Friday, March 16, 2018

Natural Products Expo West 2018: “Fresh dairy” observations to influence your future innovations.

It’s been less than a week since the 38th annual Expo West wrapped up in Anaheim. It goes without saying that natural, organic and clean-label conversations dominated the exposition floor. After three days of observation and five days of digesting, I’ve identified three trends from the show that I believe are important to the fresh dairy industry moving forward, with fresh dairy being the fluid and cultured categories.

But first, something to take note of is the rise in foods for the keto diet. This is not to be confused with the paleo diet, which bans dairy foods. Daily nutrient intake for the keto diet is around 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate. High-fat dairy is welcome.  %20Dairy&utm_medium=Leaderboard_728x90_Static&utm_campaign=Ingredion_2018_Q1_Mar

It’s no wonder there was a plethora of baked 100% cheese snacks at the expo, many coming from traditional grain-based snack food manufacturers. For carb-avoiders, such cheese snacks provide the crunch they crave.

Riding the coattails of the keto diet is FODMAP, a category of carbohydrates linked to gastrointestinal distress in sensitive individuals. Not surprising, lactose is on that list. Thus, it makes sense for full-fat dairy foods to go the extra step and be lactose free.

Foods designed for improved gastrointestinal health also tend to contain probiotics and prebiotics, both of which were prominent at Expo West 2018. The terms were associated with everything from condiments to packaged salads, and of course, cultured dairy foods. But also, take note, dairy-free yogurt-type products now contain probiotics and are being marketed as gut-health foods.

To read an article on the keto and FODMAP trend, please link HERE to an overview written by my Food Business News colleague Monica Watrous.

Here are my three takeaways from Expo West 2018 for fresh dairy.

1. Grass-fed milk. Not only is it not for everyone, there’s not enough for everyone. But here’s the deal with grass-fed milk, and fresh dairy products made with grass-fed milk. Cows on a 100% grass-fed diet produce milk with a significant increase of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, as compared to conventionally fed (mostly grain) cows. This has been known for some time. A study showing this was published in the February 2018 Journal of Food Science and Nutrition.
These healthful fatty acids are in the fat component of milk, so it makes sense that grass-fed dairy products be whole milk. And what do keto dieters want more of in their daily diet?

Further, the grass-fed diet approach appeals to consumers striving for a more plant-based diet. Try this for a marketing spin: the original plant-based milk comes from cows who enjoy a 100% grass-based diet.    

Grass-fed dairy ingredients are a key differentiator for Picnik, an Austin, Texas-based coffee house that entered the ready-to-drink category in 2017 with a line of functional coffee-dairy beverages. The shelf-stable drinks are based on fair-trade coffee, grass-fed butter, grass-fed whey protein and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. The company says grass-fed butter fuels the body with a sustained, clean energy that satiates appetite and reduces cravings, while the grass-fed whey protein absorbs rapidly into the body to reduce hunger and sustain muscle growth. The MCT oil offers cognitive boost, supports fat burn and balances mood and hormone levels, while the coffee provides alertness. It’s a keto dieter’s dream beverage.

2. Skyr. This Icelandic yogurt is strained, much like traditional Greek yogurt. But whereas Greek yogurt’s primary appeal was protein content, skyr focuses on probiotics and minimal-to-no-added sugar, as well as protein. Traditional skyr was made with nonfat yogurt, mostly to keep protein levels as high as possible in order to fuel the Vikings who relied on skyr for daily nutrition. Today, the new-generation of skyr being produced in the U.S. is made with whole milk. Look for a number of new skyrs to be featured in upcoming weeks as a Daily Dose of Dairy. In the meantime, link HERE to some new products that rolled out earlier this year.
3. Probiotics. Yes, they are not only now common language and mainstream, they are in almost every food product imaginable. Add them to your dairy foods and market them LOUDLY! At Expo West, DanoneWave gave attendees a sneak peek to a recently developed probiotic shot-style product. Showcased under the trademark-pending brand The Cultured Beverage Company, the daily probiotic comes in plain and strawberry flavors. Each 3.1-ounce bottle contains 70 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of sugar and billions of probiotic cultures. 

Expect to see a lot more this year and next in the areas of grass-fed dairy (and meat), skyr and probiotics.

A shout out to my friends at DanoneWave. Loved the love!

It's time to turn dairy goodness into greatness! Love Dairy!  %20Dairy&utm_medium=Leaderboard_728x90_Static&utm_campaign=Ingredion_2018_Q1_Mar

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