ingredients that deliver something extra--whether a specific flavor profile or a boost of quality protein or other essential nutrients--product developers appreciate what dairy brings to the table. The goal of this competition is to tap into our global obsession with snacking to inspire new ideas and help clear the hurdles to bringing these products to market.” 

The inaugural Real California Milk Accelerator event in 2019 brought nine innovative fluid milk startup finalists to a live pitch event and built the model for dairy product competitions. The 2019 winner, Bears Nutrition, will launch its ready-to-drink milk-based nutritional shakes for children at retail test markets this fall along with companion “Immunity Nourishment” and “Brain Booster” milk powder-based nutritional shake mixes online. 

Through the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, the CMAB is seeking high-growth potential snack product concepts, with cow’s milk dairy as their first ingredient and making up at least 50% of their formula. The startups will need to commit to producing the product in California, with milk from California dairy farms, should they win the competition. 

Up to eight startups will receive $10,000 worth of support each, to develop an edible prototype, while receiving a suite of resources including graphic design, lab or kitchen time and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging, and distribution experts. They also will receive a business development trip (or virtual equivalent) to tour dairy farms and production facilities and to meet with industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. The winner will receive up to $200,000 worth of additional support to get their new product to market. The value of the competition prize is $450,000. 

Competition rules and application documents are available HERE. The deadline for application is August 28, 2020. 

I encourage you to enter, as I am a judge and I look forward to exploring your innovations. Need some inspiration? Link HERE to a presentation I developed for the contest.  

Got milk? It’s back!
The emergence of milk as a surprising social media superstar of the stay-at-home months inspired MilkPEP--the group that represents America’s milk companies--to bring the iconic got milk? tagline forward on the national stage to a new generation of milk drinkers.

“I’ve been so inspired by how people have creatively embraced milk this year,” says Yin Woon Rani, CEO of MilkPEP. “From whipping Dalgona coffee to running a mile with a glass of milk in-hand, today’s TikTok-ers are finding more ways to connect with milk. All the milk love inspired us to reimagine got milk? for today’s social-first generation.”

Indeed, when Americans were faced with tough times, they bought more milk, and not just during the initial stock up phases of the pandemic. Shoppers have continued to buy milk at rates not seen in years, with milk sales at retail up about 4% year-to-date. Milk is an “essential” for home meals. Parents chose to buy milk because they trust it for its nutrition, versatility and taste. In fact, 72% of moms said that milk was their number-one must-have as the stay-at-home orders hit, above staples like bread, eggs and vegetables, according to MilkPEP/Radius Illumination research among 201 moms between March 17 and April 19, 2020. 

Rooted in social media and influencer content, the new got milk? campaign also includes TV and digital advertising as well as retail partnerships and promotions. Check out the new “What you got? got milk?” video HERE

Know the facts on milk. Watch this VIDEO

“The re-imagination of this iconic campaign embraces an iconic line as a fresh start for our industry,” says Rani. “Our partners at the California Milk Processor Board--creator of the famous got milk? campaign--and the rest of the industry and milk brands across the country are excited to bring got milk? forward, on a national level, to a new generation of milk-lovers.”

Need assistance with sugar reduction? Plan to attend the virtual “REFORMULATE: Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies” conference on September 9. This event has a faculty of scientists and industry experts who will explore next-generation, natural sugar reduction-enabling technologies and ingredients. The goal is to connect with R&D decision-makers across food and beverage to provide actionable insights and approaches to successfully reformulate clean-label, consumer-accepted, taste-first, better-for-you, low- and no-sugar food and beverage products. This event will explore future trends, changing consumer priorities alongside technical, formulation and manufacturing considerations to inform the future of your sugar reduction R&D beyond the use of traditional sweeteners.

Whether you have a product in the market to reformulate or are looking to launch into the growing low- and no-sugar, better-for-you market, this meeting will equip you with the information and partnerships to succeed.

Why This is an Unmissable Event:

  • Discover the changing consumer trends reshaping the food and beverage industry, and identify the actions needed to positively align your products with future consumer purchasing patterns to gain market share and protect the sustainability of future earnings.
  • Determine how to effectively integrate a low- and no-sugar strategy into your current business model by developing a sustainable portfolio and communicating this with the consumer.
  • Navigate and overcome the formulation and manufacturing challenges that can arise when replacing sugar to ensure your products do not compromise on taste, function, stability or caloric density. 
  • Discuss next-generation sugar processing technologies including physical, chemical, enzymatic and microbial methods, to reduce the sugar content of your food and beverage products, beyond the use of traditional sweeteners.
  • Explore the cutting-edge scientific research in the field of sugar consumption and metabolism to inform your future R&D decisions.

Access the full event guide HERE for all details on the agenda.

This conference is being produced by Hanson Wade.

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