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.

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