Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dairy Foods Forecast 2017: Ice Cream Flavor Trends 2017

Photo source: Baskin-Robbins

This is the sixth—and finalin a series of reports predicting dairy innovation rollouts in 2017.

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and dairy foods marketers. This year the entire dairy foods supply chain is pumped up about the future. And this is thanks to all the dedicated people who work in every link, from farm to table.

Last week I wrote about how the clean food movement in extending beyond ingredients to now encompass process. If you missed the blog, you can link HERE to read it.

The idea of process—from the sourcing of ingredients to the actual production of ice cream--will be an integral part of ice cream innovations in 2017. Think artisan, hand crafted and small batch. In addition, many new ice cream flavors will be lighter and brighter in appearance. There will be a return to less being more in 2017.

Graeter’s has long recognized the importance of process. This family-owned ice cream maker remains dedicated to the small-batch French pot process. Passionate artisans pour and swirl the best ingredients into each spinning, 2.5-gallon French pot freezer. The resulting ice cream is so dense and rich--due to the absence of air--it must be removed by hand with a paddle. That’s how Graeter’s has been hand-crafting ice cream since 1870. The company is right on target with what today’s consumer is looking for.

Here are eight trends driving ice cream innovation in 2017.

1. Preparation Descriptions. Cooking methods are described on all types of foods these days, as it makes the consumer feel more involved, more knowledgeable. Cooking methods also impart unique flavors that entice the taste buds. Expect to see more inclusions described this way. For example, think toasted coconut, grilled pineapple, caramelized banana and smoked apple. In addition, descriptors such as sun ripened, hand harvested and homemade will be more common. But don’t overdo it! Be discerning with how descriptive you are in order to not overwhelm the consumer. 

The 7-Eleven convenience-store chain does a nice job with its latest addition to its private-label 7-Select GO! Yum brand of ice cream. Side panels of pints of new Chocolate Covered Strawberry include this description: Naturally sweet, vine-ripened strawberries combine with fresh cream and chunks of chocolatey goodness for a premium rich indulgence. Bursting with fresh flavor, it’s pure delicious bliss.

2. Fruit and More Fruit. Candies and cookies will still be added to ice cream, but expect to see more real whole fruit being added and often in unique combinations. The challenge with fruit is to keep it soft and intact. Premium juice and sugar-infused fruits keep them malleable and prevent ice crystal formation. Tropical combinations and sweet with a touch of heat will be trending, along with berry and citrus combinations. Think of a Farmers Market series.

3. Butter, Cream and Dairy Variegates. Fat is back and tastes delicious. Think butter flakes (maybe with a touch of see salt), swirls of sweetened condensed milk and mascarpone variegate. Light in color but full of flavor, these ingredients add extra all-natural richness. Buttermilk, cheesecake and even pudding will trend, often in combination with fruit.

4. Sweet Flavors. With added sugars, in particular refined and processed sugars, being highly scrutinized for their negative impact on health, marketers of all types of foods and beverages have started flagging sweetener type in product descriptions to potentially give the product a more healthful halo. Expect to see agave, brown sugar, honey and maple syrup as part of an ice cream’s flavor description.

5. Coffee. Cold-press coffee is all the rage in the ready-to-drink beverage sector and is making its way into ice cream. Expect to see many coffee flavor pairings, such as coffee plus cream…flavored creamer…in the form of a frozen dessert.

Kemps recently introduced Yo2 Frozen Yogurt pints. One of the six flavors is Cold Brewed Coffee, which is coffee frozen yogurt, thick fudge swirl and chocolate chips. There’s also Mudslide, which is chocolate and coffee frozen yogurt swirled with cookies, fudge and chocolaty chunks. And there’s Vanilla, which is described as simply vanilla.

6. Vanilla. Clean, simple, pure, light and bright, that’s what you get with vanilla. Chocolate has long been a dominating base in ice cream innovations. In 2017, it will be vanilla, with an emphasis placed on the sourcing of the vanilla. Bean specks will be more prevalent as well, as they are suggestive of a product more in touch with nature.

7. Chocolate. Chocolate is not going away but in 2017 expect to see chocolate as more of a subtle inclusion rather than a dominating base. The chocolate may also be paired with other ingredients to create unique textures. Think chocolate-covered ancient grain clusters, chocolate-covered almonds and chocolate-covered cherries. Now think of all three of those in a pint of French vanilla ice cream. In keeping with the light and bright theme, there will be more creative uses of white chocolate.

8. Salted Caramel. This flavor continues to evolve and will increasingly be included as an inclusion or variegate rather than be the dominant flavor.

For example, this month, Ben & Jerry’s is debuting One Sweet World in select European markets. The new flavor features Fairtrade coffee and caramel ice creams, marshmallow and caramel swirls, and chunky chocolate ampersands, all lovingly churned together to tantalize the taste buds. And you know what makes this all the sweeter? Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with H.O.P.E. (Helping People Everywhere) not hate. Sales of this flavor will help fund various projects run by the organization, which contribute to more inclusive communities to make One Sweet World.

On that note, this is the last blog of 2016. Happy Holidays to you and yours! I’m praying for One Sweet World in 2017. Sincerely, Donna Berry

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dairy Foods Forecast 2017: Clean Process will be as Important as Clean Ingredient Legends

This is the fifth in a series of reports predicting dairy innovation rollouts in 2017. 

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and dairy foods marketers. This year the entire dairy foods supply chain is pumped up about the future. And this is thanks to all the dedicated people who work in every link, from farm to table.

Tired of hearing the term clean label? Well, it’s not going away. How a brand chooses to address the clean-label movement is very personal, as there’s no formal definition, yet many companies claim to be doing it.  

“In the 1980s and through much of the 1990s, consumers largely tried to avoid certain substances,
like fats or cholesterol, as they were thought to be harmful,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst, The NPD Group Inc., Port Washington, N.Y. “Around the turn of this century, consumers became more concerned with getting more ‘good’ substances, like whole grains or omega-3s, in their diets. Now, in addition to eating more better-for-you foods, new priorities are coming into focus for consumers, like eating foods in their pure form.”
That pure form is as much about ingredients as it is process. An informed consumer is a satisfied customer.

Moving forward, it may not be enough to be clean and simple. Consumers increasingly want full disclosure regarding food additives, including source and function, as well as how a product is made.

Think about Greek yogurt. This is something we missed when trying to figure out what made Greek yogurt such a game changer. Yes, it’s higher in protein. Yes, it tastes different. Yes, it has a different texture and mouthfeel than mainstream yogurt. And YES: authentically produced Greek yogurt is made using a more hands-on approach, a different process. Consumers were as fascinated about the product as the straining process. They likely imagined Greek dairymen standing around a strainer watching the product thicken for hours at a time.

This is not the original Chobani bicyclist love story, but it still supports the process theory. View the 30-second video HERE.

Now think cold-brew coffee. It’s the hottest trend in the ready-to-drink chilled beverage sector (pun intended). It’s as much about product as it is process, once again supporting the importance of communicating the process to consumers.

Cold-brew coffee, also known as cold press, is coffee brewed without heat. Cold brewing requires steeping beans in ambient- to cold-temperature water for a long period of time. The type of beans, the ratio of beans to water, the temperature of the water and the steeping time all impact the final product. Processors differentiate their product by manipulating these variables and communicate this to consumers. Consumers connect. It makes them feel special to imagine that a batch of beans was steeped almost a half day to make their beverage. It’s artisan. It’s craft. It’s about the process.
In 2017, commit to clean label and clean process. The two are the perfect marriage. And the dairy industry is well poised to be a leader in the clean food movement.

Mark your Calendar for ProFood Tech
There may not be any better place in early 2017 to learn about innovative processes to assist with creating a point of differentiation in the crowded marketplace than the inaugural ProFood Tech, which will be held April 4 to 6 in Chicago.

“Shifting consumer preferences for natural, healthy and earth-friendly brands place new demands on the manufacturing operations of food and beverage processors,” says Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development at PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “Companies must fine-tune product lines to accommodate new ingredients, implement alternatives to chemical preservatives and often build or modify lines for greater flexibility. Additionally, they must do it all while minimizing changeover times and learning curves for operators.”

For more information on ProFood Tech, where the Daily Dose of Dairy Live will take place all three days on the show floor, link HERE.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dairy Foods Forecast 2017: Dairy Protein Beverage Innovations

This is the fourth in a series of reports predicting dairy innovation rollouts in 2017.

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and dairy foods marketers. This year the entire dairy foods supply chain is pumped up about the future. And this is thanks to all the dedicated people who work in every link, from farm to table.

Whey--once considered a byproduct of cheesemaking is now one of the most in-demand ingredients, in particular in the beverage business. Fluid milk processors would be wise to stop focusing so much on processing and packaging ordinary white and flavored milk and think outside the gallon and half gallon to single-serve bottles, cans, cartons and even pouches of whey (and other dairy protein)-containing beverages. These might be clear water- or juice-type drinks, meal replacements or even energy drinks.

Polly Olson, vice president of new business development, sales and marketing at AGROPUR, confirmed that the use of whey proteins in consumer beverages, as opposed to sports nutrition beverages where whey has long been the shining star, is soaring, and shows no signs of slowing down.

According to a report from BCCResearch, the global whey protein market will reach $13.5 billion in 2020, up from $9.2 billion in 2015, registering a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% for the period of 2015 to 2020. For years, whey protein has been the go-to ingredient in the sports nutrition sector thanks to its anabolic benefits such as increased muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth. However, increased focus on health across age groups and gender is driving use of whey protein beyond athletes and sports enthusiasts.

The report states that while core demand for whey protein comes from the U.S. and the E.U., there is increasing demand in emerging economies, especially in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. In addition to being used in beverages, whey and other dairy protein ingredients are increasingly being used in nutrition bars, infant formula and weight-management foods.

Sunshine Dairy Foods gets it. Known for its use of premium local ingredients and a cold-craft process that may take longer, but produces superior-tasting products, this Portland, Ore., dairy is now playing in the protein beverage space with the recent introduction of Sunshine Power. Packaged in single-serve 16-ounce gable-top cartons, each container delivers 30-grams of high-quality dairy protein—from milk, milk protein isolate and dairy product solids. Each powerful serving packs in 420 calories, 19 grams of fat, including added omega-3 fatty acids, and 24 grams of total sugar, in addition to the 30 grams of protein. To keep total sugars low, and to be able to state the product contains no added sugars, the refrigerated beverage is slightly sweetened with stevia. Through the addition of lactase enzyme, the product is also lactose free.

For Goodness Shakes, a leading ready-to-drink protein shake brand in the U.K., introduced three new products this year. Protein Water contains no sugar or fat and is only 86 calories per 500-milliliter bottle. Packed with 20 grams of whey protein isolate, the beverage is designed to hydrate before, during and after training.

Protein Coconut Water contains no added sugar and no fat. Each 330-milliliter bottle contains 52 calories and 10 grams of whey protein isolate. The beverage base is naturally hydrating coconut and spring water.

For a healthful breakfast on the go, there’s new shelf-stable Protein & Oats, an enriched milk drink that contains 14 vitamins and minerals and packs in 25 grams of protein from whey and casein. Each single-serve bottle also contains 20 grams of finely ground oats, which function as a source of slow-releasing energy. The meal-in-a-bottle has no added refined sugars. The only sugars are those naturally present in the oats and dairy ingredients. The unique formulation is designed to be a satiating first meal of the day and comes in two traditional porridge flavors: Original and Banana & Golden Syrup.

NestlĂ© USA is rolling out Nesquik Protein Plus flavored milk drink, with each 14-ounce single-serve bottle containing 23 grams of protein to help consumers reach their protein-intake goals for the day. Labels flag “proudly made with real milk,” with ingredient statements identifying low-fat milk as the first ingredient. A protein boost comes form added milk protein concentrate. Nesquik Protein Plus comes in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors. The milk drinks contain no artificial sweeteners and labels make the claim that the drinks have 28% less sugar than the leading protein-enhanced flavored milk. It is shelf stable until opened.

BiPro USA, a consumer brand of AGROPUR, has added a strawberry flavor to its line of whey protein isolate powders. Strawberry joins unflavored, Chocolate and French Vanilla. BiPro’s strawberry iteration stays true to the brand’s clean label. The product contains just six ingredients, 90 calories per serving and zero grams of sugar. Just like every other BiPro flavor, strawberry carries 20 grams of protein per serving and is NSF Certified for Sport, ensuring that it is free of banned substances. The product is naturally sweetened and naturally flavored with real strawberry pieces.

In June, the brand introduced ready-to-drink BiPro Protein Water. Each 16.9-ounce bottle contains one scoop of BiPro (20 grams of protein) and stays true to the brand’s clean label. The ingredient legend includes only five items: water, whey protein isolate, phosphoric acid, natural flavor and stevia extract. A single-serve bottle contains zero grams of fat, sugar and carbohydrates and just 90 calories. BiPro Protein Water comes in Lemon Lift and Peach Power flavors.

PowerBar, the original energy bar, has added Clean Whey Protein Drinks to its rapidly evolving portfolio of real and energizing foods. In response to consumer requests for cleaner ingredient labels, PowerBar Clean Whey products feature no artificial sweeteners and high-quality whey protein for sustained energy. A single-serve 16.9-milliliter bottle of the drink contains 15 grams of whey protein, 0 grams of sugar and 70 calories, as a result of being sweetened with stevia. It is a light, refreshing alternative to a traditional dairy-based protein shake and can be used during or after a workout, as a healthy snack or meal replacement, according to the company. The drink comes in Berry Pomegranate and Fruit Punch flavors.

SmashPack Protein is a new all-natural, high-protein and real fruit nutritional snack. These spouted squeeze packs are for athletes and anyone on-the-go looking for a quick, healthy snack/meal replacement made from real food. Each pouch is packed with 14 grams of high-quality whey protein, one serving of real fruit, 5 grams of healthy fats and is only 180 calories. The line of protein packs come in three flavors—Mixed Berry, Orange Peach and Tropical Fruit--each with a short list of recognizable ingredients. SmashPack Protein is shelf stable and free of soy, gluten, artificial ingredients, and is naturally sweetened by the fruit it holds.

Wisconsin Specialty Protein now offers ready-to-drink Tera’s Whey Protein beverage. This shelf-stable drink comes in two flavors—Chocolate and Vanilla Bourbon--with both packing in 26 grams of whey that originated from milk from grass-fed Wisconsin cows. The protein sources are whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate and nonfat dry milk. Sugars are kept low by using organic stevia in combination with organic unrefined cane sugar.

The whey- and other dairy protein-containing beverage segment is poised for innovation. It's time to get on board.