Thursday, December 3, 2020

Are Your Dairy Foods Ready for the Upcoming Baby Bust?


Photo source: Food Culture/MilkPEP

I hope those of you who typically celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday managed to connect and enjoy some time with family and friends, even if it was via a Zoom call or a drop-off dinner. I am very thankful for the almost 9,000 subscribers to the Daily Dose of Dairy and especially thankful to advertisers and sponsors. If you are interested in supporting this electronic innovation tool, please send me an EMAIL and I will share some opportunities that are still available for 2021.  

Best, Donna Berry

It’s the countdown to the end of 2020. You may think your company did a good job of pivoting, adapting and even rebooting to the long-lasting changes from the pandemic that have impacted the production, manufacturing, distribution, sale and even preparation of foods at home and in foodservice. Congrats on your efforts…but you may have missed the most important consumer. It’s that demographic that is being born now and will be adults in 18 years. And guess what? They will be the most different of any generation and also fewer in number. It is paramount that we make them “real dairy” consumers with innovations that appeal to the gatekeeper on all fronts: nutrition, clean label, sustainability, and more. These have to be products made with ingredients that mom and dad trust.  

I like to encourage readers to think out of the box and think beyond today, tomorrow or even next year. So here’s something to ponder. A very close college friend is an OB/GYN in the Chicagoland area. Her schedule has recently gotten quite hectic because of many moms-to-be entering their 8th and 9th month of pregnancy. As she describes it, these are the pandemic quarantine babies. And while the next two months are going to be very busy for her, she expects business to slow down dramatically.  

The initial spike in births is the result of those first few weeks of being stuck at home with partners. But just like the home cooking and baking started to lose appeal, so did the romance. Economists predict that the U.S. may have around 500,000 fewer births this coming year because of the pandemic. It’s not necessarily because couples got sick of each other, it’s more of the financial insecurity, the stress and the uncertainty of everything from education to employment. On the upside, teen pregnancy in developed countries is speculated to be significantly down, as there were no homecomings, proms or graduation parties.

The Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit public policy organization, published an excellent overview of what it calls the “Covid Baby Bust.” You can read it HERE.

The report’s authors hypothesize that COVID-19 will likely lead to a large, lasting baby bust, as we are thrust into an economic recession. Children come at a cost, which is why many will make the conscious decision to have less children in order to have fewer mouths to feed. It is paramount that the dairy industry innovate for this younger generation.

“On top of the economic impact, there will likely be a further decline in births as a direct result of the public health crisis and the uncertainty and anxiety it creates, and perhaps to some extent, social distancing. Our analysis of the Spanish Flu indicated a 15% decline in annual births in a pandemic that was not accompanied by a major recession. And this occurred during a period in which no modern contraception existed to easily regulated fertility,” the authors wrote. “We expect that many of these births will not just be delayed but will never happen. There will be a COVID-19 baby bust.”

Early childhood nutrition company Gerber, part of Nestl√©, is on it. The company is launching subscription-based food boxes designed to meet a baby’s nutritional needs as baby ages. The service includes nutritional education to guide the parents with selecting other ala carte items. The new program comes amid a growing demand for healthier infant and toddler foods, while consumers are also embracing food delivery services. 

The subscription box service is designed to make introducing new foods and flavors more convenient, especially while parents are busy juggling childcare when working from home. The boxes only contain organic, shelf-stable foods, which limits dairy’s presence to ambient yogurt fruit pouches, yogurt melts and cheesy snack puffs. 

Here’s another rather recent innovation: Healthy Height protein shake mix. Healthy Height was developed and tested by pediatricians to give a holistic solution to nourish growing children, predominantly in the 3 to 9-years age group, including those children who lack nutrition due to health issues that may impair eating. It also helps support nutrition in picky eaters, a universal problem that causes a lot of stress to families.

The drink mix contains 12 grams of whey protein per serving, with no artificial ingredients, corn syrup or chemically sounding additives. It is gluten-free, soy-free, no GMO’s and includes 350 milligrams of the vital amino acid arginine per serving. It also is low in sugar and sodium. “Picky-eater approved,” Healthy Height can be mixed into ice cream or pancake batters, as well used in shakes and smoothies.

Two top medical professionals in pediatric endocrinology, gastroenterology and nutrition were behind the research and development of the Healthy Height formulation. While genetics plays the most significant role in an individual’s height, with studies showing this accounts for up to 80% of final height, researchers believe that environmental factors fill that gap, with nutrition being the most dominant factor. Healthy Height was designed by these medical professionals to fill the gap.

Just this past week I received announcements of numerous new baby, toddler and kids’ dairy foods making their way into retailers’ refrigerators. These products command a premium, and moms and dads are willing to pay to keep their offspring healthy.

Stonyfield Organic and Nature’s Path, for example, have teamed up to offer Stonyfield Organic Kids Yogurt with EnviroKidz Cereal Toppers. Available in two varieties--Strawberry Yogurt & Choco Chimps and Vanilla Yogurt & Koala Crisp—the yogurt and cereal combos are a nutritious breakfast or lunch, as well as an afternoon snack. The new line contains 25% to 35% less sugar than the leading yogurt with toppings, while also offering 10 grams of protein per serving. Both varieties are also USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project verified. A four-pack of 4-ounce cups retails for about $6.49.

New Organic Valley Lowfat Chocolate Milk is described as “yummy,” and is designed to keeps kids drinking flavored milk. The product will roll out in January. The beverage offers the same nutrition and pasture-raised goodness as the cooperative’s regular milk with a new chocolate flavor and no artificial sweeteners. It said to have kid-friendly taste. Because it is lactose free, it is gentle on digestion, an attribute many health-conscious moms and dads want, according to the company. It comes in 64-ounce gable-top cartons with a suggested retail price of $5.29 to $5.99.

“Organic Valley formulated its new chocolate milk with a better overall taste profile that is specifically kid-friendly, while slightly reducing the sugar content and making it lactose free,” says Minh-Quan Huynh, brand manager.

Earlier in the year, siggi’s, a forerunner in lower-sugar yogurt with simple ingredients, introduced its first-ever kids’ yogurt pouches. The products contain 50% less sugar and 30% fewer ingredients than leading kids’ yogurts, according to the company. siggi’s kids’ pouches feature creamy, non-tart 2% milkfat yogurt in two flavors: Blueberry and Strawberry & Banana. 

“When I started siggi’s in my New York City apartment, I focused on simple yogurts with less sugar. So I am now excited to introduce a product that kids will love to eat, and parents will love to serve,” says Siggi Hilmarsson, founder. “I feel this is perfect for families-a- tasty, simple yogurt pouch with no mess and less sugar.”

Over the summer, Danone North America grew its Horizon Organic Growing Years brand with yogurt pouches. The brand first made its debut in refrigerated milk and quickly grew into the shelf-stable, single-serve box space. Now the brand is expanding into pouch yogurt in Blueberry and Strawberry flavors.

The Horizon Organic Growing Years milk is organic whole milk with specially selected nutrition for growing kids. The company partnered with pediatricians to identify key nutrients for ages 1 to 5, so every serving provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), choline, prebiotics and other key nutrients. The yogurt includes the same key nutrients; however, it is made with cultured low-fat milk. DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that supports brain and eye health. 
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choline is an essential brain nutrient. It aids in the transport and synthesis of lipids (or fats), and it helps transport DHA throughout the body. Prebiotics are dietary fiber that feeds friendly gut bacteria. A 3.5-ounce pouch of Growing Years yogurt contains 50 milligrams of DHA, 55 milligrams of choline and 2 grams of prebiotic chicory root fiber. A pouch contains 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar (3 grams are added sugars). The pouches are sold in boxes of four.

The company also now offers Super Danimals, a low-fat yogurt created to help support the immune system of kids. The company conducted extensive research, which revealed a priority for parents is to find products that can support children’s immune systems, and this was discovered before COVID-19.

Super Danimals features probiotics and vitamins C and D, all of which are associated with boosting immunity. It’s also free of artificial preservative ingredients and contains no colors or flavors from artificial sources. One 4-ounce cup contains 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of sugar (4 grams are added).

“Based on our research, we know children’s health is always on parents’ minds, and families are exploring new ways to help support their children’s immune systems with the snacks they buy,” says Kristie Leigh, senior manager of scientific affairs at Danone. “By regularly adding Super Danimals to a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, parents can feel good about helping support their children’s immune systems with a tasty snack their kids love.”

Iconic Protein now offers Iconic Kids, the only kid-focused line of ready-to-drink products on the market with zero grams of sugar and one full serving of organic greens. The initial flavors are: Chocolate Carnival, Fruity Fiesta and Vanilla Vacay. Each serving provides 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Ingredients include grass-fed milk protein isolate, prebiotic chicory root fiber and a greens blend consisting of kale, broccoli and spinach. The drink is sweetened with stevia leaf and monkfruit extract. The shelf-stable drinks come in 8-ounce prisma packs and retail for $2.29 to $2.49 each, and $26.99 to $29.99 for 12-packs cases.

About two years ago, when ice cream brands for health-conscious consumers were flooding the market, Nicole Frankel saw a void: The new products catered to adults, not the demographic that was the most likely to scream for ice cream—children. She developed a nutrient-dense ice cream that always has a fruit or vegetable as the primary ingredient and contains 40% less sugar than other leading brands. Yum Actually’s unique flavors include Butternut Squash Butterscotch, Caramel Sweet Potato, Creamy Honey Banana and Yummy Mango. 

It wasn’t the void in the market that initially got Frankel into the ice cream-making business, rather, it was her very young daughter who simply refused to eat fruits and vegetables. Frustrated but determined, she resorted to mashing up various superfoods, such as bananas and sweet potatoes, and transforming them into something that her daughter would never turn down: ice cream. At first, she eyed the frozen snack with skepticism, but after taking a couple of tastes, she looked up at her mom and said, “It’s yum, actually!” A product was born. 

Two weeks ago, Peekaboo Ice Cream took home the grand prize of $200,000 from the California Milk Advisory Board’s Real California Milk Snackcelerator contest. The company plans to bring a 3.6-ounce mini cup of its organic ice cream with hidden vegetables to the snacking category. Flavors are: Chocolate with Hidden Cauliflower, Cookie Dough with Hidden Zucchini, Cotton Candy with Hidden Beets, Mint Chip with Hidden Spinach, Strawberry with Hidden Carrot, Unicorn Swirl with Hidden Zucchini, and Vanilla with Hidden Zucchini. WATCH THE COMPANY ON SHARK TANK ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020. 

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