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

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