Friday, February 26, 2021

Dairy Foods Innovation: Just-a-Bite Meets 100-Calorie Snack Packs

In IRI’s January 22, 2021, report “Year-End 2020 Trends, 2021 Emerging Growth Pockets,” the message is loud and clear: now is the time to focus on innovation for the new norm. I think it’s safe to say that we have an idea of what that new norm is going to be, and that includes lots of packaging. That’s right, lots of individually wrapped, single-portion foods and beverages for away-from-home and on-the-go consumption. 

People miss their culinary escapes: Passed appetizers and cheese trays at work receptions, small plates and charcuterie when dining with friends, and let’s not forget just-a-bite of your favorites from Whole Foods’ food bars and self-serve cookie and dessert case.     

Desserts are for moments of indulgence and now more than ever consumers crave this experience. They are seeking out innovative flavors and textures, but need help with portion control. An intensified focus on health and wellness is fueling the desire for moments of guilt-free indulgence, which must not equate to less pleasure and satisfaction. It’s just the opposite. It truly suggests “just-a-bite.” Think 100 calorie packs—maybe a little more—of dairy deliciousness from the fridge. 

The category of refrigerated dairy desserts is one that is very underdeveloped in the U.S. Elsewhere in the world, refrigerated dairy desserts are a big business that continues to grow in both the pre-packaged refrigerated case and at the bakery/confection counter of mainstream supermarkets. In the States, pre-packaged products have limited shelf space and fresh products are limited to select finer, specialty food retailers. In some scenarios, retailers with limited experience with refrigerated dairy desserts are not even sure where to merchandise them; however, as retailers redesign their stores for the new norm of “foodservice at retail,” dairy dessert marketers are well poised to finagle their way into grab-and-go chilled spaces.  

It’s time for dairy processors to reinvent everything from pudding to mousse to cheesecake to bonbons. Focus on real ingredients and true dairy flavor along with unique textures and mouthwatering appearances. 

The Kraft Heinz Company may be selling off most of its cheese businesses, much to J.L. Kraft’s dismay, but it plans to retain the Philadelphia Cream Cheese business. And the company apparently has grand plans for the brand as well as for the overall dairy desserts space. The company is on to something!

New Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumble is a 6.6-ounce box of two single-serve cheesecake dessert cups. One serving contains 290 to 340 calories, depending on variety, of which there are four. They are: Cherry, Chocolate Hazelnut, Original and Strawberry. With Philadelphia-brand cream cheese the number-one ingredient, these desserts come complete with a graham crumble in a dome top, which mimics a graham cracker crust. The separate container prevents it from getting soggy.

The desserts are a little more than just-a-bite and definitely more than a 100-calorie snack pack, but the concept is in the right direction. Imagine something a little smaller, in a more upscale clear package, and available for those receptions with colleagues that we all miss so much. They would also be perfect for airline clubs and executive lounges. Branded foil lids are excellent marketing and will get consumers interested in the category when shopping for their home. 

Kraft Heinz is also rolling out Colliders, a new line of dairy-based desserts that come in three different formats, each offering a unique texture and flavor combination. In total, there are 12 varieties, all of which sell in packs of two. Some are available as single containers.

The “Chopped” varieties include a flavored dairy dessert with candy pieces. Hershey’s Chocolate is chocolate dessert with dark chocolate pieces. Hershey’s Mint is mint dessert with dark chocolate pieces. Hershey’s S’mores is marshmallow dessert with milk chocolate pieces and graham cracker crumbles. Reese’s is peanut butter dessert with milk chocolate pieces.

The “Layered” concept is a candy-flavored dairy dessert with a rich milk chocolate topping. Varieties are: Mounds (coconut), Reese’s (peanut butter), Rolo (caramel) and York (peppermint).

The four types of “Twisted” are all based on a vanilla-flavored dairy dessert and include crumbles of candy. Varieties are: Heath, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Kit Kat and Reese’s.

The 3.5-ounce cups contain 190 to 220 calories, 8 grams to 12 grams of fat, 21 grams to 23 grams of sugar (almost all are added sugars), and 1 gram to 3 grams of protein. Still a little high in calories, but more on target to satisfy a craving without over indulging. 

Private-label retailer Aldi has been known to offer limited-edition, super-indulgent dairy desserts in glass ramekins. This 3.5-ounce Specially Selected Salted Caramel Cheesecake is a blend of cream cheese baked over a graham crust with a layer of salted caramel sauce. The dessert is 300 calories, 13 grams of fat, 29 grams of sugar (27 gram are added) and 4 grams of protein.

St. Benoit Creamery is a leader in the refrigerated dairy dessert space. The company’s Creamy Organic Pot de Crème Desserts are made with certified organic milk from pasture-raised Jersey. The desserts deliver light and creamy spoonable luxury in sustainable glass packaging for a healthy, convenient treat that’s delicious and fun for kids and adults. The indulgent clean-label, limited-ingredient dairy desserts are free of starches, milk powders, fillers, stabilizers and preservatives, and lower in calories than similar desserts, according to the company. The organic desserts contain only organic full-fat milk, cream, eggs, sugar and real flavorings. The 3.5-ounce single-serve desserts have a suggested retail price of $2.99. Consumers will pay for pleasure. 

Here’s a product that was before its time in the U.K. It now serves as a good starting point for innovating for the new norm. Refrigerated dessert brand Gü offered mousse desserts in varieties such as Chocolate and Toffee, Mango and Passionfruit, and Strawberry. The clear stemmed plastic container appeals to the eyes. The lids suggest “Take Two,” as in a few minute break for some guilt-free indulgence. 

It’s time to focus on innovation for the new norm. Offer consumers just-a-bite for guilt-free dairy indulgence. 

To explore additional concepts in refrigerated dairy desserts, link HERE.


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