Friday, February 27, 2015

Sourcing Non-GMO Ingredients—a Growing Trend in the Dairy Industry

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) promise to be a hot button at Natural Products Expo West/Engredia, which kicks off in less than a week in Anaheim. (Hope to see many of you there…looking forward to our “dates” Corrie and Trina!).

Some industries are more versed than others on the GMO topic and have been quite proactive with sourcing non-GMO ingredients. Dairy is starting to come around, which is why sourcing non-GMO ingredients is something you might want to consider as you move forward with your product development efforts.

Background Information
What exactly are GMOs? They are plants and animals created through the use of genetic engineering, bioengineering or biotechnology. These technologies merge molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from the genes of different plant and animal species to create new life forms that previously did not exist in nature. These are forms that could not be created through traditional crossbreeding techniques.

GMOs did not come into being to make a few people rich by “poisoning” the world, as some activists preach. GMOs, like vaccines for humans, which we are hearing a lot about these days, are the result of advancements in science to make life better. GMOs assist farmers and ranchers with economically producing enough food to feed the Earth’s growing human population. With plants, genetic modification can make them resistant to deleterious infestation. The science helps plants grow better in extreme weather conditions, and even possibly in lands other than their natural environment…all with the goal to feed the hungry. 

It’s important to understand that FDA does not require foods to be labeled as having been produced with GMO ingredients because it has found that there is no material difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. In other words, a GMO food or ingredient is just as safe and nutritious as its non-GMO counterpart.

But…and that’s a big but, there are many consumers opposed to such advancements in science. In particular, the millennial generation. And GMOs are expected to become a greater consumer concern, as well as a deterrent to purchase, in the near future.

According to February 2014 data from The Hartman Group, 33% of consumers are deliberately avoiding GMOs. And according to a recent study conducted by Consumer Report, more than 70% of consumers believe it’s important to avoid GMOs.

This interest in avoiding GMOs is likely in part due to Whole Foods Market’s announcement in 2013 of its commitment to full GMO transparency. By Whole Foods making GMOs an issue, it became an industry issue.

The natural foods grocer gave its supplier partners five years (by 2018) to source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products with ingredients containing GMOs. Whole Foods recognizes the switch is a complicated issue and could require formulation changes.

To watch a video about non-GMO ingredient production and sourcing, link HERE.

According to the Packaged Facts report “Non-GMO Foods: Global Market Perspective,” non-GMO foods represented about 11% of the global market. “However, this market exists largely under the rubric of organic products, and the question remains whether non-GMO will simply bolster the case for organics, or truly mark a fork in the road for the food industry,” says David Sprinkle, research director.

The leading category for non-GMO product introductions globally are those products found in…you guessed it…the dairy case. “From 2009 to 2013, the dairy case accounted for 19% of non-GMO new product introductions globally, though only for 7% of those in the U.S.,” Sprinkle says.

GMOs and Dairy Foods
To assist the dairy industry with better understanding how all this GMO activity impacts day-to-day business, Dairy Management Inc., the International Dairy Foods Association (thanks Cary for sharing!), the National Milk Producers Federation, MilkPEP and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, compiled a list of facts.

Here are some key things to know:

  • Currently no cloning or genetic engineering of cows takes place in commercial dairy cow breeding. 
  • Milk is not genetically modified, but the feed for the cows on dairy farms can be grown from genetically modified seeds.
  • Genetically modified crops allow farmers to grow feed and foods more efficiently using the same amount of land to maximize crop yields and minimize usage of water and other natural resources.
  • Scientific experts have confirmed that the crops are safe and provide the same nutrition, for animals and people, as other crops.

The LA Times published an informative article on this topic. To read it, link HERE.

Here are some points of clarification:

  • On certified-organic dairy farms, the feed comes from crops that are not genetically modified.  
  • Cows on dairy farms across America eat feed that’s made of hay, corn and grains, much of which is grown from genetically modified seeds. Some cows graze on pasture too, but it’s not practical in many locations and climates. Scientific experts and health organizations have confirmed that genetically modified crops are safe and provide the same nutrition, for animals and people, as other crops. Importantly, because cows digest the feed completely, the milk itself isn’t any different; there’s no modification, genetic or otherwise, in the product.
  • Research confirms the milk is no different, whether the dairy cows were fed conventional or genetically modified feeds. 

For additional resources compiled by Federation of Animal Science Societies, link HERE.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, FDA and the three states (Connecticut, Vermont and Maine) that do have GMO-labeling laws do NOT consider the feed the cows eat as part of GMO. It’s only the actual food and the ingredients. Because milk is not genetically altered, it is not considered. However, the Non-GMO Project and various activists do want the feed to be considered.

Did you know that Australia is a GMO-free country? This means that all Australian cheese, as is or in ingredient format, is GMO free, as exemplified in the Old Croc line.

For more information on non-GMO cheese ingredients, here’s an article I recently wrote for Food Business News entitled “A flavor of cheese for every food.” Link HERE.

Look Who is Non-GMO
As mentioned, certified organic dairy products, by definition are void of any GMOs. Because organic milk is at a premium, processors are choosing to source (and flag on product labels) specific ingredients that today’s consumers want, or claim to want. For long this was limited to milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones. In the past few years, this list has grown to include artificial ingredients such as some sweeteners, flavors and colors. Now we are seeing processors choose ingredients free from GMOs.

Maia Yogurt, marketed by Healthy Mom LLC, recently received non-GMO Project verified certification for the six core flavors of its non-fat Greek yogurt line.

“Our mission is to bring the most delicious and nutritious local grass-fed cow’s milk yogurt to consumers,” says Hamilton Colwell, founder of Maia Yogurt. “Non-GMO Project verification is a big step towards earning their whole-hearted trust, and we are thrilled to offer our customers and trade partners assurance that we produce the highest quality and healthiest products possible.”

The Non-GMO Project offers North America’s only independent verification for products without GMOs. The process for Maia’s Non-GMO Project verification lasted 16 months, during which their ingredients underwent a rigorous series of audits and tests to ensure that they follow industry best practices for GMO avoidance—including testing, traceability and segregation.

“We care greatly about our customers and their health, and we have made significant efforts to create the best product possible. Many dairy manufacturers cannot receive Non-GMO Project verification due to the co-mingling of milk,” said Colwell.

The yogurts’ label reads: “rBST-free, made from grass-fed cows milk from family farms, not treated with hormones.” It also includes a non-GMO call out. And those varieties that have been verified will soon include the Non-GMO Project verified checkmark.

The first Non-GMO Project verified Greek yogurt came from Stonyfield Farm. Brown Cow Non-GMO 0% Fat Greek Yogurt is sold exclusively through Whole Foods. In fact, it was a direct response to Whole Foods’ GMO transparency announcement, as when that announcement was made, the natural foods retailer stopped selling Chobani Greek yogurt to make room for non-GMO alternatives, in particular Brown Cow Greek yogurt.

In a statement, Whole Foods said it “challenged its Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for its shoppers to enjoy, including exclusive flavors, non-GMO options and organic choices. Chobani has chosen not to differentiate in this way, so Whole Foods Market will be phasing Chobani Greek yogurt out of its stores in early 2014 to make room for other product choices that aren’t readily available on the market.”

Some processors find value in sourcing and flagging the use of non-GMO ingredients without Non-GMO Project verification. This is particularly true with crops that are questionable. For example, with about 90% of U.S. corn crops being genetically modified, any corn-based ingredient can deter a GMO-avoider from purchase. 

This inspired the manufacturers of Enlightened Ice Cream to use non-GMO soluble corn fiber in order to provide 5 grams of fiber in every 75-gram stick novelty. Each bar in the seven-flavor line (Coffee, Fudge, Mint, Orange Cream, Peanut Butter, Toasted Almond and Vanilla Bean) also contains a mere 70 to 80 calories, 2 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar and 8 to 9 grams of protein, depending on variety.

It’s not surprising that the original socially and health-conscious ice cream marketer, Ben & Jerry’s, is a huge supporter of mandatory GMO labeling and a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food. Ben & Jerry’s is not Non-GMO Project verified but the brand speaks for itself. The company discusses GMO transparency in length on its website, which can be accessed HERE.

Hope to see you in Anaheim!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Many Shades of the DGAC Report, including a Colorful Opportunity with Dairy Foods for Kids

Before I get into dairy foods for children, let’s talk Dietary Guidelines.

In case you have not heard, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) submitted its report to the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday, Feb. 19, 2015. The purpose of the advisory report is to inform the federal government of current scientific evidence on topics related to diet, nutrition and health. It provides the federal government with a foundation for developing national nutrition policy. The report is not the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy or a draft of the policy. The federal government will determine how it will use the information in the report as the government develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans forms the basis of federal nutrition policy, education, outreach and food assistance programs used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators and health professionals. HHS and USDA will jointly release the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 later this year.

To access the DGAC report in its entirety, link HERE.

During the next few weeks, we will hear and read many opinions and interpretations (these are those “shades” I refer to in the headline) of the DGAC report and its implications on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. Some will be the obvious, others hopeful and still others a stretch of the imagination.

My colleague Jeff Gelski at Food Business News wrote a comprehensive summary entitled "Let the debate begin--Dietary guidelines recommendations released." You can read it HERE.

Here are a few snippets on how dairy fared in the report.

Soon after it was released, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation and Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association jointly released these statements:

“The essential role of dairy foods, as part of dietary patterns that foster good health outcomes, is supported by the totality of the science—low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products are a core component of the healthy dietary patterns identified by the Committee.”

“The good news for people across the country is that milk, cheese and yogurt not only taste great, but also are nutrient-rich, affordable, readily available and versatile, making dairy foods realistic options to help people build healthier meal plans. Milk is the number one source of nine essential nutrients in the diets of America’s children—including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, three of the four nutrients the 2015 DGAC found to be under-consumed. Dairy foods’ nutrient package can be hard to replace with other foods.”

“We will provide science-based comments on the advisory report during the current public comment period and look forward to the release of the
2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document later this year.”

(Photo source: Aramark) 

From the advisory report executive summary, here are lines 61 to 74:

“…the majority of the U.S. population has low intakes of key food groups that are important sources of the shortfall nutrients, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy. Furthermore, population intake is too high for refined grains and added sugars. The data suggest cautious optimism about dietary intake of the youngest members of the U.S. population because many young children ages 2 to 5 years consume recommended amounts of fruit and dairy. However, a better understanding is needed on how to maintain and encourage good habits that are started early in life. Analysis of data on food categories, such as burgers, sandwiches, mixed dishes, desserts, and beverages, shows that the composition of many of these items could be improved so as to increase population intake of vegetables, whole grains, and other under-consumed food groups and to lower population intake of the nutrients sodium and saturated fat, and the food component refined grains. Improved beverage selections that limit or remove sugar-sweetened beverages and place limits on sweets and desserts would help lower intakes of the food component, added sugars.

And lines 359 to 364:

The Committee encourages the food industry to continue reformulating and making changes to certain foods to improve their nutrition profile. Examples of such actions include lowering sodium and added sugars content, achieving better saturated fat to polyunsaturated fat ratio and reducing portion sizes in retail settings (restaurants, food outlets and public venues, such as professional sports stadiums and arenas). The Committee also encourages the food industry to market these improved products to consumers.

That brings me to children, the focus of this blog.

I would like to reference two recent articles I wrote for Food Business News.

There’s “Beverages for Boys and Girls,” which can be accessed HERE.

And there’s “Colorful Ways to Quench Thirst,” which can be accessed HERE.

Here’s the deal with kids’ foods. It’s a huge market and one that continues to grow.

My friends over at Packaged Facts explain that the kids’ food and beverage category includes products that have a taste kids love, nutrition kids need or entertainment kids crave. Taste alone is not sufficient to qualify a product as being for kids. The product must meet at least one other criterion—nutrition or entertainment.

Further, Packaged Facts estimates that kids’ foods and beverages, so defined, account for roughly 3.5% of total retail sales of foods and beverages, with nearly $23.2 billion in 2013 sales.

And the market is growing. Packaged Facts projects retail sales of kids’ foods and beverages to grow to a value of $29.8 billion by 2018, driven by continued economic recovery, strong new product development and increased demand for health and wellness products suitable for growing kids. The competitive landscape surrounding the kids’ food and beverage market is expected to intensify, as marketers from other consumer product goods categories will look for their share of the “family” consumer dollar. As a result, Packaged Facts projects that the kids’ food and beverage market will continue to gain momentum. (Source: The Kids Food and Beverage Market in the U.S., 7th Edition)

The GREAT news is that EVERYTHING DAIRY is a major driver of this growth.

For 2013, Packaged Facts estimated that kids’ dairy products had retail sales accounting for almost 27% share of the entire kids’ food and beverage market. That’s right, more than one-fourth of the category.

So that brings me to some recent rollouts for this segment…and what they are doing right.

The Yoplait brand offers refrigerated yogurt described as “A flurry of fun! Frolic in the snow with Anna, Olaf and Elsa as you celebrate the magic of Frozen.” The Disney-themed yogurts come in blueberry and strawberry flavors. Sold in eight packs of 4-ounce cups, packages tout the fact that they contain only natural colors and flavors and no high-fructose corn syrup. Each single-serve cup contains only 100 calories and is loaded with live and active cultures, enough to meet the National Yogurt Association criteria for Live and Active Culture Yogurt. A serving is also a good source of vitamins A and D, while being gluten free and kosher dairy.

America’s number-one Greek yogurt brand—Chobani--has a major portfolio expansion along with new marketing initiatives to continue its category leadership and deliver on its mission to provide better food for more people...including the youngest members of the household.

Its new platform designed specifically for kids and tots--Chobani Kids and Chobani Tots—is Greek yogurt in convenient single-serve pouches. The packaging prominently features iconic Disney and Marvel characters, such as Winnie the Pooh and Spider-Man.
Chobani Kids offers 8 grams of protein and 25% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt in kid-approved flavors, empowering kids to choose naturally delicious snacks, according to the company. Flavors are Banana, Chocolate Dust, Grape, Strawberry and Watermelon.

Chobani Tots is whole milk Greek yogurt blended with real fruits and vegetables. The yogurt is also enhanced with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is associated with cognitive development. Varieties are Banana & Pumpkin and Mango & Spinach.

Launched on Mother’s Day 2006, Happy Family is the first organic brand to offer a complete line of nutrient-rich foods for babies, toddlers and young children. In 2014, the company added Happy Child Super Nutrition Shakes to its product lineup. Available in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors, each 8.25-ounce aseptic shake is packed with 8 grams of protein, along with 21 vitamins and minerals. A serving is an excellent source of calcium.

WhiteWave Foods now sells Horizon Cheese Shapes for snacking. There are two offerings. Cheddar comes in stars and flowers, while Colby comes in squares and triangles. The new snacking cheeses are sold in 5.5-ounce multi-serving bags that include a callout of “good source of protein.”

U.K.’s Ambrosia Creamery introduces a dairy dessert designed for youngsters. The innovative mini pots are unique to the ambient desserts category. There are six pots per pack, with each 55-gram pot being the perfect size for small appetites, making them a great addition to kids’ lunch boxes, according to the company. The puddings are specially formulated with calcium and vitamin D to promote strong bone growth in children. They contain no preservatives, or artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.

Yabon Baby Corp., introduced Sunny Yummy dairy puddings this past summer. This shelf-stable dairy snack offers more protein and less sugar per serving than any other portable puddings, yet tastes like a gourmet treat, according to the company. Made from at least 80% fresh skim milk and sweetened with stevia, the grab-and-go products are low in fat and contain no artificial flavor or colors. Sunny Yummy dairy pudding pouches come in five flavors: Chocolate Caramel, Cinnamon, Lemon, Strawberry and Vanilla.

The U.K.’s Happy Monkey markets all-natural dairy beverages designed for young taste buds. The smoothies were first introduced in 2009, while the milkshakes entered the U.K. market this past year. Both products are shelf stable (for about 4 months) until opened, and best served chilled.

The fat-free smoothies come in 180-milliliter packs in three different varieties: Apple & Blackcurrant, Orange & Mango and Strawberry & Banana. Each pack contains about 100 calories and no added sweeteners. Sweetness comes only from 100% fruit juice. The milkshakes come in 200-milliliter prisma-style cartons in Chocolate and Strawberry varieties. Each carton contains 140 calories and 3 grams of fat.

There’s a common theme with these products: keep the formulations simple and clean. Avoid artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Let’s keep the youngest members of households consumers of dairy for life. This can be accomplished by not just encouraging good habits early in life, but offering them products that maintain these habits forever. There are many shades of opportunity for dairy foods.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Loving Ice Cream--What to Expect in Summer 2015

The days are longer. The sun is warmer. Ice cream season is near.

Though ice cream is enjoyed all year long, sales do tend to peak during the balmy, hot summer months. This, of course, did not happen in many major cities around the U.S., and for that matter around the world, in 2014. An unseasonably cool summer, combined with astronomical butterfat prices equated to a tough year for ice cream.

Well, I’ve been told by many that 2015 is going to be a much better year. One of the key drivers is the Millennial demographic who finds ice cream to be an ideal dessert as well as an any-time-of-day treat. But not just any ice cream. Read more about what makes Millennials tick.

Understanding Millennials
Born between 1979 and 2000, the Millennial consumer entered a world of infinite choice. Their parents taught them that customization is a necessity not a luxury. (Did you know there are 87,000 possible beverage combinations at Starbucks?)

Millennials (80 million) will comprise more than one-third of the U.S. population this year, eclipsing Baby Boomers (76 million) in number and importance. They are projected to outnumber non-Millennials by 2030.

Every year, more of the Millennial demographic enters the workplace, marries and starts a family. As the purchasing power of these self-proclaimed foodies increases, the culinary scene is adapting to meet their evolving cravings.

According to The Hartman Group Inc., with globalization and digitalization, Millennial palates are experiencing new flavors and textures from around the world on a daily basis. “They have turned toward a whole new world of bold flavors, textures, juxtapositions and techniques,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO. “They want to be delighted and entertained by the ‘new’ and re-imagined ‘old.’”

The Hartman Group conducted research for the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) on Millennials and their food purchase habits. For more information on the report, link HERE.

The consumer survey results indicate that 45% of Millennials wants to try anything new and different, as compared to 35% for Gen X and 25% for Boomers. They are more mindful of health, social and environmental issues surrounding their food (See chart.) This influences purchase decision.

Millennials seek out foods made with natural and organic ingredients and are free of GMOs and allergens. Local is very important.
Source: The Hartman Group, Outlook on the Millennial Consumer 2014 (n=2,155 U.S. adults)

Here’s a real life example. At the Dairy Council of California Functional Foods Task Force meeting earlier this week, a fellow board member shared an example of how Millennials think. She said that at her office, when it’s someone’s birthday, a cake has historically been purchased at Costco to celebrate. A Millennial in her office asked that going forward, cakes be purchased from a local family bakery. He even offered to pay the difference, as it was that important.  

The food choice factors identified by The Hartman Group are very apparent in today’s restaurant scene.

“As consumers today increasingly incorporate restaurants into their daily lives, they want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association (NRA). “So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space.”   

Every year, NRA gets in the kitchen with chefs to reveal the top menu trends for the coming year. For its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, the NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs--members of the American Culinary Federation--to find which foods, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015.

For complete What’s Hot in 2015 results, link HERE.

The NRA surveyed 1,276 American Culinary Federation members from October to November 2014, asking them to rate 231 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2015.

On the dessert menu, the What’s Hot in 2015 survey predicts “house-made/artisan ice cream” to be the top trend. Gelato remains popular in the #9 spot.

For the first time, the What’s Hot survey highlights overarching trends to watch in 2015. They are:
  • Environmental sustainability remains among the hottest trends, with restaurateurs focusing on food waste reduction as a way to both go green and manage rising food costs. 
  • Hyper-local sourcing continues to gain momentum with restaurants including house-made, farm-branded and artisan items.
  • Children’s meals are becoming increasingly gourmet and healthful, as well as more adventurous in flavor profiles. 
  • Ethnic cuisines are continuing to become more mainstream and ethnic ingredients such as cheeses, flour and condiments are increasingly being used in non-ethnic dishes.
  • Common preparation methods are returning with a new twist, such as pickling with specialty vinegars and fermented flavor profiles.
When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, nutrition and ethnic cuisines and flavors. These are all attributes that translate to retail dairy foods, in particular ice cream.

So what’s going to be hot this ice cream season?

If you did not read my Ice Cream Flavor Forecast for 2015, link HERE.

Many predictions are already coming to fruition, in particular caramel.

If you missed last week’s blog on how caramel and dairy are the perfect marriage, link HERE.

Häagen-Dazs is right on track with reaching out to the Millennials with its new Artisan Collection ice cream line. The brand teamed up with small confection makers from around the country to craft six gourmet flavors that come in 3.6-oz. (single-serve) and 14-oz. containers.

The varieties are:

Another on-track line comes from two-time James Beard Award-winning chef and author Nancy Silverton. Created from recipes inspired by the well-loved desserts served at her acclaimed restaurants, the Nancy’s Fancy collection is churned in Southern California and is made with only the freshest, locally sourced, natural ingredients and pasteurized, artificial growth hormone-free milk, according to the company. The line contains no added preservatives, artificial flavors, colors or high fructose corn syrup.

Nancy’s Fancy is launching with seven flavors and will debut special new varieties quarterly. The flavors are: Butterscotch Budino with Salted Caramel Swirl, Chocolate Rum Fondente with Dark Rum and Chocolate Chips, Chunky Salted Peanut Butter with Crunchy Chocolate, Coconut Stracciatella with Bittersweet Chocolate Strands, Frutti di Bosco (Greek Yogurt and Mixed Berries), Roasted Banana with Bourbon & Pecan Praline and Stumptown Spiced Coffee with Cracked Cocoa Nibs. Nancy’s Fancy will be available across the U.S. in spring 2015 and will retail for $10.99 per pint.

Pierre’s Ice Cream has partnered with Cleveland celebrity chef Steve Schimoler, chef and owner of Crop Bistro & Bar and Crop Kitchen, to create two new flavors for its Pierre’s Chef’s Signature Ultimate Ice Cream Pints line. The two tasty dessert creations were invented and served by Schimoler at his Crop Bistro restaurant.

The two flavors are: Croppy Road, which features chocolate ice cream, chocolate-covered marshmallow cups, almonds and a smoky salted caramel swirl; and Holé Molé, which is cinnamon ice cream blended with chili choco chips, chocolate-covered toffee pieces and molé fudge swirl. The Chef’s Signature line and original Signature Ultimate Ice Cream line can be found in most stores where Pierre’s is sold and retails for approximately $4.99 per pint.

HP Hood’s 2015 ice cream flavor lineup includes Limited-Edition Jelly Donut Ice Cream, which is vanilla ice cream swirled with raspberry, rainbow sprinkles and donut pieces; and Limited-Edition Fried Ice Cream, which is cinnamon caramel ice cream swirled with caramel and cinnamon crust pieces.

Many of Hood’s new innovations emphasize chocolate. The lineup includes Chocolate Marshmallow Swirl Ice Cream (chocolate ice cream swirled with marshmallow), New England Creamery Nantucket Nutty Cone Sundae Ice Cream (vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel and chocolate-covered peanuts and chocolate-covered waffle cone pieces) and Low-fat Chocolate Hazelnut Chip Frozen Yogurt (chocolate hazelnut low-fat frozen yogurt with chocolate chips).

Frozen yogurt, in particular Greek frozen yogurt, continues to experience innovation in the retail sector. In fact, The Dannon Company, which entered the category in May 2014 with six flavors of Dannon Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt, is adding three new varieties: Cookies & Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, and surprise, surprise, Salted Caramel. All varieties have half the fat of regular ice cream and 6 grams of protein in every half-cup serving.

Ben & Jerry’s is growing its Core line with Cookie Core. The concept includes a core center down the middle of each flavor. The new Cookie Core varieties are Spectacular Speculoos (dark caramel and vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies and a speculoos cookie butter core) and Boom Chocolatta (mocha and caramel ice creams with chocolate cookies and fudge flakes and a chocolate cookie core).

Herbs and spices provide an element of health and wellness to an indulgent dessert. A little goes a long way in terms of taste. Building on the salty caramel trend, the flavor of speculoos, a cookie from the Netherlands, is starting to become popular in the States. This shortcrust cookie has a sweet butter flavor and contains a spice blend consisting of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg. The speculoos flavor works great in ice cream and also makes a flavorful inclusion, possibly coated with caramel or chocolate.

Ginger, which is an important flavor in speculoos, is driving all types of flavor innovation because it provides two types of heat, one that’s refreshing and another that’s spicy. There’s also a healthful halo surrounding ginger, and it has strong ethnic associations. 

Kemps has a number of new flavors that complement the dessert-in-dessert trend. There’s Classic Chocolate Cupcake (chocolate cake-flavored ice cream swirled with white frosting and sprinkled with chocolate cupcake pieces) and Marshmallow Brownie (toasted marshmallow-flavored ice cream with thick fudge and chunks of brownies). And surprise, surprise, there’s a new caramel flavor, too. Vanilla Bean Caramel Crunch is sweet and salty ice cream swirled with vanilla bean caramel ribbon and vanilla bean candy crunch.

This final flavor--Tres Leches Brigadeiro from the Häagen-Dazs Artisan Collection--seems like the perfect treat to celebrate Valentine’s weekend. Brigadeiro (bree-gah-day-ro) is Brazil’s favorite and most traditional sweet. It is made from a mixture of chocolate, condensed milk and butter that is slowly cooked until it gets to the right consistency. Upon cooling, it is molded into a round shape and covered with chocolate sprinkles or nuts.

I do hope to see many subscribers at IDFA's Ice Cream Technology Conference this March 31 to April 1 in St. Petersburg, Fla. For more information , link HERE.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day…and be safe on Friday the 13th!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dairy Foods Innovations: Caramel and Dairy--The Perfect Marriage

Source: Groupe Danone

In case you have not noticed, caramel is one of the hottest flavor trends. Most recently, data from Datassential MenuTrends declared caramel to be the No. 3 dessert flavor on restaurant menus, right behind chocolate and vanilla.

According to an article published this week in Nation’s Restaurant News, chefs love caramel’s versatility while diners crave its sweetness. To read the entire article and get some new product ideas, link HERE.[timestamp]

Foodservice trends taper down to retail, which is why the flavor trend of caramel is one dairy processors cannot afford to ignore. For starters, traditional caramel confection is made with butter and cream (and lots of sugar), making it a natural inclusion in dairy foods. And for the most part, it is a clean and simple inclusion. It’s made with few ingredients using a simple cooking process and provides loads of color and flavor. When you factor in the indulgence caramel provides, along with how it melds well with so many other flavors and ingredients—from fruits to nuts—dairy processors have a dream ingredient to work with. Of course, in some applications, such as milk and creamer, a liquid caramel flavor—possibly along with caramel color—must substitute for the ooey and gooey confection.

Below are a dozen recent introductions focusing on the flavor of caramel. But before you check them out, here are three ideas I just came up with. I’m sure your innovation team can come up with many more. 

1)    Cream cheese or crème fraiche spread with a swirl of caramel—great on a bagel, for dipping pretzels or even a graham cracker
2)    Dual or even trio compartment of cottage cheese or rice pudding—caramel sauce on the side, maybe with chopped nuts, apple sauce or even chocolate flakes
3)    Layered yogurt parfaits with fruit and caramel

Promised Land, a premium brand of all-natural dairy products, just rolled out Salted Caramel Latte flavored milk. The first of three new limited-time flavors to launch in 2015, this variety features the flavors of rich caramel swirled into a café-style latte, topped with a pinch of gourmet salt and blended with Promised Land’s rich, wholesome Jersey milk. The new flavor retails for $2.99 for a quart size bottle, from now until April, or while supplies last.

Emmi has launched a brand of chocolate milk to sit alongside its existing chilled Caffè Latte coffee product line. Choco Lait, comes in Original and Caramel varieties, and is targeted to females as a healthy way to indulge. Made using carefully crafted ingredients, including Swiss chocolate and fresh Swiss milk, the finished taste is lighter, more refined and not too sweet, as compared to other chocolate milk drinks, according to the company.
Arctic Zero, the pioneer of “Fit Frozen Desserts” without all the fat and calories, unveiled its vibrant new look at the Winter Fancy Food Show in January. The elevated packaging puts a spotlight on the brand’s premium ingredients and indulgent offerings, featuring a refreshed logo, updated flavor names, descriptions, hand-drawn illustrations, original typography and organic, earth-toned colors. An emphasis has also been placed on each product’s core attributes with specially designed badges, as well as attention-grabbing lids and side panels that are artfully filled with unique drawings and bold phrases to call out each product’s flavor and dietary profile. Salted Caramel is one of the most recent flavor additions.

General Mills is rolling out Limited-Edition Yoplait Original Coconut Caramel 1% milkfat yogurt. Each 6-ounce cup contains 180 calories, 3 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein.

Sunshine Dairy is introducing three naturally flavored “real cream” coffee creamers. Sold in pint gable-top cartons to convey the “real cream” inside, the creamers come in Mayan Chocolate (has hints of cinnamon), Salted Caramel and Vanilla Stout (vanilla with hints of malt) varieties. Like its other dairy products, the creamers are cold crafted, using a batch pasteurization process of a lower temperature for a longer time followed by rapid cooling. This process is said to better preserve the flavor of milk and cream. The pints have a suggested retail price of $2.99.
The Dannon Company shows consumers that Greek yogurt can be an indulgent dairy snack. Oikos Caramel On Top is a new format of the popular high-protein yogurt. Each 5.3-ounce cup is Greek yogurt topped with a dollop of smooth creamy caramel. There are two flavors: Bananas Foster and Caramel Macchiato. Even with the extra layer of indulgence, the dairy snacks still pack in the protein, with each single-serve container providing 10 grams. A serving also contains 210 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

There’s also Dannon Creamery, which includes five cheesecake-inspired dairy desserts that use Greek yogurt as a base and then get topped with sauces, one being caramel. The other four are: blueberry, cherry, lemon and strawberry.

Tillamook recently introduced a line of Dessert Yogurts. The Salted Caramel variety is rich, farm-fresh dairy cream sweetened by caramelized brown sugar and buttery Madagascar vanilla. Each bite also contains a pinch of Mediterranean sea salt for a two-in-one taste sensation, according to the company. The other three varieties in the line are: Honey Cinnamon Crème Brulee, Oregon Strawberry Shortcake and Marionberry Cobbler.

America’s number-one Greek yogurt brand--Chobani--has a major portfolio expansion along with new marketing initiatives to continue its category leadership and deliver on its mission to provide better food for more people. Under its successful Chobani Flip Creations brands comes Salted Caramel Crunch. There’s also new Chobani Dulce de Leche Caramel & Dark Chocolate Indulgent Greek Yogurt.

HP Hood’s 2015 ice cream flavor lineup includes Limited-Edition Fried Ice Cream, which is cinnamon caramel ice cream swirled with caramel and cinnamon crust pieces. Caramel is also an important ingredient in the new England Creamery Nantucket Nutty Cone Sundae Ice Cream, which is vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel and chocolate-covered peanuts and chocolate-covered waffle cone pieces.

Towards the end of 2014, Three Happy Cows started rolling out namesake drinkable yogurts. One of the flavors is Caramel, which is joined by Blueberry, Mango and Pina Colada. The drinkable yogurts come in single-serve 7-ounce plastic bottles. Each bottle contains 7 grams of protein, as well as 130 to 140 calories and 2 to 2.5 grams of fat, depending on variety.

And last, but not least, a first in the protein beverage category: Shamrock Farms Salted Caramel Muscled Builder. The new variety joins Chocolate and Vanilla and is making its debut exclusively at 7-Eleven Stores throughout the U.S.

Salted Caramel Muscle Builder is packed with 30 grams of protein and only nine net grams of carbs and is formulated specifically to help build muscle and strength. Its 12-ounce packaging makes it a convenient on-the-go option to drink before or after a workout, or as a quick meal replacement. It’s also lactose free.[timestamp]