Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yogurt: What’s going on with the category?

Photo source: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin 

I spent most of the Memorial Day holiday weekend working. Not too hard, but I did break my golden rule (once again). Not only do I (try) avoid talking money, politics and religion when I’m at extended family gatherings, I also try to avoid talking food because inevitably there’s multiple people with strong—usually unscientifically substantiated—opinions. I broke this rule this past weekend because just before the start of the holiday I received some disturbing news on the U.S. refrigerated yogurt category: retail yogurt volume sales continue to trend down.

U.S. yogurt retail volume sales were down 3.9% in the first quarter of 2018, according to data from IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association. This rate of decline, however, is more moderate than that observed in full year 2017, which was 4.8%. Yogurt volume began its decline mid-year 2016. This decline was observed quite broadly across regions, channels and segments of yogurt.

The promising news is that both yogurt drinks (+5.9%) and tubes (+3.8%) showed growth, which is likely attributed to their convenience attributes. Whole-milk/full-fat yogurts also showed growth (+9.1%).

“Contributing growth drivers for whole-fat yogurt may link to several factors: the emerging science that suggests potential benefits of dairy fat or whole milk dairy foods, the consumer trend toward whole, natural foods and new product launches,” says Jamie Liebich, director-demand at Midwest Dairy. “In addition, strong growth continued for the niche segment of Islandic-style yogurt (+40.7%), [which is all about protein]. However, the previous growth trajectory faltered for Australian-style yogurts, which were down (-23.0%) in the first quarter of this year.” 

This data encouraged me to have a food conversation with extended family and friends this holiday weekend to get some insight into what is going on with yogurt. My open-ended question was simply “What drives you to buy a cup of yogurt?”

I’m guessing I talked to about 50 people. Please note: this was not a scientific survey, so please don’t reference my findings.

The most insightful finding was what they did not mention. Not one person said fat content or calories. The most popular response was “flavor,” with “interesting” or “unique” often part of the answer. “Protein” and “nutrition” came in second, with “organic” third.

With a number of subjects, I pried a bit more. Most of those who identified flavor as a driver said they know yogurt is a healthful food and interesting or unique flavors helps them choose one product over another. Those who said protein and nutrition were the label readers and said they make most food purchases based on Nutrition Facts and ingredient statements. (Again, this was after asking for further explanation.) Fat content and calories were usually still not mentioned at this point; however, sugar content came up often. The third group, those who said organic, were sticklers on organic. They believed that the organic label was their ticket to purchase. In other words, if it was organic, it would have great flavor and be nutritionally desirable.

Now, I cannot emphasize enough that this was not a scientific survey, nevertheless, I found the responses to be very insightful. 

Here’s some consumer data you can reference. The IRI data showed that in the most recent 52 weeks, 84.4% of U.S. households purchased yogurt at least once, with average household purchase at 27.3 pints.

Life stage, race and income are key factors in how groups compare to the average U.S. household in volume purchased.

“African Americans, lower Income and households that are getting started (no children) and retired households fall below average purchase volume,” says Liebich. “Upper income, young families and those raising teens purchase above average volumes of yogurt.”

By far, households with young families and teenagers, and upper-income households indexed the highest. What this suggests is that if your yogurt line is struggling, don’t discount, rather premiumize…and charge for it! Parents will pay for quality products for their children, and for themselves. They want flavor, protein and often organic. Don’t forget that packaging, graphics and merchandising are as important as the product. Never forget that taste reigns.

And here’s some interesting research that you may be able to use to innovate and sell more yogurt.

A new study funded by National Dairy Council (NDC) shows that healthy, pre-menopausal women who consumed low-fat yogurt before meals reduced their risk for inflammation following the meal.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, but if the inflammatory response persists for too long, it can lead to chronic inflammation where the body essentially attacks itself and damages organs. Chronic inflammation is a factor in inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and asthma. It also is associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.

The research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study explored the hypothesis that eating yogurt before a high-fat, high-calorie meal may help reduce inflammation by improving the integrity of the intestinal lining, thus preventing endotoxins (pro-inflammatory molecules produced by gut microbes) from crossing into the bloodstream.

These findings on yogurt, combined with a study on yogurt’s role in reducing chronic inflammation that was published in the December 2017 British Journal of Nutrition, add to the body of evidence of the important role of eating yogurt for health, according to Chris Cifelli, vice president of nutrition research for NDC.

“Eating yogurt before meals is an easy--and tasty--way to help reduce inflammation, which is linked to several chronic diseases, including heart disease,” Cifelli says. “The next time someone asks, ‘What anti-inflammatory foods should I eat?’ be sure to share the emerging research on low-fat yogurt!”

The full research article is available in The Journal of Nutrition. Link HERE.

You know how soup and salad before the entrée is said to help satiate early in the meal to prevent overeating? Maybe there’s room for a high-protein meal starter. Check out this chilled yogurt soup prototype developed by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which recently changed its name to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovation: Keep Milk and Dairy Foods Relevant through Emotional Connections and Value Propositions

Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council 

The National Restaurant Association held its annual expo this past week in Chicago.

As expected, meat alternatives and plant-based innovations were plentiful. In a presentation on foodservice trends, Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Co., an Atlanta-based restaurant consultancy, explained that as much as vegetables are now center-of-the-plate menu items and meat alternatives are mainstream, Americans are “committed carnivores.”

We are eating more meat and poultry than ever, according to USDA data.

“We love meat, but we would like it if you could make us feel a little better about it,” said Kruse. She cited McDonald’s recent national roll-out of fresh beef in Quarter Pounder burgers. “Tell me the story that makes me comfortable in making the choice I really want to make anyway.”

This holds true for dairy.

“Dairy alternatives are on a rise as consumers are increasingly going dairy-free, particularly when it comes to fluid milk used on things like cereal or in coffees,” according to Tom Bailey, senior analyst-dairy, Rabobank. “More recently, biotechnology has entered the arena, brewing milk proteins through biofermentation. The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and to consider applying those lessons to dairy.”

(If you have not heard of Perfect Day, a biotech firm brewing vegan milk proteins, link HERE.)

Bailey just authored a RaboResearch dairy report: Dare Not to Dairy--What the Rise of Dairy-Free Means for Dairy and How the Industry Can Respond. Link HERE for more information about the report. (My apologies, I was informed that I could not provide the link to the report, as I indictaed in the Daily Dose of Dairy email. You can reach out to Rabobank for more information.) The report is a MUST READ!

“Dairy alternatives have competed in the dairy space for decades, but competition has intensified as dairy alternatives broaden in types, styles and categories of product,” writes Bailey. “Hoping for the best and waiting for the tide to turn is not an advisable strategy for the dairy industry. Consumers have spoken. They want new and innovative quality products—dairy-based or otherwise—and they are willing to pay for them.”

This includes fiber- and protein-enriched products; lower-sugar and no-added-sugar products; and digestive (probiotics and prebiotics) products.

There’s no denying, global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives has soared at a rate of 8% annually the past 10 years. With retail sales valued at $15.6 billion, milk alternatives represented 12% of total fluid milk and alternative sales globally in 2017, according to Euromonitor.

“Nutrition, price and flavor tend to favor dairy, but changing consumer perceptions around health, lifestyle choices, curiosity and perceived sustainability are increasingly drawing more people to select dairy-free products,” writes Bailey.

The challenge for dairy lies mostly in fluid milk, where retail sales in Western Europe ($18.6 billion) and the U.S. ($12.5 billion) declined at an annual rate of 5% and 3%, respectively, in the five years to 2017, according to Euromonitor.

“Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5% for years to come, with demand for non-fluid categories offsetting weak fluid milk sales,” according to Bailey. “The results over the last five years have favored dairy players who have invested in milk alternatives across the supply chain, from planting almond trees to buying brands. The investments in dairy alternatives have shown returns above standalone dairy.”

The RaboResearch dairy report identifies the largest segment of consumers choosing dairy alternatives as being Millennials and Gen Z. Part of the reason dairy alternatives resonate with these groups is because marketers of these products connect and communicate with them on a more emotional level than traditional dairy foods marketers. The latter tends to be more facts and figures based, and that simply does not resonate with younger shoppers.

“Instead of fighting emotion with facts, the time has come to seriously consider implementing a new and possibly blended strategy,” writes Bailey. “The outlook for both dairy and alternatives remains bright through 2030, and perhaps even brighter together.”

He believes—as do I—the dairy industry needs to be more aggressive in product innovation. Value-added products provide a story that helps make that emotional connection.

Photo source: Blount Fine Foods

Here’s food for thought. Millennials and Gen Z love fresh soup. This was confirmed by exhibitors at the restaurant show. A driving force behind soups’ popularity with these younger demographics is that it’s familiar and comforting, while at the same time affordable. Soup also may be quite healthful, and for the most part, be simply formulated with fresh, local ingredients, qualities many Millennials and Gen Z are looking for in their prepared foods from retail and in foodservice.

Soup is also a low-risk item. Consumers can try new and interesting flavors without worrying about spending too much for something they may not enjoy. And soup is convenient.

Blount Fine Foods, one of the largest suppliers of prepared soups and mac and cheese to foodservice, including foodservice at retail, uses fluid dairy--not alternatives--in many of its products. And Millennials and Gen Z are eating it up.

The company identifies Guida’s Dairy as one of its preferred vendors. In 2017, Guida’s Dairy provided Blount with 10,708,859 lbs. of light cream; 5,769,470 lbs. of milk; 2,874,124 lbs. of heavy cream; and 1,210,933 lbs. of half and half.

Today’s consumers may be drinking less fluid dairy, but they are eating—or slurping—it!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dairy Goodness: Be Transparent in Product Development

“Science says we can. Society questions if we should.”

Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity said this at the 2018 Food & Agribusiness National Conference on May 17, 2018, in Minneapolis. Organized and hosted by the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, Arnot and I spoke on the topic of transparency in today’s food industry.

That statement says a great deal regarding where we are in today’s food culture. Just because something is scientifically feasible does not mean consumers will accept it. And if we want them to accept it, we better explain it to them. That’s the foundation of transparency in food manufacturing and marketing; however, there are many degrees to which one can be transparent.

Please take a moment to view this VIDEO on Colin the chicken to see just how far transparency can go with food.

There’s no denying that transparency is paramount in today’s food culture.

Transparency is the currency of trust, according to Deborah Arcoleo, director of product transparency at The Hershey Company. In April 2015, Hershey published a complete ingredient glossary on its website. You can view it HERE.

With this disclosure, Hershey owns its story. To preserve dairy’s goodness, processors must own their story, too. The absence of information allows someone else to “make up” a story, which in this day and age takes seconds to share via social media.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=texture

Hopefully you found humor with the Colin video, which came out about seven years ago. But here’s a company that is almost at that level of transparency.

Fishpeople Seafood was founded in 2012 to “re-imagine North America’s relationship to the sea.” The company’s passion for sustainability is helping restore habitats and peace-of-mind to fish lovers nationwide. All of Fishpeople’s seafood is responsibly sourced and sustainably caught in the Pacific Northwest by independent American fishermen, according to Ken Plasse, CEO. Packages provide the story of the place where the fish was raised. For more information, consumers can use the tracking code on the package to learn about where the fish came from, how it was caught and the full journey from waters to package.

“That’s right, we’re talking ridiculous transparency,” said Plasse at the Association for Corporate Growth conference in Chicago on April 19, 2018.

This is the future of food and the dairy industry is well poised to tell more of its story. Check out this VIDEO on “The best of dairy made better.” Learn how ingredients can work for your product. Communicate the role of various ingredients to consumers. Shoppers want to know it.

The 13th Annual Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation published this week. Data supports why transparency will become more important in food marketing. It should encourage dairy processors to be louder with their story.

Eight in 10 consumers said there is a lot of conflicting information about what foods to eat or avoid, a number similar to 2017. Of those people, 59% say that conflicting information makes them doubt their food choices.

“This dietary disconnect—the inability to connect specific foods and nutrients to desired health outcomes—illustrates the need for stronger, clearer, nutrition education based on the best available evidence,” says Joseph Clayton, CEO of the IFIC Foundation.

“Food values” continue their growth as a factor in consumers’ decision making, with organics increasingly popular in purchasing choices. When shopping for foods and beverages, 29% buy those labeled “organic,” up from 25% in 2017. Thirty-seven percent of shoppers bought foods and beverages billed as “natural,” up from 31% in 2017.

The importance of sustainability in food production also loomed larger in 2018, with 59% of consumers saying it’s important that the foods they purchase and consume be produced in a sustainable way, jumping up from 50% in 2017.

But in the end, the key drivers behind consumers’ food and beverage purchases are largely unchanged in 2018. “Taste” still reigns supreme (as it has every year the Food and Health Survey has been conducted), with 81% saying it has at least some impact in their buying decisions, followed by familiarity (a new addition in this year’s survey, at 65%), price (64%), healthfulness (61%), convenience (54%) and sustainability (39%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the current communications environment, consumers are averse to artificial ingredients, at least compared to the alternatives. When asked to choose between two versions of the same product—an older one that includes artificial ingredients and a newer version that does not—seven in 10 (69%) chose the product with no artificial ingredients, while one-third (32%) chose the one containing artificial ingredients.

The survey also asked those who preferred a product with no artificial ingredients how much they would be willing to pay versus a similar product with artificial ingredients that cost $1.00. An impressive 62% said they would pay up to 10% more ($1.10) for the product without artificial ingredients; 42% would pay up to 50% more ($1.50) and 22% would pay double the price ($2).

Communicating price increases is part of the transparency story.

Context is also key in how consumers perceive the healthfulness of two products with otherwise identical nutritional content. When asked to identify the healthier of two products with the same Nutrition Facts, 40% perceived one labeled “non-GMO” as healthier vs. 15% for one with genetically engineered ingredients, and 33% believed a product with a shorter ingredient list was healthier than one with more ingredients (15%).

Again, this is why transparency is so important. Explain the purpose of ingredients. It might be for color, to preserve flavor, to keep it safe, etc. Tell the story. Shoppers are reading the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient legend. They want to know more. The IFIC survey showed that more than half of consumers look at the Nutrition Facts panel or ingredient list often or always when making a purchasing decision.

Shoppers expect food manufacturers to be transparent with product ingredients, manufacturing processes and sourcing practice, according to data compiled by McKinsey & Company.

Research from The Hartman Group confirms that consumers want more information about a company’s economic, social and environmental practices. The more the better. While information about practices directly connected to the product or service is most essential, consumers are also interested in broader corporate practices.

It is not about the quantity of the information. It’s about the quality of the information. It is also the content of the information and the manner in which it is given. Consumers evaluate a company’s transparency in terms of access to its values, policies and practices, and the openness of communication between a company and its customers.

“Transparency is more than enabling a moral evaluation of trustworthiness for brands; it is a way for companies to reveal details about production and sourcing that enable consumers to find higher-quality distinctions otherwise concealed in conventionally marketed branded commodities,” says Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group.

While it’s rarely a primary driver of purchase, transparency attributes on a product can potentially settle a competitive draw in otherwise identical products where what is being communicated makes sense. The strongest transparency attribute today made on packaging in terms of relevance to consumers is “how it was made.”

This is huge for dairy’s goodness. Let’s get louder and tell our story. 

Separately, interested in learning more about formulating high-quality dairy and non-dairy frozen desserts? Plan to attend Session 26 “It’s a New Day in Frozen Desserts: Decode the Latest Healthy Snack Channel Through Robust, Value Added Formulation” at IFT18, the annual scientific meeting and exhibition of the Institute of Food Technologists, which will take place July 15 to 18 in Chicago. Link HERE for more information.

The session takes place Monday, July 16, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm (room N427D). Speakers will focus on formulating value- and nutrition-added frozen desserts, including new sensory evaluation research for these on-trend innovations. A variety of functional ingredients will also be discussed, from stabilization to new technologies in reducing added sugars to protein and fruit and vegetable sources. Manufacturing experts will also discuss formulation and processing challenges.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=texture

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Next Generation Coffee-Dairy Products

Photo source: Starbucks

Now that spring has finally arrived in Chicago, I find myself taking afternoon walks to Starbucks for a little pick-me-up beverage. I most recently enjoyed the Cold Foam Cascara Nitro Cold Brew, which uses velvety Nitro Cold Brew without ice (but I had a few cubes added, as I was walking, and the sun was warm). It was topped with subtly sweet cascara cold foam and cascara topping.

Wow! Talk about a smooth coffee drink. This is the quality consumers are starting to expect in the ready-to-drink sector. From the coffee to the froth, this beverage satisfied, and a grande was a mere 80 calories!

While rich, steamed milk foam has been a hallmark of Starbucks coffee, cold foam is a modern twist designed to be the perfect finish to cold beverages. Frothed cold instead of hot by blending nonfat milk until it is smooth, the foam provides layers of creamy texture and flavor without the milkfat.

Oh, and if you are wondering what cascara is, it happens to be one of the hottest ingredients being added to coffee beverages.  utm_source=BerryonDairy&utm_medium=728x90&utm_campaign=SynergyPureColdBrewCoffee&utm  _content=AnimatedBanner

Stumptown Coffee Roasters provides this description for cascara:

Coffee beans are the seed of a fruit, commonly referred to as a coffee cherry. This small, fleshy fruit can vary in color based on its variety, but is most often yellow or red when ripe. The cherry itself contains caffeine (that’s how coffee gets its caffeine) and is high in antioxidants. The fruit protects its seeds as they grow and develop by deterring insects and other wildlife that could prevent the development of the seed.

The process of pulping removes the seed from its cherry. When the seeds are roasted, you get coffee. But what happens to the cherries that worked so hard to protect those coffee beans? Typically, the cherry is discarded once it is separated from the seed. In some cases, coffee cherries can be turned into compost and used on the farm as fertilizer.

Now it’s being used in coffee beverages for extra caffeine and a layer of flavor. It is often described as having a sweet, fruity taste with notes of rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, red current, mango or even tobacco. It’s delicious.

There have been a number of premium innovations in the ready-to-drink coffee-milk category around the world. Many provide added value in terms of nutrition. 

Some include cascara, such as SlimFast’s new SlimCafé, which comes in Mocha Macchiato and Caramel Cappuccino flavors. Crafted from real brewed coffee and milk, these rich and creamy iced beverages are a true indulgence. SlimCafé offers consumers a smarter creamy coffee choice, with a boost of natural energy. It has zero added sugar and 82% less sugar than many other coffeehouse beverages. And with 10 grams of protein (from reduced fat milk and milk protein concentrate) and only 120 calories, SlimCafé is a smart snack that can be enjoyed while following the clinically proven SlimFast Plan…or not.

“Whether you’re simply watching your calories or trying to lose weight, one thing we know for sure is people never want to give up their coffee,” says SlimFast CEO Chris Tisi. “We set out to find a way to give people that delicious, decadent flavor they expect from a latte, without all of the sugar and calories.”

A decadent innovation comes from Coca-Cola South Pacific, which has launched a new dessert-inspired flavored coffee-milk range to the Australian market. Sold under the Barista Bros banner, new Café Creations line comes in Butterscotch Brownie, Dark Chocolate Fudge and Toffee Almond Panna Cotta flavors.

Coca-Cola says it launched Café Creations to attract new male and female consumers to the flavored milk category. The rollout comes after the successful introduction of Barista Bros Mocha chocolate-flavored coffee in 2017.

Earlier this week I featured JoeFroyo as a Daily Dose of Dairy. JoeFroyo Functional Cold Brew combines the kick of caffeine from cold brew coffee with probiotics and protein from drinkable yogurt. Free from artificial colors and sweeteners, and containing no lactose, gluten or preservatives, the drink is fortified with milk protein isolate and whey in order to deliver 15 grams of dairy proteins per 12-ounce bottle. The refrigerated drink uses high-pressure processing to extend shelf-life without relying on chemical preservatives.

“The functional beverage market is seeing exponential growth right now, but wherever we looked, we could see drinks that sacrificed taste for benefits or benefits for taste,” says Zach Miller, president and CEO. “With JoeFroyo, we tried to create a functional beverage that checked all the boxes. It’s full of long-lasting energy, natural health benefits and we never compromise on great taste.”

A 12-ounce ready-to-drink bottle contains 270 to 290 calories, 3 to 4 grams of fat, 27 to 28 grams of sugar, and 15 to 16 grams of protein, depending on variety, of which there are three. They are: Espresso, Latte and Mocha flavors.

And though this next beverage innovation does not contain dairy, it shows you the sophistication of ready-to-drink cold-brew coffee.

7-Eleven is rolling out Fizzics Sparkling Cold Brew Coffee in the first self-chilling cans available to the public in the U.S. The innovative Chill-Can technology filled with the Fizzics coffee drink is being tested at 15 Los Angeles-area 7-Eleven stores. The beverage comes in Regular, French Vanilla and Caramel flavors. It is made with 100% Arabica beans and all natural flavors, with each 8.4-ounce can of the fizzy brew containing only 50 calories, 10 grams of sugar and about 80 milligrams of caffeine.

The Chill-Can containers are purchased at ambient temperature and chilled when ready to consume. When activated, the patented technology utilizes reclaimed carbon dioxide and the process automatically chills the can and the sparkling coffee beverage inside.

“Because the self-chilling can technology is so groundbreaking, we wanted to introduce it with a super innovative beverage,” says Tim Cogil, 7-Eleven director of private brands. “Sparkling coffee sodas met all the criteria. Previously available in some coffee shops, a handful of exclusive canned carbonated brews began showing up last summer. Fizzics will be the first that can be chilled on demand, bringing a new level of convenience to customers who want to enjoy a chilled drink whenever and wherever they are.”

Remember, cold-brew coffee is not limited to beverages. Tillamook recently teamed up with Stumptown to offer Tillamook Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee Whole Milk Farmstyle Greek Yogurt. The new variety is one of four new Greek yogurt flavors that Tillamook is introducing this year. The collaboration with Stumptown is the second from the two powerhouse brands. The partners also introduced a cold brew coffee ice cream in 2016.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the moms out there. I hope you are served a delicious coffee-milk beverage in bed!  utm_source=BerryonDairy&utm_medium=728x90&utm_campaign=SynergyPureColdBrewCoffee&utm  _content=AnimatedBanner

Friday, May 4, 2018

Second Breakfast: An opportunity for dairy foods to be part of the mid-morning mini-meal.

The second breakfast, as the name suggests, is a meal consumed after breakfast and before lunch. Some might call it a mid-morning snack, but in the past month I’ve heard the term “second breakfast” used more than a dozen times, as it suggests a heartier snack, something more than simply a stand-alone bar or a smoothie. It’s more of a multi-component mini-meal with some interactivity.

The second breakfast is not new. It’s a traditional meal served in Germany, Hungary and Poland. It’s a coffee break, often with pastry, soft pretzel or toast, and cold cuts or sausage, sometimes with cheese or a hard-cooked egg. Sounds a lot like some of the protein snack packs rolling out in today’s marketplace.

For those of you who are fans of hobbit-based novels, you may be aware that these fictional creatures of small size with hairy feet like to eat six to seven mini-meals a day, including the second breakfast.

It’s time to get creative with this daypart meal and make sure dairy is part of the mix. It’s an excellent opportunity to offer consumers flavor adventure.

Take note, most consumers’ eating routines are still defined by breakfast, lunch and dinner. Consumers adapt their mealtime priorities to fit their needs, which vary by individual, household and even by the day, according to the “Transformation of the American Meal 2017” report from The Hartman Group.

The report explores how traditional notions of the mealtime and meals have evolved and what remains the same. It pinpoints new occasions and opportunities emerging from consumers’ changing habits and needs, and shows what traditions or assumptions about mealtimes no longer hold true.

“Long-term shifts in American culture have reshaped the way we live and eat today,” says Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer at The Hartman Group.“People are snacking throughout the day, eating alone in greater numbers. Shopping for food, dining out and planning what to eat have all changed dramatically in the past few decades as American food culture has shifted to prioritize, on the one hand, greater customization to personal tastes and needs—especially through healthier, fresher, less processed food—and on the other hand, our continuing and undiminished desire for convenience, variety and good value.”

What does this mean for your business?

“The gap between the ideal meal and most consumers’ reality is largely the result of the deprioritization of meals and cooking,” says Demeritt. “Rather than schedule our days around mealtimes, we schedule our meals around everything else that might be going on in our days.”

She explains that breakfast is highly functional, driven by habit and the need for morning energy. Lunch often falls victim to snacking. Most are simply eating to get through the afternoon until dinner.
Hence, the opportunity for the second breakfast. The time is right to make sure dairy is part of this mini-meal.

The term second breakfast appeals to those consumers who might get stressed out about choosing a healthful snack. It gives them permission to eat when they are hungry from around 10:30am to 11:00am.

“Often at the crux of consumers’ snacking tensions is the (im)balance between intentionality and aimlessness,” says Demeritt. “Aimless snacking is a snacking occasion with feeling either ‘I was just eating out of habit’ or ‘I had no particular emotional feeling at all.’”

Technomic’s recently released “2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report” reveals that not only are views on snacking broadening, but consumers are also more likely now than in 2016 to replace one or two meals per day with snacks. While most consumers eat three meals a day with a few snacks throughout, the gap between eating three meals per day and replacing meals with snacks is narrowing.

“As busy consumers continue to seek convenience and increasingly replace meals with snacks, look for grab-and-go boxes and heartier snacks…to fill the hunger gap,” says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Technomic.

Key takeaways from the report include:
  • 80% of consumers say they snack at least once a day
  • Consumers who replace meals with snacks are most likely to replace lunch
  • 37% of consumers say that any food can be a snack if the portion size is small

Here are some of my ideas:
  • Think beyond cheese cubes in refrigerated snack packs. Why not cottage cheese, maybe in a blended dip or spread format with a side of whole grain crackers or jerky chips?
  • How about spreadable cheese or protein-enriched yogurt or sour cream-based dip?
  • Or dairy-filled, chocolate-covered snacking squares, with a side of almonds?
  • Even ice cream can become compartmentalized with healthful inclusions such as nuts, seeds and whole grains for mixing in.

With all of these innovations, protein should be a focal point, as protein satiates, thus curbing appetite until lunchtime rolls around. Protein is also associated with increasing strength, building muscle, enhancing recovery, slowing age-related muscle loss and more. Dairy proteins also contain all the essential and nonessential amino acids, thus they are a complete protein.

While writing this on Thursday morning, I was enjoying my second breakfast of grape tomatoes, quinoa crackers and pimento cheddar cheese spread that I blended with whey protein. Fortunately for me, I work from home and was able to make this myself. A snack pack of something similar would be great for office folks.

That’s what The Chaat Company now offers. The company is reinventing itself with mini-meals that can function as a second breakfast, or as a heartier portable snack for other dayparts. About two years ago, the company rolled out Savory Yogurt Snack, a line of dome-style single-serve cups of whole milk probiotic savory yogurt with lentil puff topping. It was designed to resemble the “street food” of India, which is the translation of chaat.

The product immediately got the attention of Whole Foods. And for about a year the company spent time sampling the product, but always in the yogurt department. This was just not working out, because as we all know, the dairy department is crowded, confusing and also geared towards breakfast or as a sweet snack.

The company regrouped. After researching the retail landscape, they decided their chaat needed to be in the prepared foods/grab-and-go-aisle.

“This is where consumers are exploring,” said Anshu Dua, co-founder, at the American Food Innovate Summit held in Chicago February 4-5, 2018. “They are less price sensitive and it’s an area where many retailers are investing. Grocers are already successful with ethnic offerings in this space, which is geared towards lunch, dinner and snacking.

“Chaat fills our target (millennials and Gen Z) audience’s desire for flavor adventure,” he said.

One of the products is New Delhi Nachos, which is known as Papri Chaat in the streets. This build-your-own snack box comes with crunchy chickpea chips you top with fresh chopped fruits and veggies and a spiced tamarind yogurt.

There’s also Punjabi Puffs. Known as Dahi Puri in India, this mini-meal comes with puffed crackers you pop open and fill with garam masala spiced chickpeas, yogurt and chutneys.

“Open wide and eat in one bite,” says Shiraz Noor, co-founder. “You’ll never reach for those potato chips again.”

BREAKING NEWS…During my second breakfast, news broke regarding FDA’s planned delay for implementation of an updated Nutrition Facts. Compliance dates for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales are now being pushed from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, while compliance dates for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will move from July 26, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2021.

Photo source: ESHA Research

“This extension on the Nutrition Facts label regulation will help ensure that we provide the food industry with guidance to help them modernize their Nutrition Facts labels and that industry has sufficient time to complete and print updated Nutrition Facts labels,” according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in an issued statement. “It’s crucial that we provide clear expectations so that industry can meet them.”

Among the changes under the rule, manufacturers are required to revise the nutrition label format to make the calories more prominent, list the amount of “added sugars” in grams and update the list of vitamins and minerals.

There are also changes to serving sizes. Manufacturers must label containers of food that can be consumed in one sitting as a “single-serving container” and include dual columns on certain foods that can be consumed in one or multiple sittings that list both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information.