Friday, July 21, 2023

IFT FIRST 2023: Was that stone soup I sampled?


It was great to see so many of you in Chicago this week for IFT FIRST. (Loved and appreciated all the hugs!)

Stone soup…do you remember that folktale?

This Eastern European tale starts with travelers arriving in a village with not much more than an empty cooking pot. The town folks are unwilling to share any food so the travelers start making stone soup. They fill the pot with water and a large stone, and place it over a fire. A curious villager asks what they are doing. After explaining they are making soup, the travelers suggest to the villagers that the soup could use some garnish to improve flavor. The villager, with hopes in having some of the soup, provides carrots. Another villager walks by, also curious, and decides to add some cabbage. The villagers come together, each adding another ingredient…all types of vegetables, along with meat, milk and butter. When the soup is done, the inedible stone is removed, and the new-formed community comes together over a tasty meal. 

That’s what IFT FIRST felt like this year. We were a community coming together to feed each other and the growing population. Congratulations on an expo done well!

It was not that long ago when you sampled prototypes on the IFT expo floor, you needed a spit up. This week most ingredient suppliers showed how they can work together, crossing party lines, so to say, and create bipartisan global food systems charged with feeding the world with nutritious and sustainable foods that also tasted great. 

(Kudos to today’s blog sponsor, Idaho Milk Products, for its great-tasting, shelf-stable vanilla protein shake and dairy protein-enhanced crackers. You can peruse and download an array of white papers and application sheets by linking HERE.) 

The term “global food systems” refers to the collaboration of all steps involved in food creation, from seed and livestock genetics to waste management. Sourcing sustainable ingredients is part of the formulating component of global food systems. There’s a great deal of opportunity to differentiate products in the marketplace through sustainable ingredient selection. This was very apparent at IFT FIRST. 

To read more about “Sourcing sustainable ingredients,” link HERE to an article I just wrote on this topic for Food Business News

To bring this topic close to home, here’s what Mars Inc., is doing. The company uses vanilla sourced from farmers participating in the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, an effort focused on improving the lives of vanilla farmers in Madagascar, to flavor Dove ice cream bars.

There’s a great deal of opportunity for dairy foods manufacturers to take a lead role in securing global food systems. Let’s not mess it up. We’ve done that in the past. School milk is the perfect example. 

When I was a little girl, school chocolate milk was made with the cheapest cocoa available. To make it palatable, it was sugared up. This continued for a long, long time and produced the current “not-milk generation.” The dairy industry needs to own that! We did it to ourselves. But, we are being given an opportunity to nourish children and not think about making a profit over what is “the right thing to do.” And in the long run, we will create a new “milk generation.” 

At IFT FIRST, sugar reduction was an overarching theme throughout the expo floor. Often times it was all about using higher-quality, clean-label ingredients to enable the need for less sugar in all types of applications, with “school” chocolate milk, as well as other flavored milks, ice creams, yogurts and dairy protein nutritional beverages being sampled. 

While IFT FIRST was taking place, Nestlé announced its breakthrough technology that reduces intrinsic sugars in key ingredients. This is what I am talking about!!!

Nestlé has introduced a versatile and cost-effective sugar reduction technology that can be applied across different product categories, with benefits beyond sugar reduction. It can also be used to produce low-lactose and skimmed milk-based products, while reducing total sugars.

Using an enzymatic process, it reduces intrinsic sugar in ingredients such as malt, milk and fruit juices by up to 30%, with a minimal impact on taste and texture. The sugar-reduced ingredients are then used in recipes for various products. There is no need to add sweeteners or bulking agents to replace the volume of the eliminated sugar.

When the patented sugar reduction method is applied to milk-based products, it also increases prebiotic fibers. First clinical studies have shown that these fibers can support the growth of multiple types of beneficial bacteria leading to a favorable microbiome composition in healthy adults.

This is a win-win opportunity for dairy foods innovation.

“Sugar reduction across our portfolio remains a top priority. This new technology is a true breakthrough, as we can reduce sugar without adding sweeteners while preserving a great taste, all at a minimal cost increase,” said Stefan Palzer, chief technology officer at Nestlé. “In addition, our scientists discovered that the sugar reduction generates prebiotic fibers that support the microbiome, which is an additional benefit. We are now accelerating the global roll-out across formats and categories."

The sugar reduction was first piloted in cocoa and malt-based ready-to-drink beverages in Southeast Asia and over the past year, Nestlé has already introduced it in factory lines for cocoa and malt-based powdered beverages, such as Milo across several countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Since 2021, the sugar-reduction technology has been applied to more than 200 000 tons of cocoa and malt-based beverages. The roll-out continues, and other product categories, such as dairy powders, will follow.

The development of novel technologies is part of Nestlé’s continuous efforts to improve the nutritional value of its products, while supporting responsible consumption as part of a balanced diet. The new sugar-reduction technology complements a wide range of existing solutions that Nestlé has developed over the years in collaboration with external innovation partners and suppliers. This includes natural sweeteners, sweetness-enhancing or bitterness masking flavors, as well as natural bulking agents such as fibers, cereals and tailor-made dairy and cocoa powders.

“We’re in a pretty exciting spot right now for dairy and nutrition,” said Miquela Hanselman, manager for regulatory affairs, National Milk Producers Federation, when discussing the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which will hopefully get passed by Congress this year. “National Milk is working with other dairy organizations to kind of make sure that we have all of our bases covered.”

We need all hands on deck to do this. It’s time to get creative. 

IFT FIRST kicked off on Monday with a keynote on “Creating a culture of innovation” by Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney. You can read more HERE.

He said it’s important that today’s leaders fuel the next generation of food innovators with the skills of cultivating creativity, intuition, curiosity and imagination. Why? Because these skills cannot be programmed. AI, as of yet, cannot replace these skills. 

There’s so much opportunity for the dairy industry to use ingredient technology to innovate, to keep dairy relevant. Be brave. 

“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice,” said Wardle. “It’s conformity.”

Here’s some positive messaging coming out of the Center for Science in the Public Interest on “Can you become more tolerant of lactose?” Link HERE.

And more great news from Progressive Grocer about “Winning over the ‘not-milk’ generation.” Link HERE.

Lynn Petrak writes, “Processors and industry groups are focusing on attention-getting marketing campaigns and product innovations, among other efforts, in the wake of shifts in beverage preferences. In a widely shared article earlier this year, The New York Times underlined market challenges, pointing out that younger Gen Z consumers have been dubbed the ‘not milk’ generation for buying 20% less cow’s milk than average consumers in 2022. Among other reasons, the story cited this demographic’s lactose intolerance rates, their concerns about the dairy industry’s impact on climate change, and the taste of the low-fat and skim milk that they were served in schools. Despite these and other issues, the article noted that the fact that milk is a naturally derived and nutritionally rich product can be an enticing proposition among all age groups.”

One of the biggest enticements is milk’s protein content, including its quality and completeness. Currently the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is used to assess the quality of all protein. This score is an adjustment for the quality of the protein. It is based on the types and amounts of amino acids in the food as well as the overall digestibility. The PDCAAS values range from 0.0 to 1.0, where values are truncated to a maximum score of 1.00, which cows milk, casein, whey, eggs and soy protein all possess. Most plant protein sources have much lower values.  

The % Daily Value for protein is determined using PDCAAS. A yogurt containing 10 grams of milk protein may make an “excellent source of protein” claim. A cultured vegan product with 10 grams of protein from peas and nuts most likely only qualifies for a “good source of protein” claim, and when doing so, should not flag 10 grams of protein per serving, as this is misleading. 

Let’s get more creative with milk proteins. The time is now.

1 comment:

  1. A great wrap up to IFT, Donna! It was great to see you! (hugs)