Friday, September 11, 2015

Inclusions Forecast: Bits & Pieces that Make Consumers go WOW!

Wow, time flies…the International Dairy Show is this coming week in Chicago, Tuesday, September 15 to Friday, September 18. Today’s blog sponsor—SensoryEffects—will be exhibiting at booth 8230. SensoryEffects is also sponsoring the Daily Dose of Dairy Live! presentation on Friday from 10:00am to 10:30am on the show floor. The topic is Innovations in Milk and Dairy Beverages. (Milk is one of the most underdeveloped dairy foods categories. Attendees will walk away motivated to innovate.) Please mark your calendar and plan to attend. At the Dairy Show, SensoryEffects will be showcasing its extensive range of innovative flavor systems for all types of dairy foods, in particular refrigerated and frozen desserts, as well as milk, yogurt and dairy beverages, including an economical egg replacement system for the approaching holiday nog season.

I spent the past few days in Boise, Idaho—the number-three milk producing state in the U.S.—attending U.S. Dairy Export Council’s U.S. Dairy Innovation Conference. In addition to gaining knowledge on the dairy ingredient marketplace, I learned a lot about the state’s major crop: the potato.

What’s interesting is how culinary professionals in this city have managed to take the ordinary potato, which really is anything but ordinary, as it grows in more than 200 cultivars in colors ranging from golden yellow to deep purple, and make it high-end cuisine. They cut, dice, slice, sliver and even ball potatoes into the most amazing creations. And what really makes the diner go “wow” is all the extras, the bits and pieces that coat and cover, as well as the dips and sauces served on the side.

Milk is not much different. If anything, it is less exciting, as we only have Guernsey, Jersey, grass fed and a few other “varieties.” But we know how to coagulate, filter, ferment, flavor, freeze, pasteurize and separate it into an amazing array of products. And what makes consumers go wow? It’s the extras.

Those extras are getting more sophisticated and adventurous in all dairy foods categories. Though ice cream and yogurt are the most likely products to contain bits and pieces, formulators are getting creative with dips/spreads and refrigerated desserts. Check out these recent innovations from around the world.

In Germany, Muller Milch Reis, which is dairy-based rice pudding, comes in two new nutty flavors. One includes a creamy pistachio-based variegate. The other combines caramelized roasted almonds in a caramel variegate. These varieties join a number of fruit offerings that come blended in single-serve cups or in dual-compartment packs, with rice pudding on one side and fruits such as elderberry, gooseberry, rhubarb or plum in the other. 

The company recently introduced the World Edition yogurt line. Venezia delivers the tastes of Venice: pistachio-flavored yogurt with crunchy mini amaretto-flavored cookies to mix in. Bora Bora is coconut-flavored yogurt with a pineapple and coconut variegate on the side. Mumbai comes with a papaya fruit side while Sevilla is orange-flavored yogurt with chocolate balls.

Canada’s Chapman’s is taking a similar worldly approach with its new Flavors of the World Gelato line. The line includes Sticky Rice & Mango Gelato, which is based on a traditional Thai treat that combines sticky rice and coconut milk with mango. Sour Cherry Tango Gelato is a Latin American Fiesta designed to make the taste buds tango through the combination of tart cherry with a sour cherry ripple. Amaretto Biscotti Gelato is an Italian inspiration that combines amaretto, pistachio and chocolate flavors.

Mövenpick Ice Cream of Switzerland celebrates Africa with its new Limited Edition Africa line. The four varieties are: Bourbon Vanilla & Exotic Fruit, Madagascar Island Cocoa, Moroccan Orange Blossom & Date, and South Africa Rooibos Tea & Raspberry.

Earlier this year, Perry’s Ice Cream in the U.S. launched a premium ice cream line branded Escapes. These pint- and quart-sized treats are designed to take you on a journey, a flavorful one, according to the company.

There are 20 flavors in total, all targeting adult palates. Most of them come loaded with ingredients designed to make the consumer go wow…sometimes because they have a hint of heat other times because they combine unexpected flavors…and always because they are bursting with flavorful bits and pieces.

The line includes Banana Cream Pie (banana ice cream with vanilla-flavored cream swirls and vanilla-flavored wafers), Fireball (hot cinnamon ice cream with cinnamon-flavored swirls and cinnamonette candies), German Chocolate Cake (chocolate cake ice cream with caramel swirls, coconut shreds and pecans), Grasshopper Pie (mint ice cream with fudge swirls and chocolate-crème-filled cookies), Movie Time (popcorn-flavored ice cream with salty caramel swirls and caramel truffles), Peanut Butter Cookie (sugar cookie ice cream with peanut butter swirls and peanut butter cookie dough pieces), Sponge Candy (caramel ice cream with caramelized sugar swirls and sponge candy pieces) and White Lightning (dark chocolate ice cream with white mint fudge swirls).

These flavors might be an adventure, but the ingredients remain as local as possible. Each carton prominently displays “Made in New York” around the rim of the lid and features an attractive photographic trail of the key flavor components.

“The majority of our consumers prefer ice cream flavors that are loaded with inclusions; the more, the better,” says Eva Balazs, director of marketing and contract sales. “The trick is finding the right ingredients that complement each other for distinct and indulgent flavor combinations. Sometimes it takes several attempts before we identify that perfect cookie, fruit or nut piece and the right fudge, caramel or fruit swirl for a new flavor.”

Retailer Morrison’s in the U.K. offers an extensive range of refrigerated dairy desserts under its M Kitchen Really Good Puds brand. The sundaes are swirled layers of vanilla and flavored (chocolate, strawberry or toffee) mousse followed by a layer of either chocolate or toffee custard or strawberry compote, all topped off with flavored sponge cakes pieces. Clear plastic cups showcase the indulgent ingredients. The company also uses a clear cup for its Strawberry Cheesecake dessert, which includes a graham cracker crust bottom layer that gets topped with a cream cheese dessert and fruit.

Earlier this year, Canada’s Liberté yogurt, a brand of General Mills, launched a new Muesli and Seeds range in the U.K. The two seeds lines, which include linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are: Seeds & Mixed Berries and Seeds & Mixed Fruit. The two muesli barley, oats and wheat flakes with nuts and raisins) are: Muesli & Summer Fruit and Muesli & Apricot.
In the U.S., General Mills recently introduced Yoplait Plenti, which blends Greek yogurt with fruits (except the vanilla variant), whole grain oats, flax and pumpkin seeds. At 5.5 ounces, the single-serve containers are a little larger than standard Greek yogurt cups, which are 5.3 ounces. Each serving provides 140 to 150 calories and 1.5 to 2 grams of fat, depending on variety, as well as 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. The protein comes from the cultured nonfat milk and the grains and seeds. The fat and fiber come from the grains and seeds. Fruit and vegetable extract is a source of natural color. The eight varieties are: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Coconut, Peach, Raspberry, Spiced Apple, Strawberry and Vanilla.
These two products, as well as Stonyfield’s new Super Grains and Super Seeds, and like innovations in the market, talk to today’s consumer who is trying to follow the nutritional advice that is circulating. And that is to follow a “mostly” plant-based diet. This is not a vegan diet, or even a vegetarian diet, it is simply “more plant,” with more plant not limited to fruits and vegetables. This dietary approach includes nuts, seed and whole grains. So instead of fighting the mostly plant-based diet recommendations, these companies are giving consumers more of what they are looking for, while also still delivering high-quality dairy proteins and essentials vitamins and minerals.

Stonyfield’s new organic yogurt lines each have three variants. Super Grains comes in Maple, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors. The maple variant contains real organic maple syrup, while vanilla is naturally flavored. Strawberry comes loaded with the namesake fruit. Each combines nonfat Greek yogurt with buckwheat and quinoa. Super Seeds comes in Blueberry, Coconut and Orange-Cranberry.  The coconut variant is naturally flavored, whereas the others contain real organic fruit. Each combines nonfat Greek yogurt with softened flax seed. All six offerings come in 5.3-ounce bowls, where the bottom is clear, so that consumers can see what’s inside. A single-bowl serving contains 140 to 150 calories and 17 to 20 grams of sugar, depending on variety. Each also contains almost no fat, just under a gram of fiber and 13 grams of protein—from both dairy and plant sources.

On the savory side of the refrigerated dairy case, Alouette’s new Le Bon Dip and Le Petite Fromage bring a new dimension of taste and indulgence to everyday snacking. The products deliver craveable, balanced indulgence with natural ingredients and bold flavors.

Alouette’s Le Bon Dip features a blend of premium soft cheese, chunky vegetables you can see, and a touch of Greek yogurt for a dip that satisfies with bold, indulgent variety. Le Bon Dip contains no artificial flavors or colors and just 45 calories per serving. The yogurt contains milk protein concentrate, allowing for 2 grams of protein in every two-tablespoon serving. The dip comes in four varieties: Basil, Zucchini & Parmesan (savory roasted zucchini, aged Parmesan, and a hint of basil, topped with chunky yellow pepper and zucchini for added crunch), Fire Roasted Vegetable (fire-roasted eggplant, onion, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and a finishing touch of oregano), Roasted Red Pepper & Chickpea (chickpeas, roasted red peppers and cumin topped with vibrant peppers and parsley) and Zesty Garden Salsa (juicy tomatoes, crunchy peppers, onions, hints of cumin and zesty lime, with a topping of chive and red bell peppers).

Also in the U.S., Bel Brands USA has made its famous Boursin Gournay cheese spreadable. The cheese dips come in the original Boursin Garlic & Herb variety—regular and light—and four other flavorful varieties. They are: Asiago & Roasted Red Pepper, Cranberry Jalapeno, Monterey Jack & Spicy Pepper, and Spinach & Artichoke.

Heat and spice are really taking off in all foods, including dairy. Check out Greek Pastures Tropical Sweet Heat Greek Yogurt. This Caribbean-inspired flavor contains sweet pineapple, ripe mango, and the fiery heat of fresh ginger and habanero peppers.

For more information on ethnic and savory flavors for dairy foods, link HERE to the article “Flavorful twists add spice to dairy” that I wrote for Food Business News.

To read more about innovative inclusions trends, link HERE to an article I wrote earlier this year for Food Business News on this topic.

See you at the Dairy Show!

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