Thursday, July 26, 2018

Co-Packer Considerations

The dairy foods industry is overflowing with entrepreneurs, which is a beautiful thing. Innovative product development and healthy competition keeps the dairy case exciting and consumers interested in all things dairy.

I was asked numerous times at the Summer Fancy Food Show about co-packers, and it seems in the past month, calls and emails on this topic have been significantly up. It seems like a good time to discuss the variables to consider when shopping for a co-packer.

Early in the process of innovation, startups must decide whether they want to invest in processing, packaging and warehousing (to have control over the operation as well as secure any proprietary technology) or to partner with a contract manufacturer, a.k.a. a co-packer.

More times than not, entrepreneurs and smaller manufacturers choose to partner with an expert to manufacture their products. There are many reasons why this is the smarter option.

The most obvious reason is that this option reduces capital investment and assists with cash flow, freeing up dollars for marketing efforts to build brand awareness.

Co-packers are also experts at what they do. This frees up man power and brain time, reducing energy spent on learning the process and troubleshooting common production issues.

Before you begin interviewing potential co-packer partners, it is paramount that you identify those criteria that are non-negotiable and those where there’s flexibility.

Keep in mind, co-packers vary in capabilities. Decide if you want to source ingredients and packaging, or if you prefer the co-packer do this for possible bulk pricing benefits.

Speaking of pricing, determine your cost structure. Discuss potential hidden expenses.

Set quality standards. Identify product and package specifications, including shelf life requirements, as well as certifications such as allergen-free lines, kosher, organic, etc.

Safety, quality and record keeping are not negotiable in this day and age. Do your homework. Evaluate the co-packer’s safety and sanitation procedures. Do they have a HACCP plan? Are they compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act? Is the manufacturing facility regularly audited by an accredited firm? Is the co-packer prepared to properly handle a recall?

Ask for referrals. Find out how reliable the co-packer is for scheduling production. How far in advance do you need to confirm schedules?

Then there’s that gut feel we all have when doing business. Do you feel that the co-packer will work with you when issues arise? Troubleshoot with you? Communicate in a timely manner? In general, the more transparent a co-packer is willing to be, the more trustworthy the partnership will be. This is even more important when proximity is an issue.

Remember, if you are prepared and do your homework, it will be easier to identify the best co-packer for your innovation. Your chance of success increases.

Link HERE to a list of co-packers that specialize in milk and dairy foods manufacturing.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ice Cream Innovation: Decoding the Latest Healthy Snack Channel through Robust Value-Added Formulation

It was my pleasure to visit with so many of you during IFT18 this past week in Chicago. I hope you had a successful event and will have a chance to relax this weekend.

Thank you Ingredion for inviting me to speak at your Monday afternoon symposium on ice cream innovation. (Thanks Bob, Morgan, Peter, Steve and so many others for attending!) I kicked off the session by identifying five disruptions taking place in retailers’ freezers. The expert panel I shared the stage with provided application information to assist with the development of on-trend frozen desserts.

Here are some highlights.

Disruption #1: Nutrient Claims
High-protein, low-to-no added sugars and lower-calorie ice creams continue to be in the spotlight. I believe marketers would be smart to position them as refuel products targeted to the fitness-focused consumer who wants to increase protein content and is tired of bars and beverages.

Freezers such as this one photographed in a Chicago Jewel are often stocking more than a dozen brands of these products, with nearly 100 SKUs. This includes private-label offerings. Jewel, for example, offers the Open Nature Scandal-Less line.

Most recently, Target has entered the category under its Archer Farms brand. The line is debuting in six varieties. They are: Caramel Maple Bourbon Pie, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Cookie Dough, Mini Donut and Mint Cookies and Cream. They are all dairy based, but that’s not to say that dairy-free options are not in the pipeline. After all, dairy-free frozen desserts are disruption #3.

Disruption #2: Snacking
Grab-and-go, single-serve and pints, or almost pints, dominate retailers’ ice cream freezers. In many instances, consumer preference for this pack size is to assist with portion control. Other times it’s an invitation to try a new flavor. The smaller size is less of a commitment than a half-gallon or similar carton size.

Smaller containers also allow for more stuff, both better-for-you whole food ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and nuts—ingredients many snackers are looking for in their mini meal—as well as indulgent inclusions, everything from praline caramel to cherry cheesecake cubes.

Disruption #3: Non-Dairy Products
Donna Klockeman, senior principal in food science at TIC Gums/Ingredion provided a step-by-step approach to formulating non-dairy frozen desserts and the considerations that must go into selecting the fluid base, sweetener system, stabilizer/emulsifier blend and bulk solids. She provided two prototype concepts, one a more basic non-dairy frozen dessert; the other one designed to compete in the high-protein, low-sugar segment.

For a copy of her presentation, please reach out to her HERE.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=alt_dairy

MaryAnne Drake, professor of food science at North Carolina State University, followed with a sensory analysis comparison of the prototypes. She provided insight into the sensory attributes that are almost always lacking in non-dairy frozen desserts when they are compared to their dairy counterparts.

Even though they are lacking, consumers are often willing to cut the product some slack in order to enjoy a frozen creamy treat.

What’s important to note about the trend in non-dairy is that it is being embraced by dairies.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a 70-year old, family-owned California dairy has entered the category with a line of Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts. Coming up with a product that met McConnell’s high standards was challenging, but after a process that took the better part of a year, McConnell’s co-owner and chef Eva Ein finally arrived at a product that met the criteria. The secret ingredient? Peas, or more specifically, pea protein.

“There’s nothing interesting or innovative about coconut cream, almond or cashew milk, or soy-based ‘ice creams,’” says McConnell’s co-owner and CEO, Ein’s husband, Michael Palmer, referring to the industry’s standard alternatives to dairy-based ice creams. “These are the same products that have been out there for years, and the results are rarely worth it.” According to Palmer, it’s difficult to remove the coconut or roasted nut taste from a coconut cream or nut-based product. In attempting to do this, companies typically over-flavor their products, along with pumping these products full of air and stabilizers, which results in chalky, crumbly, inconsistent texture.

McConnell’s Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts are made from a proprietary blend of 100% micronized pea protein. Pea protein is a sustainable protein derived from yellow peas, the very same plant-based protein found in many of the food industry’s cutting-edge vegetarian and dairy-free milk substitutes. The result? McConnell’s Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts line, made from a base that is both neutral in flavor and shares the mouthfeel--and many other characteristics--found in McConnell’s super smooth, 18.5% butterfat ice creams. McConnell’s dairy-free is also lower in fat and sugar, cholesterol-free and non-GMO.

“People who crave great ice cream want to taste great ice cream, whether it’s dairy-based or not. The last thing we want to have to do is apologize for giving customers a lesser experience. They shouldn’t have to settle,” says Palmer.

The line comes in five flavors that feature premium ingredients. They are: Cookies & Cream, Dark Chocolate Chip, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip and Turkish Coffee.

Disruption #4: Ingredients
Indeed, ingredient selection is paramount in all frozen desserts, have it be superpremium, traditional, better-for-you or non-dairy.

The final presenter, Angela Spihlman, technical development manager, Balchem Ingredient Solutions, looked at the evolution of inclusions, caramel variegates and other flavorful ingredients. She provided examples of how suppliers have been able to modify such ingredients to meet product claims and ingredient statement targets, namely the removal of chemical-sounding ingredients to have a cleaner-label product. Even caramel, traditionally made with butter and cream, among other indulgent ingredients, can now be formulated to be vegan for that growing category of non-dairy frozen desserts.

Dairy remains the focus, however, for Velvet Ice Cream, which developed a new sweet and slightly savory flavor for the Ohio State Fair. Premium ingredient selection is sure to make new Spicy Caramel a winner at the fair. The concept is sweet caramel ice cream swirled with cayenne-infused caramel sauce, composing an exciting fusion of flavors that first cools the mouth, then warms it with the heat of cayenne pepper.

This imaginative limited-release ice cream is available only at the Ohio State Fair, which runs July 25 to August 5 in Columbus, Ohio. Crafted specifically for the fair, this year’s concoction is the brainchild of a tasting panel consisting of Velvet Ice Cream development pros and Ohio State Fair officials.

“We wanted to create a flavor that ties together classic caramel with an unexpected twist,” says Joanne Dager, vice president. “With our history of more than 104 years in Ohio's dairy industry, Velvet Ice Cream is always proud to be a major part of the Ohio State Fair. Each year we look forward to creating a special flavor just for fairgoers.”

Disruption #5: Processing Method
The last disruption is the de-industrialization of making frozen desserts. It’s the trend towards retailers making more room in their frozen dessert freezers for artisan, small-batch and hand-crafted products made from entrepreneurial or local producers, or those who have a history in the community.

In many instances, these companies are more willing to tell the story about the product’s ingredients, the manufacturing process and even sourcing. Today’s shoppers increasingly want this transparency and it impacts purchasing decisions.

It’s time to disrupt the ice cream category with some on-trend innovations.  utm_source=berry_on_dairy&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=728x90&utm_campaign=uscan_  dairy&utm_term=alt_dairy

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Making Dairy what’s for Dessert

Photo source: Univerisity of Wisconsin-Madison

Ice cream, refrigerated desserts and baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies are trending these days. The Specialty Food Association’s 2018 State of the Industry report attributes this to Millenials, who collectively cannot get enough of these sweet treats.

They want dessert, and often at strange times, according to Michael LaVitola, CEO and co-founder of Foxtrot, an upscale convenience store chain and home-delivery service in Chicago that delivers all too often a single pint of premium ice cream—usually Jeni’s or Coolhaus—to your door within 60 minutes of ordering.  
LaVitola spoke at the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network Innovation Breakfast on July 12th at Fifty Gazelles. Foxtrot caters to the urban Millennial who wants quality and convenience. Foxtrot is the next-generation corner store, curating Chicago’s best craft beer, wine, spirits, fresh eats, gifts and everyday essentials, all available for delivery.

Hint, hint, while in Chicago for IFT this week, if you have a craving, you know who to call! Link HERE to order ice cream.
Visit Ingredia at Booth S704 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The dairy industry needs to make sure that dairy products are being served—or delivered--for dessert.
Guess what else the Specialty Food Association’s report says about Millennials? They want high-protein snacks. This explains their obsession with high-protein products such as Halo Top. Yes, it’s available for delivery from Foxtrot.

The entire Foxtrot delivery concept really provides insights into what Millennials want, when they want it. I encourage you to check it out HERE.

Dairy desserts cater to the impulse for indulgence, such that even nutrition and weight-conscious consumers find themselves craving rich and creamy desserts, according to a recent report on the topic from Market Research Future.

The term dairy desserts encompasses a wide range of products, all with milk—and often cream—a dominant ingredient. This includes ice cream, indulgent yogurts, custard, sherbet, pudding and more. Though they are not considered a primary source of nutrition, these products do provide protein, vitamins and minerals, giving them an edge over other sweet treats such as confections and baked goods.

They also contain milkfat, something today’s consumers appear to be welcoming with open arms. And guess what? Science says they are onto something.

New research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), published July 11, 2018, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke--two of the country’s biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported.

“Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke,” said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans currently recommend serving fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt and/or fortified soy beverages. But Otto pointed out that low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat yogurt and chocolate milk often include high amounts of added sugars, which may lead to poor cardiovascular and metabolic health.

To read more on the study, link HERE.
Visit Ingredia at Booth S704 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. 

Rolling out into the marketplace is new oui by Yoplait oui Petites. These dessert-inspired yogurts come in Caramelized Apple, Chocolate with Shavings and Sea Salt Caramel flavors. They are packaged in 3.5-ounce glass jars and sold in packs of two.

They are whole milk yogurts featuring a simple recipe that is slightly sweetened with cane sugar. Each serving is individually cultured in the same glass pot you eat it from using a traditional pot set process.

Looks like dairy desserts make sense all the way around. Number-one, they are delicious. Second, they provide important nutrients, namely protein and calcium. Third, those high-fat ones, might be doing the body great.

On that note, it’s National Ice Cream Month, and Sunday—July 15—is National Ice Cream Day.

Here’s a story about ice cream innovation that speaks to Millennials.

Minneapolis-based Izzy’s Ice Cream, which is owned by husband and wife couple Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel, is a Twin Cities ice cream shop serving superpremium ice cream handmade from Midwest cream. Izzy’s has more than 150 rotating flavors and is famous for the Izzy Scoop, an extra small scoop on top of every single or double. This is a great way to try something new and always get a little something extra.

Izzy’s teamed up with Periscope, a national creative agency to assist with the development of a flavor for National Ice Cream Day. New Love Potion No. 921 is a blood orange and pomegranate ice cream with a hint of ginger, making it a refreshing treat for the summer. Every ingredient was hand-selected by Periscope employees to reflect the agency’s brand colors and embody its mission to “Do Things People Love,” a motto to infuse passion and empathy into all work from the company.

It’s a motto we could all probably benefit from these days. Love Potion No. 921 is a feel-good dairy dessert.

Pomegranate’s love story began thousands of years ago, and it has been considered a symbol of love by many cultures and countries. Ginger is also a symbol of love, as its scent and spice have the ability to inspire passion. Blood orange just screams passion. It also reflects Periscope’s new brand colors of pink and orange, as well as the blood and heart put into the agency’s work. The 921 is a nod to the agency’s address.

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 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.
 Visit Ingredia at Booth S704 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dairy Foods Innovation: Make “Healthy Living” a Product Development Goal

In less than 10 days, many of you will be in Chicago—my home town—to attend IFT18, the annual meeting and food expo of the Institute of Food Technologists. Experience the newest products, latest trends and cutting-edge innovations when you immerse in the industry’s largest collection of food ingredient suppliers, along with food safety/quality, technology, equipment, processing and packaging suppliers. It is here where you will get a taste of what is next in the science of food.

A dominant theme at IFT18 will be formulating foods for healthy living, a platform that dairy foods plays right into thanks to milk’s nutrient dense composition. Healthy living is also a packaged food megatrend for 2018, as identified by Euromonitor International.

The food industry continues to shift its focus from weight management to nutrition and natural wellbeing, which is why the healthy living trend is broken down into two sub-trends: back to nature and naturally functional. The industry has seen a rise in “back to nature” with a plethora of raw foods and minimally processed foods. Grass-fed dairy also plays into this space as the original plant-based milk. And, with sugar the new villain, processors are exploring ingredients and technologies to reduce or eliminate added sugars in sweetened dairy foods, including flavored milk, ice cream and yogurt. The “naturally functional” sub-trend focuses on gut health, which has links with mental health and performance. The rise in this trend concentrates on fermented foods, probiotics, ancient grains and healthy fats.

Visit BENEO at Booth S1440 at IFT18

“Healthy living is at the top of the food pyramid, impacting almost all categories and geographies,” says Pinar Hosafci, head of packaged food research at Euromonitor. “Savory snacks and dairy, in particular, show the fastest rates of innovation in foods, and so lend themselves best to the application of megatrends.”

A product that fits the healthy living megatrend is Pillars drinkable Greek yogurt. With no added sugar, only 100 calories and a whopping 18 grams of protein per serving, Pillars is made with milk sourced from grass-fed cows and has a Nutrition Facts panel you can’t beat.

A 12-ounce bottle contains only 5 grams of naturally occurring sugar (lactose) in each bottle and is loaded with probiotics and prebiotic fiber. Pillars is all-natural, non-GMO and contains nothing artificial. The company just added two new flavors—coconut and mango—to the lineup.

“We are super excited to be expanding from our original four flavors to now a line of six,” says Eric Bonin, founder of Pillars Yogurt. “The mango and coconut are seriously delicious and perfect for the warmer weather. Early feedback has been very positive, lots of smiles and empty bottles.”

Bonin, disappointed by a market filled with products that were loaded with sugar and other unnecessary ingredients, wanted something better and, as a result, founded Pillars Yogurt. After spending years sourcing the best ingredients and perfecting the recipe, grocery stores can now offer a product that not only tastes great but is also good for you. It’s a drinkable yogurt for healthy living.

And drinks is where the action is in the yogurt category. 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 (see table). 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.

There were a few yogurt segments that provided bright spots in the first three months of the year. Drinkables was one of them. Convenience was a likely driver for continued growth in yogurt drinks (+5.9%) and tubes (3.8%).

Powerful, a four-year-old brand credited with launching the brogurt category (manly yogurt), is growing its business with Greek yogurt-based high-protein smoothie pouches. The refrigerated pouch product has a resealable cap and targets consumers looking for a nutritious, satiating, grab-and-go snack. With no added sugar and made with only natural ingredients, including 2% milk, each pouch contains 170 to 180 calories, 4 grams of fat and 11 to 12 grams of inherent sugar, depending on variety.

The fruit base includes chicory inulin, erythritol and stevia, which enables a no-added-sugar claim. The line is making its debut in Coffee, Mixed Berry and Strawberry Banana varieties. Unopened pouches have a 45-day refrigerated shelf life.

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch pairs Greek nonfat yogurt with crunchy mix-ins to deliver 17 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber with no artificial sweeteners per 5-ounce cup. The four varieties are: Banana with Cocoa Clusters & Chocolate; Coconut with Whole Grain Oats & Almonds; Vanilla with Blueberry Rolled Oats; and Vanilla with Chocolate Oats & Peanuts. Chicory root fiber is the source of fiber and helps keep sugars at 8 grams. Stevia leaf extract also assists with sweetness.

That brings me to the recent ruling on fiber ingredients, which are ready and able to assist with reducing sugar in dairy foods, while boosting intake of fiber, a nutrient of concern.

According to a final guidance published on June 14, 2018, in the Federal Register, inulin and inulin-type fructans, including chicory root fiber; high-amylose starch (resistant starch 2); polydextrose; mixed plant cell wall fibers, including sugar cane fiber and apple fiber; arabinoxylan; alginate; galactooligosaccharide; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin are now recognized by FDA as fiber.

The approval of these eight non-digestible carbohydrates gives food manufacturers additional clarity in updating their labels as needed ahead of the compliance date for FDA’s new Nutrition Facts label, which is Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales, and Jan. 1, 2021, for smaller manufacturers.

The announcement follows various petitions, many with like-ingredient suppliers joining together to request the addition of beneficial non-digestible fibers to FDA’s definition of fiber, which was issued on May 27, 2016. This was FDA’s first time defining fiber, with the definition being “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; or isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with three or more monomeric units) determined by the FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.”

The eight recently approved fibers fit the second definition. The petitions, and supporting research, clearly showed that the fibers support physiological health benefits as assessed by FDA’s strict criteria, such as lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels; lowering blood pressure; increase in frequency of bowel movements (improved laxation); increased mineral absorption in the intestinal tract; and reduced energy intake (for example, due to the fiber promoting a feeling of fullness).

To read the FDA published ruling, link HERE.
Visit BENEO at Booth S1440 at IFT18