Friday, March 23, 2018

Ice Cream Category Disruptor #1: Better-for-You, Higher-in-Protein Formulations

A new generation of ice cream entrepreneurs is disrupting the ice cream category, using everything from global and local flavors, small-batch and hand-packed options, and sports nutrition and snack products. Here’s a quick overview of the most disruptive trend in the U.S. ice cream market. It’s protein, and always dairy proteins, as only clean-tasting dairy proteins allow for heavy protein loads.

The number of such ice creams and frozen dairy desserts in the market continues to grow. Here’s something to know about many of them. The consumer they are attracting is not the ice cream shopper, it’s the protein shopper, the consumer who has grown tired of protein bars and beverages.

In some cases this is athletes, sports enthusiasts and fitness fans. Other times it is dieters or those managing their weight. And, then there’s the consumer who simply knows that protein satiates. All of these consumers are looking for new products to provide them high-quality protein. Ice cream is proving to be that product and whey ingredients typically that protein.

Many of these products are marketed by the content of the pint package they come in. Flagging calories is an important selling point. And while many of these products contain a noteworthy amount of protein on a pint basis. Some are unable to make a “good” or “excellent” source claim, as those are based on a per-serving basis; however, many are able to make these claims when they use the right combination of dairy ingredients and dairy proteins.

Wells Enterprises Inc., is the latest player to enter this growing frozen desserts segment. New Chilly Cow is made with ultra-filtered milk, which boosts protein content while providing for 55% fewer calories, 70% less fat and 60% less sugar than regular ice cream.
The new brand is rolling out this month in seven flavors, as a two-pack of half pints and in novelty bars. The flavors are: Brown Butter Salted Caramel, Chocolate Brownie Batter, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies N’ Cream, Mint Dark Chocolate Chip, Sweet Cream Peanut Butter and Vanilla Graham Swirl. An 8-ounce tub flags that it provides 12 to 13 grams of protein, depending on flavor.

ProYo is reinventing itself to better compete in the category and is now sold as Swell Ice Cream. After conducting an in-depth consumer study, the company learned two things that were keeping it from connecting to frequent frozen dessert/ice cream shoppers. One was the ProYo name and the other was the packaging. Some consumers were confused by the name ProYo, wondering if it was ice cream, frozen yogurt or a novelty. Others felt that the bold, black packaging, and oversized protein callout on the front of the package resonated predominantly with men.

The new package features a clean, premium oceanic blue package that pops on the shelf. It highlights key points of differentiation like high protein, lower sugar and 120-calories per serving. Additionally, to meet demands for indulgent flavors with inclusions, each flavor is communicated with a photographed, single delectable scoop and color-blocked, front-of-pack flavor names and lids.

The ingredients and formulations of the ice creams have not changed. New Swell Ice Cream is not only low-fat (2.5 grams or less per half-cup serving), it also delivers a market-leading, excellent source of 10 grams of protein per 120-calorie serving (35 grams of protein per 14-ounce container). With the rebrand, the company is launching two new inclusion-laded flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Batter and Cookies ‘n Cream.

Arctic Zero, a forerunner in the better-for-you ice cream sector, is expanding its product line with new Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream. Made with real milk, cream and whey protein concentrate--yet only 280-360 calories a pint--Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream is naturally sweetened with cane sugar without any sugar alcohols or corn syrup. Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream joins the brand’s original whey protein-based and lactose-free Arctic Zero Fit Frozen Desserts.

One pint of Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream contains 8 to 12 grams of protein, depending on flavor, of which there are seven. They are: Chocolate Chunk, Cookie & Brownie Dough, Cookies & Cream, Mint & Chocolate Cookie, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies, Toffee Crunch and Vanilla Bean.

“We heard our consumers loud and clear: even with indulgence, clean ingredients matter,” says Amit Pandhi, CEO of Arctic Zero. “Sweeteners are a significant issue of concern and conversation for consumers. Many of the lower-calorie ice creams in the category use questionable sweeteners like sugar alcohols that can cause bloating and digestion issues. Arctic Zero Light Ice Cream is naturally sweetened with cane sugar. We want people to feel good after indulging.

“While many people--particularly those with dietary restrictions--love our original whey protein-based, lactose-free Arctic Zero frozen dessert, others were looking for something more indulgent with a taste and texture like premium ice cream,” he says. “In the spirit of ‘no taste bud left behind,’ we set out to create a revolutionary everyday indulgence, a low-calorie ice cream that delights and truly satisfies.”

Ben & Jerry’s now offers Moo-phoria, a pint line with 60% to 70% less fat and at least 35% fewer calories than traditional ice cream. Each half-cup serving of Moo-phoria has 140 to 160 calories, depending on flavor, of which there are three. They are: Chocolate Milk & Cookies, Caramel Cookie Fix and PB Dough. Like all Ben & Jerry’s flavors, Moo-phoria doesn’t contain artificial sugar substitutes or sugar alcohols. The addition of nonfat milk enables a half-cup serving to contain about 3 grams of protein.

Yasso, a leader in frozen Greek yogurt bars, is launching frozen Greek yogurt in pints. Made with nonfat milk, Greek yogurt and milk protein concentrate, a half-cup serving contains 100 to 150 calories, and 5 to 6 grams of protein, depending on variety, of which there are eight. They are: Best of Both Swirlds,  Caramel Pretzel-Mania, Chocolate PB & Yay, Coffee Brownie Break, Loco Coco Caramel, Mint Champion-Chip, Party Animal and Rolling in the Dough.

Three Twins is now offering an organic higher-protein ice cream branded Slim Twin. A half-cup serving has 6 grams of protein, with each pint containing 24 grams of protein. The protein comes from nonfat milk, egg yolk and milk protein concentrate. The flavors are: Cardamom, Chocolate, Coffee, Cookies & Cream, Lemon Cookie, Mint Chip and Vanilla.

Last year, Unilever entered the category with Breyers Delights. And, both Enlightened and Halo Top, two of the original players, continue to grow their product offerings.

Want to learn more about the evolving ice cream category in order to best plan for future innovation? Plan to attend the International Dairy Foods Association’s annual Ice Cream Technology Conference April 10 to 11, 2018, in Fort Myers, Florida. For more information, link HERE.

Here are five reasons to develop high-protein ice cream:

1. Consumers want more protein.
Numerous surveys show that consumers are trying to increase their protein intake, as they understand protein satiates and builds muscle. It’s top of mind when consumers think about health and wellness. In fact, two thirds of Americans said they were seeking out protein in the diet, according to the 2016 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation. This was a statistically significant increase compared to 2015.

2. Dairy proteins are high-quality, complete proteins. 
Not all proteins are created equal. Consumers are starting to understand that dairy proteins offer benefits that make them a higher-quality option than plant proteins. Dairy proteins have long been the protein of choice among athletes and frequent gym-goers.

There are two types of high-quality dairy protein ingredient options: whey proteins and milk proteins. Both are high-quality, complete proteins that contain all of the essential and nonessential amino acids the body needs. The difference lies in the dominant protein found in each one. With most milk protein ingredients, such as milk protein concentrates and milk protein isolates, casein is the dominant protein. The typical composition of these ingredients reflects what you find in cows milk, which is about 80% casein and 20% whey protein.

Whey protein ingredients, as the name suggests, are a concentrated source of whey proteins. For example, whey protein concentrate typically contains 34% to 89%, while whey protein isolate contains 90% or more.

Protein quality is quantified through the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) and the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). The latter has long been the standard measurement. The newer DIAAS is proving to be a more accurate assessment of protein quality.

Dairy proteins have an exceptionally high DIAAS score because of the presence of branched-chain amino acids, which help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Each dairy protein has more branched-chain amino acids than egg, meat, soy and wheat proteins. Whey protein, specifically, is seen as higher quality because of the presence of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid accountable for muscle synthesis.

3. Dairy proteins are versatile.
They have a neutral, bland taste that complements most foods and beverages, and they work especially well in ice cream. They readily dissolve in systems, with some proteins contributing creamy, dairy-rich whiteness, while others becoming invisible. In ice cream, dairy proteins have traditionally assisted with emulsification and freeze-thaw stability. The “extra” protein being added to high-protein ice creams may cause the product to be firmer with poor melt. Using multiple dairy ingredients and dairy protein blends may assist.

4. They are clean-label ingredients.
When Americans define what makes a food healthy, it’s becoming more about what is not in a food rather than what is in it. The presence of artificial ingredients and preservatives is a leading deal breaker when it comes to purchase intent. Dairy proteins have a positive image and are considered simple, clean, natural and wholesome ingredients. This is why formulators of all types of foods and beverages are seeking out dairy proteins for their product development efforts and making package claims such as “made with real dairy” and “contains quality dairy proteins.”

5. They build lean muscle mass and optimize athletic performance.
Numerous studies show that high-quality protein, most notably whey proteins, demonstrate a greater ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise. This is because whey is quickly digested and helps immediate protein synthesis by stimulating muscle growth and recovery. Casein protein provides similar effects in terms of muscle growth but is more slowly digested, providing longer-lasting protein synthesis.

According to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, data indicates all humans need about the same amount of dietary protein every day for basic lean muscle repair and remodeling. To reap other benefits—those for optimum performance—one must consider the quality of the protein and the quantity of the protein at every meal and snack. Each primary eating occasion should include 30 grams of high-quality protein, including protein that is high in the branched-chain amino acid leucine. This is the amount of protein for the body to function at its best. Of all the protein ingredients available to food and beverage manufacturers, whey protein isolate contains the most leucine: 11%. Milk protein concentrate comes in second at 9.5%, followed by egg protein at 8.8%.

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