Thursday, October 15, 2020

Dairy Foods Trend Alert: Think Long Term and Be Part of the Regenerative Agriculture Movement

Today is World Food Day 2020. It marks the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in an exceptional moment as countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While there are more days than not when I cannot think about tomorrow because it stresses me out, it is essential that dairy foods manufacturers think ahead in order to provide nutrition for an anticipated population of 10 billion by 2050. Global warming is real and it’s impacting agriculture right before our eyes. Some regions are experiencing increased heat and drought, while others have flooding and large, damaging storms. Agricultural lands are at risk with both scenarios, which is why we must do our part to improve the ecosystem. It all comes down to the soil. 

Maple Hill Creamery recently sponsored a media viewing of the new documentary “Kiss The Ground” at a pop-up drive-in theater in Chicago. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film details how regenerative agriculture has the potential to balance the earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and feed the world. 

Dairy cows are an important part of the regenerative agriculture movement. Implementing regenerative practices on dairy farms requires a holistic approach to managing land, cows and manure.

I wrote “The Dirt on Soil and Why it Matters” this past week for Food Business News. I highly encourage you read my column HERE.

I also encourage you to watch “Kiss The Ground,” which is currently available on Netflix. At the very least, please view the trailer HERE.

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic, principles-based approach to farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystem and community resilience. These practices pull carbon from the air and store it in the soil and can help the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. Additionally, regenerative agriculture practices help to increase water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling and reduce soil erosion, which have been shown to positively impact the quality of nearby lakes, rivers and streams. These benefits can translate to farmers’ pocketbooks by ensuring that more nutrients stay in the field to be absorbed by plants rather than lost to wind or water erosion. Regenerative practices on dairy farms can look slightly different than row crop farms, specifically incorporating adaptive grazing on pastures and cropland, according to General Mills, the maker of Yoplait, Liberté and Mountain High yogurt products.

The company is active in this space. In June, General Mills announced the start of a three-year regenerative dairy pilot in Western Michigan, a key sourcing region for its fluid milk supply. This is the third regenerative agriculture pilot that the company has launched--and the first for its dairy ingredient supply--since making a commitment in 2019 to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030.

“In order for regenerative agriculture to be successful, it must first be economically viable for farmers as a lever to help build operational and financial resilience,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer at General Mills. “With this pilot, General Mills is committed to ensuring that the transition to regenerative practices will be beneficial to our dairy partners and enhance the overall health of their farms.”

Maple Hill Creamery is also committed. The company believes in communicating the message that livestock is paramount to the regenerative agriculture movement.

“Healthy soil is the cornerstone of everything we do,” said Carl Gerlach, CEO of Maple Hill. “We work tirelessly within out network of organic 100% grass-fed farmers to develop and implement practices that result in the regeneration of the land through the management of organic grass-fed cows.

“When managed in harmony with nature, grazing cows are one of the most effective tools on earth as far as igniting the life in the soil, which is the foundation of the carbon cycle,” he said. “We believe that 100% grass-fed organic dairy farming done right is the pinnacle of organic and leaves the soil better than we found it.”

This is one of my favorite examples to explain the role of ruminant animals in our food chain:

A stalk of corn provides two to three cobs. Humans can only digest the kernels, and for that matter, not even all of the kernel. The fibrous outer shells of corn kernels pass through the gastrointestinal system undigested due to lack of the necessary digestive enzyme. The rest of that corn plant is useless to humans for energy; however, it’s a meal for ruminant animals such as cows. Cows effectively convert the nutrients in that stalk, husk and cob to meat and milk for human consumption.

A new report from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) explains how for the last half century, U.S. animal agriculture has focused primarily on improving productivity, efficiency and throughput, resulting in increasing supplies of commodities that have helped assure a safe, abundant U.S. food supply and growing export markets. The report shows a pivotal shift in cultural and market expectations for animal protein, and four emerging trends where the industry can innovate. While the report focuses on meat, these trends are relevant to dairy cows as well. They present an opportunity for what I believe will be the next trending dietary lifestyle: the regenerative diet. 

“American consumers have benefitted from the consistent growth in productivity and efficiency, spending less of their disposable income than consumers in any other country on food,” said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “But we’ve reached an inflection point where engaged consumers, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders have new priorities and are asking whether attributes beyond productivity and efficiency deserver greater focus.” 

New trends are accelerating and gaining a foothold, according to members of the CFI Consumer Trusts Insights Council, a collaboration of consumer insights experts, social scientists, researchers and food industry consultants who analyze emerging trends and provide strategic guidance. Technology is front and center, according to the report. A new generation of consumers embraces technology, expects innovation and demands engagement.

“Niche start-ups are speaking the language of a younger demographic that has grown up with smart devices in their hands and in their kitchens,” said Kevin Ryan, founder of Malachite Strategy and a member of the council. “The generation raised on technology expects innovation and an opportunity to engage to ensure their voices are being heard.”   

The research identifies four major opportunities for the animal protein space as indicated by the maturity of demand in the marketplace. Demand for these categories has now moved into the mainstream.

  1. Fresh and high quality. A key opportunity is consumer desire for high-quality animal proteins.
  2. Stretching purchases. Consumers facing financial uncertainty are seeking ways to make protein last longer for their families, which means saving money and making fewer trips to the store. 
  3. Ethically Raised Animals. Consumers continue to express concern about supporting industrial scale farms but they don’t want to give up easy, affordable animal proteins. This means they want easy access and easy to prepare with a solid nutrition profile.  
“This is a great opportunity for dairy farmers to reassure consumers that dairy is part of a socially responsible and healthy diet,” Arnot told the Daily Dose of Dairy in an exclusive interview. “Consumers are looking for permission to believe that dairy farms care about food safety, the treatment of workers, the well-being of animals and the protection of our environment. Sharing dairy’s amazing story is a great way to provide that reassurance.”

        4. Plant-Based Alternatives. Consumers are conflicted. They aren’t impressed with the taste of many plant-based alternatives, even when they’re looking to reduce meat consumption. They prefer the taste and texture of real animal products, but plant-based alternatives are perceived by some as “better for me and better for the planet.” 

“Again, this is a terrific opportunity to tell the story of great-tasting, nutrient-dense dairy products and to link that with dairy’s impressive sustainability story, including the recent commitment to become ‘net-zero’ in carbon emissions,” Arnot said. “So much good work has been done, but there is still a perception that plant-based alternatives are better for the environment.”

It’s time to spread the message about cows and their role in regenerative agriculture. 

Consumers engaging on the topic of animal protein sit squarely in the driver’s seat as the nation continues to adapt to the evolving reality of the pandemic. Already, some innovators are actively working to meet their expectations with products that give consumers permission to enjoy animal protein, said Arnot. 

“Those who follow the lead of consumers, leverage these newly identified opportunities and address the increasing array of complex challenges without sacrificing efficiency will rise to the top as the likely winners,” he said. “And those committed to preserving the status quo will be left behind.”

Dairy products that give consumers permission to enjoy animal protein come in all shapes and sizes. Every single dairy food in the marketplace is inherently nutritious, have it be the protein, the calcium, the potassium or the essential fatty acids, to name a few nutrients, dairy cows and the dairy foods made from their milk present a holistic approach to health and wellness, something that resonates with young consumers. These are your future heads of household, gatekeepers, moms and dads. 

Consumers are expressing a strong belief in the healing power of foods and many are actively using kitchen medicine, both for prevention and for specific medical purposes according to the new 2020 HealthFocus International Kitchen Medicine Report. And it is the younger shoppers that are fueling this growth. They are also interested in the soil and the drivers of the regenerative agriculture. 

The agriculture spectrum has certified regenerative organic farming—the cream of the crop—on the left side of the continuum and conventional agribusiness on the right. Less than 1% of U.S. farms are certified organic and even less are certified regenerative organic. Every improvement away from the right to the left side of the spectrum is a step in the correct direction for our soil. 

This week the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy unveiled the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. This is the initiative that CFI's Arnot refers to.

The initiative is a critical component of U.S. dairy’s environmental stewardship goals, endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers, to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050. This message needs to get to consumers!

“The U.S. dairy community has been working together to provide the world with responsibly produced, nutritious dairy foods,” said Mike Haddad, chairman, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “With the entire dairy community at the table--from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers--we’re leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations.”   

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality: an up to $10 million commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on farms across the country. 

“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA. “Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands. We are excited to collaborate with U.S. dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain.” 

Nestlé is the first of what the U.S. dairy community hopes will be many partners joining the Net Zero Initiative, contributing funding and expertise to help propel the entire industry’s progress toward a more sustainable future. To learn more, link HERE.

Jay Watson, sourcing sustainability engagement manager at General Mills, sums these efforts up well. 

“We believe that regenerative agriculture is an opportunity for both conventional and organic, and everything in between,” said Watson. ““It’s the right thing to do.”


Friday, October 9, 2020

Eliminating Lactose Improves Dairy’s Position in the “Foods for Health” Movement


More than ever, foods need to do more than satisfy appetites. They need to offer legitimate health benefits, according to a new report from Lux Research. 

Dairy foods can do that!

“Whether helping a consumer’s athletic intentions, cognitive performance or another aspect of health maintenance, foods and beverages are more frequently pushing beyond just claiming convenience, enjoyment and satiety,” according to the report. “The beginnings of this concept come from initial efforts to reduce the prevalence of ‘bad’ ingredients in foods and beverages, and as the bar has been raised on the relative healthfulness of all products, developers seeking to stand out from the crowd have turned to not just less ‘bad’ but more ‘good’ in their products. Many are looking to foods as part of their health in an active way, creating an opportunity for food companies to evolve into health companies and vice versa.”

Milk inherently has the “good” and is also the perfect canvas for the addition of even more “good.” For some consumers, the only thing holding them back from consuming dairy foods is the lactose. The solution is to eliminate it. 

Real or perceived, a growing number of consumers claim to be lactose intolerant. As a result, they avoid all dairy products. Processors are discovering that eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose. 

Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking lactose down into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. When lactose does not break down in the small intestine, it passes into the large intestine, where it may cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. 

Real or perceived, a growing number of consumers claim to be lactose intolerant. As a result, they avoid all dairy products. Processors are discovering that eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose. 

Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking lactose down into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. When lactose does not break down in the small intestine, it passes into the large intestine, where it may cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. 

Dairy foods processors can do this for the consumer. It’s easy. Simply add the lactase to the milk during manufacturing. A side perk to this process is that glucose and galactose are sweeter than lactose, and in products such as flavored milk, ice cream and yogurt, an “added-sugar” reduction may be possible. 

Lux Research identified “food for health” as one of six megatrends shaping the food industry as we move out of 2020. In the report titled “The Food Company of 2050,” Lux Research analyzed startup trends, social norms and corporate concerns and was able to outline what food companies must do now to survive and thrive over the next 30 years.

“Food companies will need to adjust and adapt to the six trends in order to truly thrive,” says Thomas Hayes, analyst at Lux Research and report author. “Consumers are increasingly demanding. They are aligning spending habits with health and sustainability. Food companies will need to take some big risks to truly thrive and stay competitive in the long run.” 

Hayes predicts that nearly all products sold will pivot to make health-related claims, with the aim of reducing dependence on medical intervention. Products will also need to pivot to be more sustainable in terms of reducing food waste, working toward decarbonization efforts and providing sustainable packaging.

Lactose-free dairy foods can do all this and more. 

There are a number of lactose-free dairy market research reports in circulation, all of them varying with their forecast on the growth of the global lactose-free dairy products market. But what they all have in common is the expectation that the category will show healthy growth over the next decade. Market experts anticipate that lactose-free dairy products will become more mainstream and show an increase in market penetration due to rising consumer awareness. Product innovation could be key for players, especially individual dairy foods manufacturers. On the whole, lactose-free dairy products are foreseen to make a highly profitable and interesting market in the years ahead.

Promoting digestibility is part of the messaging. This has become easier with the use of high-quality lactase enzyme systems. 

HP Hood produces the Lactaid brand of dairy products. Milk products have been fairing quite well for the brand, even in years past when retail sales of fluid milk were in a downward spiral. That, of course, has changed with the pandemic. For the 52-week period ending July 12, 2020, according to IRI, Lactaid low-fat and skim milk sales were up 10.3% to $463.5 million, while Lactaid whole milk sales increased 19.6%, ringing in at $197.3 million. This is about double the growth experienced last year. The brand can also be found on ice cream, cottage cheese and seasonal eggnog. 

Recently Hood introduced Lactaid Protein Milk, which has 10% more of the Daily Value of protein per serving compared to regular milk. Available in Whole and 2% varieties, the milk is fortified with ultra-filtered skim milk to deliver 13 grams of protein in every 8-ounce serving. Added lactase renders the milk lactose free. It comes in 52-ounce gable-top cartons. 

There clearly is a need for lactose-free milk, which is one of the least tolerated dairy foods by those with lactose sensitivities. That’s because lactose-intolerance symptoms typically occur when the load of lactose is very large and rapidly arrives in the large intestine. Fluid milk is the most concentrated source of lactose.

Most value-added milk brands now include lactose-free options. This includes milks that are organic and higher in protein, with the latter accomplished through either filtration or the addition of milk proteins.

Consumer demand for Darigold FIT milk is growing rapidly. Launched in the Pacific Northwest market in early 2019, FIT doubled its sales and distribution the second half of that first year in market. To support this growth, Darigold Inc., invested $67 million in its Boise, Idaho, facility earlier this year.

FIT was developed in response to consumer trends that demand “better for you” products, which are also delicious and convenient. Using ultrafiltration, FIT is designed to give consumers the taste they want while being lactose free. This is accomplished through the use of ultra-filtered milk and guaranteed by the addition of lactase. This fresh milk has 75% more protein and 40% less sugar compared to traditional milk. 

The line includes 2% Chocolate and 2% White in 59-ounce gable-top cartons and 14-ounce single-serve bottles. There’s also Whole Milk in 59-ounce cartons. 

“FIT was inspired by our farmer owners’ desire to revitalize fluid milk,” says Duane Naluai, senior vice president. “They, more than anyone, know Darigold must provide consumers with new and relevant types of milk that preserve the wholesome and nutritious foundation that makes milk great in the first place. The positive consumer response we have received gives us confidence that FIT is bringing consumers back to fluid dairy.”

The investment in Boise not only expands FIT but also serves as a platform for re-launching other classic Darigold beverages. This investment includes modern aseptic packaging to produce FIT as a shelf-stable product that can be shipped and stored without refrigeration. It will also reduce the company’s environmental footprint as it relates to water use, plastic, corrugated material and overall energy use. The first production run using the shelf-stable packaging will be happening soon.

Anderson Erickson now offers Nourish Lactose-Free Whole and Reduced Fat Milk. The products are all about “nourishing your body and brain,” as they deliver all the inherent nutrition of milk with the added benefits of probiotic cultures. To ensure digestibility, lactase is added to allow for a lactose-free claim. 

Crystal Creamery also added lactose-free milk to its lineup about a year ago. The half-gallon gable-top cartons come in 1%, 2% and Whole varieties. 

Verde Campo markets high-protein Jabuticaba Natural Whey drink, which is made with “skimmed pasteurized milk, whey protein concentrate, lactase enzyme, pectin stabilizer, natural aroma and stevia.” It is 100% natural, lactose free and contains no added sugars. The drink comes in 250-gram and 500-gram bottles in flavors such as Banana, Coconut, Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter, Strawberry, Vanilla and Jabuticaba. Jabuticaba is a typical Brazilian berry that grows on the Plinia cauliflora tree. It has a very dark purple peel, white pulp and a unique sweet flavor. A 250-gram bottle of jabuticaba-flavored Natural Whey contains 14 grams of protein, with 60% being whey proteins and 40% casein. Verde Campo is a Brazilian dairy that was acquired by the Coca-Cola Company in 2016.

Spruce Haven has developed Pursue Happiness Cowffee. This Upstate New York dairy is using a patented feed ingredient to increase the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content of milk by two to three times. This milk is used in its new shelf-stable whole milk cold-brew coffee, a first-of-its-kind beverage that has been in development for nearly four years. One 11-ounce prisma pack provides 120 milligrams of CLA, a naturally occurring component of ruminant milk fat and meat. Consumption by humans is associated with lean-muscle development and fat burning. It also has cancer-fighting properties. The product contains 220 calories and provides 20 grams of protein. The formulation includes lactase, which breaks down the lactose and enhances inherent sweetness. It is only sweetened with 3 grams of pure cane sugar. The coffee is sourced from Fincas Dos Marias, Guatemala, where growers are paid above fair-trade prices. It is roasted in Syracuse, N.Y., and brewed by Peak & Skiff, Lafayette, N.Y. It is a completely traceable supply chain. Spruce Haven was founded in 1987 with 120 cows and 75 heifers. Today the farm has 2,000 cows, 1,850 heifers, and 3,700 acres of crop acres of corn and alfalfa.

Emmi has introduced Energy Milk High Protein Whey to select European markets. The 330-milliliter bottles deliver 30 grams of whey protein, along with 6,800 milligrams of branched-chain amino acids, which assist with recovery and muscle growth after exercise. The milk comes in two flavors: Choco-Hazelnut and Strawberry-Rhubarb. Lactase is added to make the milk lactose free. It’s sweetened by fruit juice and the high-intensity sweeteners cyclamate and acesulfame K.

fairlife now offers failife Nutrition Plan. The 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. Made with ultra-filtered low-fat milk treated with lactase enzyme to ensure the beverage is lactose free, the shakes 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.

The company entered the refrigerated creamer category earlier this year with four varieties--Caramel Coffee, Hazelnut, Sweet Cream and Vanilla--made with the company’s nonfat ultra-filtered milk. Other ingredients include cream, sugar, flavor and lactase enzyme, rendering the creamer lactose free. Touting a 40% reduction in sugar, as compared to other creamers, the product comes in 16-ounce plastic bottles. 
At the beginning of the year, the company was fully acquired by The Coca-Cola Co., which had a minority stake until January 2020. Coca-Cola said fairlife will continue to operate as a standalone business in Chicago. This support is fueling innovation at the company and enabling it to fly out of its comfort zone of fluid dairy. 

For example, the brand is now in the freezer. Ice cream pints come in Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Double Fudge Brownie, Java Chip, Mint Chip and Vanilla flavors. 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. A serving contains 140 to 190 calories, and 6 to 11 grams of fat, depending on flavor.

Lactose-free dairy desserts and cultured dairy foods are also gaining traction, especially products with added nutrition. They complement the “Foods for Health” movement.

About a year ago, Ehrmann introduced High-Protein Pudding. The 200-gram single-serve containers come in Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla varieties. The pudding is lactose free thanks to the use of the lactase enzyme, and contains no added sugars. It is sweetened with acesulfame k and sucralose. Each serving provides 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein.

The Hain Celestial Group now offers The Greek Gods Less Sugar Greek-style yogurt. Containing 50% less sugar than the leading brands of regular flavored yogurt, the new keto-friendly product is made with whole milk sourced from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones. The yogurt contains seven different live and active cultures, including probiotics. Formulations include milk protein isolate for extra protein. Lactase enzyme renders the product lactose free and also assists with sweetness. A touch of cane sugar rounds it out. The yogurt comes in five flavors: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla. Each 4.5-ounce cup contains 140 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 to 7 grams of sugar (2 grams are “added sugars”) and 6 grams of protein.

The Collective Dairy in Australia now offers spoonable kefir. This lactose-free prebiotic and probiotic fermented dairy food includes chicory root fiber and 13 active culture strains to “really help give you some good tummy lovin’.” Much like traditional yogurt, what sets spoonable kefir apart is the diverse blend and number of live cultures. They are: Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides and Streptococcus thermophilus.

In addition to a natural plain product, the company recently offered a limited-edition Date Cacao option. Both varieties included lactase to allow for a lactose-free claim. 

FAGE is embracing the lactose-free trend with FAGE BestSelf low-fat Greek yogurt. Speaking directly to the “Foods for Health” movement, FAGE BestSelf comes in a plain variety in 5.3-ounce and 32-ounce containers. With no-added-sugars, a serving contains 110 calories, 3 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar and 15 grams of protein. The blended varieties include chicory root fiber to additionally assist with keeping added sugars on the lower side. Varieties are: Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla. A serving contains 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. And, as you may have guessed, lactase allows for a lactose-free claim and also helps with keeping added sugars down. 


The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has doubled the number of semi-finalists and added more than $350,000 in additional awards to the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, its dairy product innovation competition. Inspired by the number of quality ideas and products that integrate the flavor and functionality of California dairy into both sweet and savory snack formulations, the VentureFuel-run competition has expanded to include 16 companies competing for more than $800,000 in awards. 

The Real California Milk Snackcelerator taps into the $605 billion global snack food market while combining two of California’s great natural resources: High quality, sustainable dairy products and the insatiable California entrepreneurial spirit. The competition aims 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. A number of them are lactose free. 

Sweet Entries:
Peekaboo Ice Cream is the first and only organic ice cream with the added nutritional benefits of vegetables.

FitPro Heroes’ Cookies are lactose-free, shelf-stable protein cookies that deliver ingredients designed to support daily performance needs.

Moody’s Ice Cream is made by infusing ultra-premium ice cream with functional ingredients, adaptogens and herbalist blends to naturally boost mood and turn up the body’s own superpowers. 

Lucha Leche is a line of protein-rich yogurt drinks in Latin-inspired flavors and fortified with pre- and probiotics and no added sugars. 

Frutero Ice Cream is a line of premium Latin-inspired ice cream made with 100% real tropical fruits and creamy butterfat. 

Optimized Foods developed functional ice cream novelty bars that leverage innovative proprietary encapsulation technologies to deliver key functionally proven health ingredients with better taste and greater bioavailability.

Petit Pot developed a new indulgent chocolate dessert made with the organic, local ingredients. 

KetoBites Cheesecake Bites are a snackable and indulgent cheesecake treat that is high in protein and low in sugar and carbohydrates and packaged in a convenient yogurt-style cup.

Savory Entries:
Baozza is combines two of the most consumed foods in Asian and gen pop culture--bao buns and pizza.

WheyUp Probiotic Kefir Krisps are snack chips made from kefir with a one-year shelf life while maintaining the active probiotic cultures in a cheese yogurt snack.

Point Reyes Farmstead Whey Cool Kitchen Curd Cup is a mix-in, high-protein dairy snack.

Sach Foods Organic Paneer is a line of flavored artisanal paneer. 

Fahris Yoghurt Chips were inspired by a Mediterranean recipe that combines yogurt with crushed wheat and thyme. 

Saga Ventures Crispy Cheese Bar is a snacking option that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein for sustainable energy.  

Yummy Industries Cheese Bits are all-natural, fresh and wood-smoked scamorza and chechil cheeses, conveniently shaped and packaged for snacking fun. 

Enrich Protein is a Hispanic-style dairy snack chip containing innovative and novel enhanced dairy proteins to support greater health, body composition and exercise recovery. 

Through the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, the CMAB sought 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 have committed to producing the product in California, with milk from California dairy farms, should they win the competition. The 16 startups accepted into the cohort are receiving $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 additional services and support via industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. 

Semi-finalists will compete in four virtual events on November 10 and 11 followed by a final virtual public pitch event for the “Final Four” November 19. (I am a judge!) The first-place winner will receive up to $200,000 worth of additional support and the second-place winner $100,000 worth of additional support to get their new product to market. The value of the competition prizing is over $800,000

Friday, October 2, 2020

Dairy Foods Formulating for the New Norm Home Cook


Photo source: Vermont Creamery

Home cooking has gone from trend to habit in the past six months. Market analysts and industry experts say home cooking is here for the long-term future. Dairy foods formulators are encouraged to get creative with products that provide short cuts in the kitchen: everything from specialty products for restaurant-quality home dinners to affordable products for everyday convenience. It’s everything that dairy can be.

Americans made a marked return to their kitchens in March, rediscovering scratch cooking, baking and above all, comfort. The global pandemic forced a shift to more purposeful shopping behaviors and more thoughtful, elaborate meal preparation.

According to a Hunter poll conducted in April 2020, 54% of Americans surveyed reported that they are cooking more since the pandemic, with a 50% increase in their cooking confidence. Notably, 44% reported that they have discovered new ingredients. 

Indeed, cooking confidence is soaring, and increased time in the kitchen has re-sparked a joy of cooking, according to the poll. Americans plan to continue cooking more even after the world reverts to normal, as they are finding cooking more helps them save money and eat healthier. They are becoming more adventurous in the kitchen, discovering new brands and products, and rediscovering old favorites. They are using recipes more than ever and are wasting less food. The pandemic is driving families together around the table, with many turning more to both healthier food and more indulgent and comfort foods, as they look to food for complete nourishment: body, mind and soul. 

Dairy foods do all this and more!

Read more on the Hunter Poll HERE.

Infographic source: Hunter Poll

But consumers aren’t just looking for a new challenge. They are looking for products that offer versatility across multiple applications, and not surprisingly, a forgiving shelf life. Dairy foods can do that!

Vermont Creamery has embraced this opportunity. The company’s culinary creams, such as crème fraîche and mascarpone, are uniquely positioned to deliver on this compelling consumer trend. 

In fact, the company’s crème fraîche has become a kitchen staple amid the at-home cooking renaissance, according to the company. This French-style culinary cream long favored by professional chefs, is quickly becoming an essential kitchen staple for increasingly ambitious home cooks looking for more complex recipes and ingredients.

Crème fraîche is a true work horse in the kitchen; the closest cousin to cultured butter, it is a thick and rich cultured cream boasting 42% butterfat, that adds depth of flavor and decadence to any dish, sweet or savory. Its high butterfat means it won’t break at high heat or when it encounters acidity, setting it up for success in hot soups, stews, pan sauces and baked goods. Crème fraiche can be used in any recipe that calls for sour cream but soars above it in terms of its flavor contribution. Made with fresh Vermont cream, crème fraîche is cultured for 24 hours, creating a thick, spoonable texture and rich flavor notes of hazelnut. 

Crème fraiche sales have seen double digit growth over the past year. There’s been a 39% increase in buyers, with volume sales up 18% since last year, according to data from IRI during the 13-week period ended July 12, 2020. 

Crème fraiche is a specialty food. 

Infographic Source: Hunter Poll
Last week the Specialty Food Association (SFA) held Specialty Food Live! 2020, as a platform for those who had planned to participate in the Summer Fancy Food Show previously scheduled for late June in New York City. The virtual event kicked off with a state of the specialty food industry report. David Lockwood, consulting director at Mintel explained that the specialty food category is expected to grow more in 2020 than originally forecast—16.5% vs. 13.3%—due to the pandemic. To compare, the category ended 2019 with a valuation of $158.4 billion, a 10.7% increase since 2017.

The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2020-2021, published by SFA and developed with Mintel, explores the market and where it is going based on sales data from the past three calendar years, sales forecasts in key categories, and a consumer survey that tracks behaviors, preferences, and generational differences shifting the market. This year’s research includes analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the specialty food industry, including supply chain commentary, to provide insight on market ramifications, challenges, and opportunities in the current business environment.

Specialty foods are defined as foods or beverages of the highest grade, style and/or quality in their respective categories. Their specialty nature derives from a combination of some or all of the following qualities: uniqueness, origin, processing method, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, extraordinary packaging or channel of distribution/sales.

Infographic source: Hunter Poll
The report shows that the specialty food and beverage market continued to outpace sales of all food, growing three times faster than the entire food and beverage market from 2017 to 2019. In 2019 more categories than ever before (12) achieved at least $2 billion in annual sales. Cheese and plant-based cheese was the number-one specialty food category in retail sales. Shelf-stable and refrigerated creams and creamers were the number-two and number-three in terms of highest dollar growth. 

Regarding the virtual event, trendspotter Melanie Bartelme, global food analyst at Mintel, said, “what stood out the most in my eyes was how relevant specialty products like simmer sauces, seasoning blends and other cooking tools have become in these times. With quarantine putting an increased focus on home cooking, products that can take consumers on culinary adventures or simplify their busy lives will really resonate.”

To read more about the virtual event and explore a slideshow of innovations, link HERE to a Food Business News article I wrote this week. 

These cooking tools are all about the new “modern convenience.” New ways of engaging with food and eating have become prevalent as consumers become more purpose-driven and intentional in their purchases, according to The Hartman Group’s COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience report. (See infographic.)

Convenience is a key consideration for consumers when it comes to food and beverage choices, but what does convenience look like when a global pandemic throws normal schedules and routines into disarray? The COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience white paper dissects how the fundamental components and expressions of modern convenience have been translated into the COVID-19 era and analyzes which of these shifts will have long-term impacts on consumer decisions. You can download the free white paper HERE.

“Purpose-driven and intentional in purchases,” this is what Land O’Lakes’ new Where Goodness Grows project is all about. This six-part digital video series educates consumers about dairy farming and how it is more than hard work. In between caring for the cows and waiting for the rain to stop (or start), there is joy, hope and plenty of smiles to go around. 

Watch the video HERE.

Land O’Lakes farmer-owners share their inspiring stories, as well as home-crafted recipes featuring dairy ingredients, namely baked goods made with Land O Lakes Butter. Research shows that butter has provided much-needed comfort to millions of Americans throughout 2020. And while the country continues to face uncertainty, farmers are working tirelessly to ensure the food supply chain remains strong.

Photo source: Land O'Lakes

“We created Where Goodness Grows to give our farmer-owners a platform to share hope and positivity, which can be just as nourishing as the food they produce,” said Catherine Fox, vice president dairy foods marketing at Land O’Lakes. “Through this storytelling platform, we are adding dimension to the way most people imagine dairy farmers by shining a light on the amazing things they do. There’s plenty of goodness to share.”  

As part of its ongoing commitment to ending hunger in the U.S., Land O’Lakes is donating one pound of macaroni and cheese for a guaranteed maximum donation of 100,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese (equivalent to 83,000 meals) to Feeding America for every comment on or share of a Where Goodness Grows episode. Please watch, comment and share HERE.

It’s time for dairy foods formulators to get creative with products that provide short cuts in the kitchen: everything from specialty products for restaurant-quality home dinners to affordable products for everyday convenience. It’s everything that dairy can be. 

Today’s blog sponsor—Edlong—is rolling out “Everything Dairy Can Be,” an inspirational mantra that is driven by Edlong’s industry-leading dairy, dairy-based and dairy-free ingredient capabilities.

“With Everything Dairy Can Be, we are sending a powerful message to the marketplace that Edlong is the ‘Navy Seal’ of dairy solutions,” says Laurette Rondenet, Edlong President and CEO. “Our team specializes in getting the job done when others can’t, bringing to life the virtually limitless possibilities of dairy flavors and the answers they provide. Our singular focus on the essence of dairy taste equips us with intricate knowledge that is unsurpassed. This expertise is put to work to solve some of the most complex product development challenges. Nobody has done dairy ingredients longer, and if you ask our customers, nobody does the taste of dairy better.  

“Dairy can be everything from a problem-solver, to a point of difference for a brand, to a point of commonality between cultures,” added Rondenet. 

Link HERE to learn more about formulating dairy foods for the new norm home cook.