Friday, July 14, 2023

IFT FIRST: New Food Formats are the Future


General Mills continues to grow its :ratio line of keto-friendly foods. The brand’s mantra is “We know making daily food choices can be a tricky equation. That’s why we’ve done the math for you, so you can spend less time reading labels and more time living. Ratio strikes a unique combination of protein, net carbs and sugar. With a focus on carefully selected ingredients, it’s a great snack to help keep you going.”

Dairy and plant proteins unite in the new Cheddar Cranberry Savory Nut and Cheese Bar. The ingredients are: Almonds, Soy Protein Isolate, Cranberries (sugar, cranberries), Dried Cheddar Cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), Canola Oil, Salt, Buttermilk, Whey, Soy Lecithin, Annatto Extract (for color). 

The “food as medicine” mantra continues to fuel innovations for people, pets and the planet. “Good nutrition is foundational for human health, and one of the top modifiable risk factors for death and disability across the world,” according to the 2021 Global Nutrition Report (

While many of you who are attending IFT FIRST (Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology) in Chicago starting this weekend will be looking to ingredient suppliers for technologies to assist with improving bottom lines and securing your supply chain, do not forget to prioritize consumers’ unmet nutritional needs, which are slowly reshaping the food and beverage industry. 

In case you missed the big news, all those dairy innovations in your queue should be using whole milk. 

A new study published in the European Heart Journal (, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology, found that whole-fat dairy foods can help to prevent heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. This finding comes from experts who created a dietary ranking named the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) Healthy Diet Score. The PURE diet finds six food groups--fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and whole-fat dairy--can lower the risk of heart disease. The researchers developed the PURE healthy diet based on an analysis of 245,000 people in 80 countries around the world.

“Low-fat foods have taken center stage with the public, food industry and policymakers, with nutrition labels focused on reducing fat and saturated fat,” said study author Dr. Andrew Mente of the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. “Our findings suggest that the priority should be increasing protective foods such as nuts (often avoided as too energy dense), fish and dairy, rather than restricting dairy (especially whole fat) to very low amounts. Our results show that up to two servings a day of dairy, mainly whole fat, can be included in a healthy diet. This is in keeping with modern nutrition science showing that dairy, particularly whole fat, may protect against high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.”

The PURE diet recommends two-to-three daily servings of fruit; two-to-three daily servings of vegetables; three-to-four weekly servings of legumes; seven weekly servings of nuts; two-to-three weekly servings of fish; and 14 weekly servings of dairy products (mainly whole fat). That’s right, 14!

When you explore ingredient technologies at IFT FIRST, ask yourself, how can I use this to make new full-fat, nutrient-dense dairy foods? 

The Three Themes of IFT FIRST
Last month I identified the three themes that will dominate IFT FIRST 2023. They are focusing on the health of the planet, ingredients for improving energy and focus, and prioritizing gut health. To read the complete blog, link HERE

I encourage innovators to approach these three themes with an open eye. Think beyond the scope of what you know and identify new finished product concepts. 
From all the previews I’ve received from IFT FIRST exhibitors, I can confirm there’s a strong toolbox of ingredients at your disposal. There’s nothing “real” new, more like fine-tuned recent innovations, namely in the fiber, plant protein and non-sugar natural sweetener sectors. Think allulose, monk fruit and stevia. 

Sustainability messaging will dominate the conversation. It will be a way one supplier tries to differentiate from another. And surprisingly, it may be less about plant-based ingredients and more about reducing food waste. Many suppliers will address the topic of doing more with less food by reducing waste, extending shelf life and improving processing efficiencies. 

Focus on the suppliers who may assist with helping your brand make a sustainability claim. 

As I wrote in an article on sourcing sustainable ingredients for Food Business News (date of publication: July 18, 2023), “The word sustainable has become the go-to descriptor for food and beverage marketers. While not regulated—therefore one cannot accuse misuse of the term—it is being overused and just a matter of time before consumers start asking for data to support sustainability statements. Brands must do their due diligence and be ready to answer questions.” 

“Food scientists need new sustainable tools in their toolbox to create delicious new products that make a positive impact on the environment,” said Jaime Reeves, executive vice president of product development and commercialization, Mattson Co., Foster City, Calif. “It’s all about better-for-the-planet ingredients. This includes upcycling, regenerative agriculture, lower carbon emissions, lower water usage and more.”

Bringing that closer to home, Mars Inc., is now using 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. This is being communicated to consumers.  

This week, Nestlé announced that it is investing to help bring regenerative agriculture practices to wheat farms within its DIGIORNO supply chain, with the goal of improving soil, using less water, energy and fertilizer, and helping reduce the impacts of climate change. The initiative will bring regenerative agriculture practices to over 100,000 acres of farmland, nearly double the amount of acres needed to grow the amount of wheat used in DIGIORNO pizza. (Lots of cheese goes on those pizzas!) The work will help the company accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture in its supply chain.

“At Nestlé our aim is to help leave the world better than we found it, and as the world’s largest food and beverage company, we have a tremendous opportunity to help create a regenerative, healthy food system while also working with the local farming communities that employ it,” said Steve Presley, CEO, Nestlé Zone North America. “To do this we need to find solutions that create shared value throughout the ecosystem, value for us, value for farmers, value for our consumers, and value for the planet. This investment in wheat producers is just one example of how we are bringing this commitment to life across our supply chain.”

Nestlé was the first company to join the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative. In 2021, a Carnation supplier in Modesto, Calif., became the first farm to join a pilot program implementing sustainable technologies and farming practices that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prove it can be done in an economical way.

Nestlé Health Science is collaborating with Royal Dairy farm in Royal City, Wash., to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the U.S Dairy Net Zero Initiative. Royal Dairy joins Nestlé Health Science’s family of dairy suppliers for Carnation Breakfast Essentials nutritional powder drink mix.

This Sunday, July 16, is National Ice Cream Day. 
Treat Yourself!
So, once again, I am bringing this all a bit closer to home, my amazing town, Sweet Home, Chicago. If you are in town this weekend, head over to Navy Pier for a celebration of ice cream. The “Sweeten Your Summer with Blue Bunny and Halo Top” show will take place at 9:45 pm on July 15 at the 3,300-foot-long pier located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. 

Wells Enterprises, which was acquired by the Ferrero Group in July 2022, is sponsoring the event. Navy Pier’s first-ever drone light show will precede Chicago’s regularly scheduled Saturday fireworks display at 10 pm.
The production will consist of 10 minutes of ice cream-themed animations in recognition of July as National Ice Cream Month and July 16 as National Ice Cream Day. Three hundred drones will illuminate the sky, spinning at over 20,000 revolutions per minute. The show will end with the drones forming a scannable QR code large enough to cover an entire city block. That will give guests access to a special offer at Albertsons Cos.’ Jewel-Osco just in time for National Ice Cream Day.

In addition, Blue Bunny and Halo Top will host a free ice cream social from 1 to 3 pm on July 15 in the Polk Bros Park at the entrance to Navy Pier. Guests can enjoy a treat-sized Bomb Pop, Blue Ribbon Classics, Halo Top or Blue Bunny ice cream and then explore Navy Pier ahead of the main event at night.

Separately, Halo Top has launched a new item for the most fashionable of ice cream lovers: the Halo Top Pint Pack. This accessory is designed to carry a single pint of ice cream and keep it cold anywhere you go from the pool to the hiking trail to the beach.

Hope to see you at Navy Pier and at IFT FIRST! 

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