Friday, February 19, 2021

Ready. Set. Go Dairy. Explore tools and virtual events to assist with innovation, education and recognition.


The natural and nutritious image of dairy products continues to be a key driver in new product development, according to Innova Market Insights’ Top Trends in Dairy 2021. This is despite the challenge posed by rising interest in plant-based diets and concerns over environmental and ethical issues.

COVID-19 has had a disruptive impact on individuals in terms of heightening stress and anxiety, which has in turn triggered deeper examinations of personal and collective approaches to health and well-being. In the face of such challenges, consumers are seeking empowerment in order to take control of both their own and their family’s health through behaviors that build immunity and resilience. Recent research by The Hartman Group found that 47% of consumers aware of COVID-19 say they are taking supplements to boost their immunity. 

They should be taking probiotic dairy foods. 

This week I wrote an online column for Food Business News on research being conducted at Rutgers University exploring the potential connection between the microbiome and COVID-19. The study is being funded by Danone North America.

To read “Exploring the relationship between the microbiome and COVID-19,” link HERE.

Innova’s 2020 Consumer Survey indicated that 54% of global consumers claimed to have spent time educating themselves on ingredients that could boost their immune health. Dairy products, such as yogurt and fermented drinks, have long been associated with immune health, largely as a result of the development and mainstreaming of probiotics. More recently interest has also risen in the immune benefits of antioxidants, and the greater use of fruit, herbal and spice extracts for flavor and function.

The influence of Innova’s #6 Top-Ten Trend 2021 “Nutrition Hacking” is also seen being seen within the top trends in dairy. Four-out-of-five global consumers said that they believed in progress in food and beverages through science. Developments are focusing on tapping into improving nutrition, leveraging technology and balancing diets.

“Traditionally, popular claims included high protein for the protein-loving consumer, fiber rich for digestive health, or sugar reduced for weight and overall health,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “However, this is now evolving toward more complete balanced solutions. Products such as dairy drinks offering ‘advanced’ or ‘complete’ nutrition are leveraging the best of both worlds for natural and technology-driven options.”

Another Top Trend in dairy is “Mood: The Next Occasion.” Concerns over mental health are more significant than ever. According to the World Health Organization, depression may be the leading illness globally by 2030 if no action is taken. Dairy new product development around mood is seeing rapid growth, with rising use of on-pack claims relating to specific mood platforms.

Calming/relaxing and energy boosting are the most established platforms, while sleep promotion is still niche, but growing from a smaller base and showing potential for further innovation. The use of adaptogenic herbal extracts for combating the mental and physical effects of stress is also trending as upward interest in more holistic well-being develops.

Functional dairy foods can do all this and more.

“There is clearly ongoing potential for the dairy market,” says Williams. “It remains one of the world’s most valuable food sectors, with a healthy, nutritious and versatile image and the potential for ongoing added value. However, the recent struggle with Covid-19 and a generally tougher consumer environment may prove challenging.”

On March 10, 2021, at 10:00am EST, Williams will present the “Top Ten Trends 2021 for Dairy.” You can register HERE

Opportunities to Meet with Colleagues to Collaborate and Innovate

There are a number of events taking place virtually over the next few months that may assist with your innovation efforts. I highly encourage you to participate in order to engage with colleagues. All of these events were cancelled last year because of the pandemic, and the regulars are anxious to get together and welcome new people. It just so happens I will be speaking (different presentations) at all of these events.

  • IDFA’s Ice Cream Technology Conference. April 6-8. Link HERE for more information. 
  • IDFA’s Yogurt & Cultured Innovation Conference. April 8, and April 13-14. Link HERE for more information. 
  • Oregon Dairy Industries (ODI). April 13-14. This event includes a virtual cheese tasting on Day 2, including wine pairing suggestions. Link HERE for more information. 
  • Global Dairy Congress. June 22-24. Link HERE for more information. 

got a winning innovation? World Dairy Innovation Awards…early-bird submissions due March 19, 2021.

Dairy processors around the world continue to amaze with their innovation efforts. Here’s a chance to receive recognition: enter The World Dairy Innovation Awards 2021. The U.K.-based FoodBev Media organizes and presents this award. This year the judges will be selecting winners in 20 different categories. Typically, the finalists and winners are announced at a special gala dinner held during the annual Global Dairy Congress in mid-June. This year’s event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony in June. Link HERE for more information.

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