Friday, November 12, 2021

Think of the Children. Market how dairy meets their nutritional needs.


With a headline of “Think of the Children,” I bet you thought I was going there…the “V” word. Well, if I had littles, they would be scheduled to get their first dose. 

But really, that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about making every bite and sip count in the youngest mouths on this planet. As you may recall, for the first time ever, the U.S. government got involved with nutrition directions for youngsters. (Thanks for trying to keep us healthy.) The 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations for children under two years of age. They suggest that infants and toddlers feed only on breast milk for at least six months and give no added sugar to children younger than 2. 

Older kids have long had recommendations and are not as strict. But still, every bite and sip matters. This is why it’s paramount that the dairy industry manufacture products that cater to their nutritional needs, as well as sensory desires. They like sweet flavors and appetizing colors. 

The toddler phase may be considered the “terrible twos,” but it is a highly critical development phase for children and has long-lasting effects on the body and the brain. For tweens and teens, choosing nutrient-dense foods instead of empty calories will lead to building better bodies and better eating habits as adults. These kids are active and burning many calories in a day, so focusing on ingredients that provide energy and satiety throughout the day is key to optimal health. 

So, let’s talk about Ripple Kids. Have you seen any of the commercials? Check out this social media VIDEO.

Since its release in early 2021, Ripple Kids has been loud about how it delivers all the nutrients kids need without dairy. The brand was even named a finalist in the Best New Natural Kids Product category for the NEXTY Awards. Data shared at the 2019 Food for Kids summit from a study done by Linkage Research & Consulting reported that 60% of households with kids are buying plant-based foods, and 80% are also feeding the foods to their children, according to Imbibe. 

Ripple Kids was developed with pediatricians for early childhood nutrition. In addition to the 8 grams of plant-based protein from peas, Ripple Kids has 50 milligrams of DHA, choline and prebiotic fiber, along with many of the essential nutrients found in dairy milk: calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, D and B12. 

I applaud Nestle for bringing the Nido brand into a ready-to-drink, shelf-stable format. New Nido School Years is formulated for children ages 4 and up. It is made with real milk and 40% less added sugars than other flavored milks. Some varieties include fruit puree, too. The milk is touted as containing vitamin D and calcium to help support bone health and vitamin A and zinc to help support immunity. The 8-ounce aseptic boxes come in four varieties: banana, mango, strawberry and vanilla. They are sold as individual cartons and in six packs. 

Need help keeping strawberry milk looking delicious? Natural red color may help. 

Lycored tested the stability of two of its natural red lycopene-based colors versus the artificial colorant Red 3 during and after ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing in a flavored milk drink matrix. Accelerated shelf life tests were carried out to evaluate the stability of the colors when exposed to light, dark and ambient conditions, simulating real-life storage, transportation and retail environments.

The natural colors outperformed the artificial color across all tests, demonstrating that there are considerable advantages to selecting lycopene-based red shades over other artificial or natural colors for UHT applications.

Link HERE to download a white paper on this topic and to learn more about Lycored’s resilient natural red colors. This picture shows how these colors perform. 

USDA Invests $20.2 Million in Grants for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of $20.2 million in the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program. The DBI awarded $18.4 million to three current Initiatives at University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency for Food and Marketing and University of Wisconsin, and $1.8 million to the California State University Fresno, a new investment this year to be managed in partnership with the California Dairy Innovation Center (CDIC).

Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting them with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products.
For more information, link HERE.

“These awards will expand the scope of the Dairy Business Innovation program and provide much-needed support to small dairy farms and businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic,” says USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt. “In addition to initiatives in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest, a new initiative for the Pacific Coast is funded, led by California State University Fresno. These DBI initiatives provide the dairy industry with additional capacity and expertise that will go beyond immediate assistance and set the stage for a more secure future.”

The California investment will serve to create a “Pacific Coast Coalition” to support dairy businesses in California, Oregon and Washington. Through this program, Fresno State and collaborating institutions will deliver hands-on technical assistance to dairy businesses, providing access to laboratory space and equipment to facilitate development and innovation. The Coalition has a strong focus on education as well and will offer learning opportunities on technical topics and related areas of interest such as supply chain innovation, distribution, packaging, marketing and branding strategies. 

“This collaboration is why the CDIC was created, to support collaboration and attract investment in California’s dairy industry,” says John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “We’re pleased to join the group of existing coalitions in Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee, in order to advance our industry nationwide.” 

California leads the nation in milk production and milk is the number one agricultural commodity in the state. California also is a leading exporter of dairy products. The Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of dairy businesses that are well-positioned to serve the needs of growing markets in Asia and Latin America. 

“The Pacific Coast Coalition will contribute to our competitive advantage in global markets and directly benefit our regional businesses. It will be instrumental to stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthening the development of our workforce pipeline, and ultimately leading to the increased use of our milk in value-added products,” adds Talbot.  

DFA’s CoLAB Accelerator Seeking New Applicants for 2022 Program 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) CoLAB Accelerator program, which will begin in April and run through June 2022. The program, now in its sixth year, is designed to foster relationships with startup companies and help advance innovative solutions in the areas of ag-tech and dairy food products. 

“At DFA, our mission is to deliver value to our family farm-owners. This program is one way that we’re investing in new opportunities for the industry and helping drive innovation on the farm and in the dairy case,” says Doug Dresslaer, director of innovation at DFA. “What’s particularly exciting with our program is that we continue to work with many of our past participants, which is the end goal to really develop long-term relationships.” 

Ag-tech companies can address any portion of the dairy value chain, including but not limited to animal health, farm data management, herd health and management, supply chain optimization, farm labor and sustainability. Some ag-tech categories of particular interest to DFA include antibiotic alternatives, renewable or alternative energy methods, farm labor solutions, food waste technologies, automation and robotics, on-farm connectivity, animal identification and monitoring and animal transport technologies to name a few. 

On the food front, the farmer-owned Cooperative is seeking early-stage food product companies that are dairy-focused or dairy-based, including products using milk, cheese, butter, whey or other dairy-based ingredients. Companies developing innovative processing or manufacturing technologies for dairy products, including sustainable packaging, will also be considered. For more information, link HERE.

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