Friday, April 19, 2024

“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery.” This is so true for dairy foods.


“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” It’s sometimes a challenge to handle copycats with a smile. Think back to when refrigerated orange juice started including calcium. That ticked dairy farmers and processors off.

Now it’s the plant-based beverages touting various qualities inherent to fluid milk, namely protein content, as a number of brands have been aggressively improving the nutrition profile of their product. To do so, it takes a number of ingredients, which contributes to a lengthier ingredient statement. And guess what? Consumers are catching on.

Trend #1: Ingredient Lists are Gaining Attention. 

“While the nutrition panel has long ranked #1 in information consumers looked for on labels, ingredients have jumped ahead in importance,” according to Julie Johnson, president, HealthFocus International. “Many consumers may now realize that the nutrition panel, which reports on just a handful of nutrients, could look very similar for two products that vary dramatically in ingredient purity.”

Globally, consumers in 17 of 23 countries ranked ingredients above nutrition as highly important packaging information, according to HealthFocus. This is huge for dairy, where products like fluid milk, may simply list “milk” or “milk and vitamin D.”

Here’s where that flattery adage comes into play again, but now with the tables turned. Plant-based beverages are very proud of their lactose-free composition. In fact, for many consumers, lactose-free is the appeal in these beverages. It’s no wonder that fluid milk processors decided it’s alright to add one more ingredient to this very simple product. That’s lactase.  

Trend #2: Lactose Free Dairy (and there will be more on this trend in next week’s blog).

Clover Sonoma, a trailblazer in sustainable and regenerative farming has a refreshed line of Organic Lactose Free Milk in Whole, 2% Reduced Fat and three 2% flavors: Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla. The milk comes from pasture-raised cows raised at local, American Humane Certified organic farms.

“Research shows a demand for value-added milk across the organic, lactose-free and flavored categories,” said Susan Shields, vice president of marketing and innovation. “With this lineup, we deliver on all of those requests and more. Those looking for lactose-free options can still benefit from the nutrition milk has to offer, like protein, calcium and vitamins A and D, while our flavored milks also offer a delicious option with no or low added sugars.”

Trend #3: Dairy Proteins and Bioactives. 

Again, here’s where that flattery adage comes into play. The copycat is in the form of using precision fermentation to produce whey proteins, casein proteins and various bioactives, including lactoferrin. The fact is that the biotech folks recognize that dairy proteins and bioactives are superior ingredients. And when there’s a couple more billion people on this planet in 25 years or so—and in places where there are no cows--there will not be enough fresh cows’ milk to provide these amazing nutrients. Thank you, precision fermentation. Countries like the UAE, which currently import about 90% of all food will be able to build bioreactors and produce these amazing dairy nutrients.  

Real dairy proteins and bioactives are not going away. Now’s the time to be increasing the dairy protein content of your dairy foods and talking about it…loudly!

FYI, fermentation without the “precision” has been around forever. That’s how grapes turn into wine, bread rises and kombucha becomes effervescent and probiotic. Precision fermentation is, as the name suggests, more precise. It’s calculated technology.  

In precision fermentation, bioengineering techniques are used to program microorganisms by giving them a specific genetic code to produce a compound of interest when fermented under precise conditions. The genetic code is the exact copy of the DNA sequence found in a digitized database on animal or plant DNA sequence; however, it requires no animal or plant involvement. The result is the molecularly identical ingredient made by microorganisms. 

Trend #4: Yogurt Is Getting a Makeover. 

My colleague Sarah Straughn at Food Business News just wrote an article—with a slideshow of recent rollouts-- on yogurt getting a makeover. You can access it HERE.  

“Yogurt is evolving as dairy manufacturers tap into consumer interest in health, eating occasions and functional ingredients,” wrote Straughn.

Trend #5: Dairy Processors Betting on Health and Wellness for Growth. 

And I just wrote an article for Food Business News on this topic. You can access it HERE.

Health and wellness is the number-one area for consumer disposable income spending, according to research from Dairy Management Inc. The farmer-funded association is investing in efforts to get dairy to be a bigger part of the health and wellness platform through new product innovation. Key areas for innovation are hydration, growth, performance, weight loss and weight management.  

Some recent dairy innovations to support these health and wellness platforms include GoodSport,  a clear hydration beverage that is 97% dairy. It delivers three times the electrolytes and 33% less sugar than traditional sports drinks, providing faster and longer-lasting hydration. 

Another is Protality, a new dairy-based, high-protein nutrition shake from Abbott. The shelf-stable beverage is formulated to support the growing number of adults interested in pursuing weight loss while maintaining muscle mass and good nutrition. That’s the power of dairy proteins. 

Need assistance with your next powerhouse dairy product innovation? Plan to attend this short course: Yogurt, Fermented Milks and Probiotic Dairy Products at the University of California. It is sponsored by the California Dairy Innovation Center and organized in collaboration with the University of California-Davis, the Dairy Council of California and the California Dairy Research Foundation, with support from the Pacific Coast Coalition. For more information, link HERE. As one of the speakers, I hope to see you there.

No comments:

Post a Comment