Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dairy Foods Flavor Forecast 2020

As the year starts to wind down, food and beverage market analysts issue forecasts for macro trends that will drive innovation. I take those trends and combine them with the knowledge gained throughout the year from attending international trade shows and talking with suppliers and marketers.

While the past few years focused on innovation by creating disruption, in other words, thinking way out of the box and shaking things up, we are starting to see innovators regroup and return to the basics with comforting, familiar flavors. There’s enough disruption in the world and consumers are looking for connections. They want a story.

Innova Market Insights ranked storytelling as the number-one trend among its top-10 trends for 2020. Survey findings from Innova show 56% of global consumers say stories around a brand influence their purchase decision. They want authenticity and transparency, and this comes from the story of the company, of the product and even the flavor of the product.

You can read more about storytelling by linking HERE to an article written by my colleague Jeff Gelski at Food Business News.

When it comes to consumers’ evolving preferences in flavors, there are three food and beverage themes I’ve identified for 2020. They are: warm, earthy and nostalgic. These flavors are often recognized as closer to Mother Nature, e.g., minimally processed. Often times the flavors are coming from the addition of whole ingredients.

They are also often less sweet. And with most consumers aware of the health benefits of decreasing sugar intake, less sweet is good.

In many instances, the colors associated with these flavor themes are going to be in the brown, beige and neutral range. Muted shades and pastels will provide subtle bursts. Vibrant blues, purples and reds, along with bright yellows and oranges will be limited to special occasion foods and beverages, such as confections and cocktails. (And, of course, some ice creams and even kid-focused yogurts.)

Oats speak to all three themes. And while oat beverages are currently dominating headlines, expect to see oats being used to flavor dairy foods. Think clusters, crumbles, cobbler and cookie pieces. Think oatmeal.

Along with rolling out a range of oat drinks and fermented oat blends—both free of dairy—Chobani is also introducing Chobani Greek Yogurt with Oatmeal. This wholesome, hearty product line pairs the nutrient density and probiotic benefits of traditional Greek yogurt with satisfying whole grain oatmeal, offering 4 grams of fiber per cup. Varieties are: Apple Spice Greek Yogurt with Brown Sugar Oatmeal, Blueberry Greek Yogurt with Maple Oatmeal, Banana Greek Yogurt with Maple Oatmeal, and Peach Greek Yogurt with Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

One of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ limited-edition fall flavors was Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. It was house-baked, brown sugar-laden oatmeal raisin cookie pieces in cinnamon-spiked ice cream.

Previously the 70-year-old artisan ice cream maker offers Winter Pear Crisp, which blended a delicate purée of D’Anjou pears with a swirl of homemade pear jam and crispy oatmeal crumbles.

Trending brown flavors are those that go well with oats. Think Stroopwafels and S’mores. This includes brown sugar, caramel, graham, honey, maple and molasses.

Fruits that complement brown flavors will be big in 2020. Think apples, bananas, coconuts, peaches and pineapples. Nuts and warming spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, will often provide an additional layer of flavor into these fruit systems.

Herbs and spices have become common flavoring elements in beverages, and drinkable dairy products are no exception. Expect to see more calming lavender, gut healthy ginger and powerhouse turmeric in drinkable yogurts and cultured dairy foods. They often contribute to the product’s health and wellness positioning.

All types of tea are finding their way into dairy foods. Sometimes it’s as a latte or other drinkable concept, other times it’s in ice cream. The reason is two-fold. First, tea is associated with many Asian ethnicities and regional Asian cuisine is on fire in foodservice. Second, consumers are embracing the healthful aspects of consuming tea antioxidants. This is particularly true of matcha, which has an earthy, slightly bitter flavor. Matcha is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It’s loaded with health and wellness compounds.

New Good Culture Wellness Probiotic Gut Shots complement many of these flavor trends. The gut shots start with a base of pasture-raised kefir that supports digestive health and boosts immunity, while rebalancing gut flora and improving digestion. The 50 billion live and active cultures are what give Good Culture’s kefir its gut-friendly strength. The shots are lightly sweetened with sweet potato juice and coconut sugar (lower glycemic index) and contain no synthetic hormones, preservatives, gums, nor anything artificial.

The four varieties are: Chai + Matcha to create calm, focused energy for mind and body; Chocolate + Chaga to boost energy and deepen immunity; Pineapple + Turmeric to support brain function and joint health; and Vanilla + Collagen to strengthen hair, skin and nail health.

Peanut Butter--crunchy or creamy--has always been a popular flavor in ice cream, but usually paired with chocolate. Now it’s coming out on its own or with other brown foods, namely banana, coconut and yes, peaches.

This past summer, Chobani made nut butter the star in a new line of nut butter on the bottom Greek yogurts. The dairy and plant-protein snack comes in five flavor combinations. They are: Chocolate Greek Yogurt with Hazelnut Butter, Honey Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter, Plain Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter, Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter and Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Cashew Butter.

Cheese ingredients are trending, too. Think goat cheese and honey swirled ice cream or mascarpone cheese tiramisu clusters in a dual-compartment yogurt. Cheese is comforting. It’s warm, earthy and nostalgic.

Dairy foods, in general, are comforting. They are warm, earthy and nostalgic. Let’s make 2020 the year of dairy.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently launched its third annual IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. This is an innovation pitch to help emerging and investment-ready food start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators gain visibility and make strategic connections to help advance the science of food and its positive impact on the sustainability of the global food supply. Link HERE for more information and an application to participate. Enrollment continues through January 9, 2020.

Throughout the competition, finalists are selected in two stages, with six finalists chosen to participate in a six-week mentoring program where they receive guidance from business experts. From there, finalists are selected to present their innovations in a high-profile pitch competition at IFT20 in Chicago on July 14, 2020. A panel of prestigious judges representing influential sectors of the food and related industries will select the recipient of the IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor of the Year award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize. IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge session attendees at IFT20 will be asked to select an IFTNEXT Future Food Disruptor People’s Choice awardee for a cash prize of $5,000. In addition to the cash prizes, other services and products for entrepreneurial advancement will also be included.
IFT20 is an annual event hosted by IFT that brings more than 17,000 science of food professionals together--including scientists, researchers, academics, ingredient, technology and manufacturing companies--with the intention to inspire and transform collective knowledge into innovative solutions that help advance our planet’s food safety, nutrition and sustainability.

QUICK FAVOR: If you have not already, please complete a quick seven-question survey about your experience with Daily Dose of Dairy/ For every survey completed, I will donate 50 cents to The Great American Milk Drive. Please link HERE to the survey.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Dairy Foods 2020: The Fads, the Trends and What Really Matters—Insights for Innovating and Marketing Dairy Foods in the 2020s

Photo source: Amazon

It’s that time of year when we frequently hear the question: Do you believe in Santa? I pose the question: Do you believe in the magic of dairy? I do. And here’s why.

When I started writing for the dairy trade in 1993, Dean Foods—as owned by the Dean family—developed the Milk Chug, making fluid milk a convenient, portable beverage that fit into a car’s cup holder. That’s what you call believing--and understanding--the needs of the future. The Dean Foods team collected market intelligence with foresight to the rapidly expanding and diversifying on-the-go beverage category. The company recognized the opportunity for milk to compete in the single-serve market. The Milk Chug was born.

Sadly, through mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and really, let’s face it, mismanaged priorities, Dean Foods is now bankrupt. There was such potential for the Milk Chug. I’m not even sure it’s in retail distribution anymore.

While the situation is sad, there’s a lesson to be learned. And that is that it’s important to prepare for the future by observing today’s shoppers’ behaviors and what makes them tick. Instead of reacting to the fad of the day, look at the fad and identify what is it about the fad that makes consumers obsess.


With that, I would like to point out the irony in “plant-based” restaurants today proudly featuring French fries and ketchup, imposing a healthful “plant” halo on them. Remember when the National School Lunch Program tried to make ketchup count as a vegetable serving? After all, pickle relish already made the cut.

Today there’s a segment of the population that sees ketchup as healthful because it’s plant based. Some might even say ketchup is riding the fermented food trend, as ketchup is basically acidified tomatoes and salt. Yep, it’s high in sodium. I guess that’s temporarily not a concern among plant-based fanatics. But it will be, once again, very soon. Lowering sodium intake is a long-term health trend. It’s not a fad.

Plant-based groupies also ignore the high-carbohydrate (often simple sugars), high-fat and high-calorie content of the many “plant-based” foods being marketed as such. This includes everything from breaded, fried buffalo cauliflower florets to doughnuts. Yes, many doughnuts qualify as being plant-based foods. But, let me reassure you, added sugars, senseless fats and excessive calories do matter. Mindful eating is a long-term health trend. It’s not a fad.

Fads are quick, short behavioral changes that many follow on impulse, because it sounds cool. Consumer media loves reporting on them as they make for great headlines.

But fads die quick, often quicker than the speed that they rolled in on. Trends, however, have longevity and evolve over time. They may be viewed as the “what” that comes out of the fad.

There are three “whats” in the plant-based diet fad.

1. Consumers want to diversify their sources of protein.
2. Consumers want to eat more whole fruits and vegetables, as well as grains, nuts and seeds. Offering them in fun, flavorful formats helps increase consumption.
3. Consumers are interested in the environmental impact of their food and beverage choices.

Ponder these “whats” as you innovate for the 2020s. Remember, taste always reigns.

With that said, here’s my two cents on “lab-made” foods. If GMOs and rBST make people fearful of the food supply, do you really think today’s shoppers…in the 2020s…are going to purchase lab-made milk? Hey, maybe 30 years from now. Think way in the future. But lab-made milk will not be going in most shopping carts during the 2020s. And if it does, I promise you it will be one of the shortest lived fads ever, even shorter than high-protein ice cream.

I never shied away from cautioning against entering the high-protein ice cream category, a fad that is now on a rapid downward slope. I made more than a few folks angry when I said it was a fad. The reason being that most people consume ice cream for the pleasure of it. It’s an indulgence. It must taste good.

So what were the “whats” in high-protein ice cream? The biggest one was that consumers were looking for new formats of high-quality protein. Lower sugar and lower calories were attractive, too. But at the end of the day, that’s not what most consumers wanted from their ice cream. It made more sense in bars and beverages. Ice cream will remain a treat for the majority!

The dairy industry owns delicious protein. Lower-sugar and lower-calorie milk beverages, yogurts, smoothies and other cultured dairy products are very feasible with advanced clean-label technologies.

Do you believe in dairy? If yes, focus on turning these “whats” into products that shoppers gravitate to now and in the future. And thank you Milk Chug. The package did encourage innovation among other processors.

QUICK FAVOR: If you have not already, please complete a quick seven-question survey about your experience with Daily Dose of Dairy/ For every survey completed, I will donate 50 cents to The Great American Milk Drive. Please link HERE to the survey.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dairy Protein Completes Plant-based Foods

During the past three months I have given numerous presentations around the world regarding the power of U.S. dairy ingredients, providing the audience with innovative uses of dairy ingredients—everything from pizza crust to puffed chick peas. While I enjoy emphasizing that “cheese makes plants taste better,” cheese on plants is not new. Think about the broccoli cheddar casserole and parmesan-encrusted Brussel sprouts that may be part of your upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

What we often overlook is that while dairy makes many foods more delicious, and a bunch of nasty-tasting foods palatable, dairy, namely whey and casein proteins, brings valuable nutrition to many foods. Please repeat this a few times—dairy protein completes plant-based foods--and then start getting creative.

Let’s face it, too often dairy marketers take the conservative road when it comes to promoting their products. Dairy Pure was the best Dean Foods could do for fluid milk, and it was not enough, as we see in its bankruptcy filing this week.

What’s crazy with dairy proteins is that numerous non-dairy companies have built entire businesses around products based on dairy proteins. And consumers are “intentionally” buying these products because of the dairy proteins. They should be intentionally buying dairy foods.

Quest Nutrition is the perfect example. This company made its debut in dairy protein bars, and quickly expanded into frozen pizza (there’s dairy protein in the crust). They also have protein tortilla chips. Yes, the tortilla chips are based on a dairy ingredient and protein system composed of acid casein, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, whey, dried cheese, buttermilk powder and nonfat milk. A one-ounce serving contains 18 to 20 grams of protein, depending on flavor.

The company finally now has ready-to-drink protein shakes, a common dairy format. The chocolate, salted caramel and vanilla shakes contain 160 calories and 30 grams of protein from milk and milk protein concentrate.

Quest Nutrition would not be if it was not for dairy proteins. Dairy processors need to take this approach.

I was fortunate to speak at Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) Northeast Area Leadership Conference in Syracuse, New York, on Tuesday. This is the same day of the Dean Foods bankruptcy announcement, which also included reference to sales discussions with DFA. Talk about being in the right place at the right time to get the vibe. And it was an upbeat one. It was very contagious.

DFA President and CEO Rick Smith spoke to the group and confirmed that there have been discussions with Dean Foods, but that’s about it.

“Everybody’s been telling me for years that we are the logical owner of Dean’s,” he said. “And I’ve already gotten phone calls about people who want to partner with us.

“We will be interested in some assets, undoubtedly. And not interested in some, undoubtedly,” he told a room packed with about 500 Northeast members and suppliers of services to DFA. “Some [assets] should be closed. Some will require partners.”

And the best news of all, DFA expects to grow in fluid milk, as well as all other dairy categories. Smith is very positive about the future of dairy and the need to invest in innovation to keep dairy relevant.

In my presentation, I emphasized the power of dairy protein to the group. That there’s a need for dairy processors to pull in the reigns and start getting creative with formulating and marketing dairy proteins. 

I challenge all of us to start thinking how we can educate consumers on how dairy proteins complete plant-based foods. Remember, dairy delivers essential amino acids

in the ratio the body requires to perform at its best. Dairy provides important vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids. And, yes, dairy make plants taste better.

Dairy protein completes fruit and vegetable smoothies, overnight oats and hummus. If mom wants to serve her 1- to 5-year old child an Impossible Burger, it’s only complete with a glass of whole white milk. To accompany the breaded buffalo cauliflower florets on the Super Bowl buffet, how about offering a protein-fortified ranch dip?

Repeat after me, “dairy protein completes plant-based foods.” Now go innovate.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Milk Accelerator Winners Announced

Last night, Nov. 7, 2019, the nine finalists competing in the California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) Real California Milk Accelerator dairy startup competition presented their products and pitched them to nine judges, including me, in Silicon Valley, California. Accolades go out to all the finalists who spent a great deal of time and energy to create a beverage designed to bring milk back into consumers’ lives in formats they never imagined.

Key attributes of the winning products were high protein, low sugar and lactose free. A number of entries focused on organic and sustainability platforms.

“Tonight is all about milk,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “The number and quality of entries received is a testament to the vibrancy of the beverage category and proves the desire of product developers to tap into the unique natural goodness of milk to meet consumer cravings for beverages that are not only healthy but taste great.”

He explained to the judges and a room packed with California farmers, processors and others involved in the dairy and food industries that fluid milk’s decline during the past four decades can be attributed to a number of reasons. For starters, there’s been and continues to be a proliferation of many varied beverages. Then there’s the mobility issue. We all are eating and drinking on the run and a gallon of the white stuff is simply not portable.

“No one sits down for breakfast anymore,” he said. Bowls of cereal require milk. If bowls are not being filled, milk is not being poured.

Then there’s the fact that birthrate is down in the States. “Big families with lots of kids sitting around the dinner table were the bread and butter of the milk industry,” he said.

It’s hard to battle all these changes, he explained, and therefore the industry must change. That’s how the accelerator came to fruition.

This new competition was designed to inspire ideas integrating the values of fluid milk into contemporary products and provide resources to help bring them to market.

Launched earlier this year, the competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in fluid milk products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting manufacturers, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs for high quality, sustainable dairy beverages.

The nine finalists received up to $25,000 of support each to develop proto-cepts while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging and distribution experts. This included a business development trip to tour California dairy farms and production facilities and meet with industry leaders to help facilitate their new ventures. Each entrepreneur had to commit to producing the beverage using California milk.

The grand prize winner will receive up to $250,000 worth of additional support to deliver their new product to market. And that winner is Bears Nutrition, a daily nutritional milk beverage for kids on the go.

Each bottle of Bears contains 170 calories, 10 grams of protein, nine essential vitamins and minerals, and a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, a formulation that delivers the most critical building blocks for growth and development. Sugar content (15 grams) is 30% lower than fruit juice and still sweet enough for kids to come back for more, according to the company, which was founded by a pediatric nutritionist, an Olympic Gold medalist and a former energy venture capitalist.

The shelf-stable product contains about 90% milk and uses lactase to make it lactose free. This also assists with keeping added sugars down. To boost the protein content, whey and casein are added.

Accepting the grand prize in this photo is David Sheu (left), CEO and one of the founders, and board member Kevin Yeung (right), who is involved in food-related businesses in Asia. As part of the pitch, Yeung detailed the opportunity with exporting this product to Asian markets where kids’ nutritional products are a booming business.
The runner-up product was Perq Plus from Allpur Nutrition Inc. Those of you who have been in the dairy industry long enough will remember this product concept from about 20 years ago. It's a slightly carbonated, lactose-free fruity milk beverage that was before its time. Developed by husband and wife team, George and Mary Ann Clark, a pharmaceutical chemist and registered nurse/child nutritionist, respectively, the product formulation has a number of patents. It’s been approved as an ala carte item in the school lunch program and a number of retailers and distributors are interested in carrying the refrigerated product that has a 72-day shelflife.

Good Citizens Collagen Lattes was the third place finalist. The company was founded by Kiowa Saunders and Ryan Fitzpatrick, entrepreneurs with a number of products in the market who are focused on social impact. Saunders explained how he specializes in identifying gaps in the market and then sets out to responsibly develop products to fill them.

The ready-to-drink shelf-stable lattes contain 55% milk and are enhanced with collagen that is known to support joint strength, and healthy skin, hair and nails. He showed how the product can compete on price and size with enhanced coffee beverages currently in the market. In addition to delivering the nutrition of milk and extra protein from collagen, the beverage provides energy from natural caffeine. Each can contains the equivalent of 1.5 cups of brewed coffee.

The Peoples’ Choice Award went to Stuyt Dairy Creamery, fifth-generation family dairy farmers now in California by way of the Netherlands. They created Dessertables, a custard-like product packaged in a squeezable pouch. It’s based on a traditional Dutch recipe and is created in small batches at the company’s farmstead operation. 

The other five finalists were:

  • Kefircha is based on a traditional fermented dairy recipe from Russia. It contains 90 grams of protein per serving and is said to cleanse, nourish and protect. 

  • Naicha Milk Tea is a ready-to-drink boba milk tea. The organic beverage comes in three varieties: orange pekoe black tea, earl grey lavender and jasmine green tea
  • Nutraberry is a fruity milk beverage made with upcycled berry seeds, which contribute flavor, color, fiber and extra protein. There are sweetened and unsweetened options in blueberry, blackberry and raspberry varieties. 

  • Thai Star Thai Iced Tea is a ready-to-drink version of the popular milk beverage that sells out at the company’s restaurant, as brewing authentic Thai iced tea is a time-consuming process. This drink is made with fair trade black tea from Thailand, and includes a range of spices, such as star anise, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom. 

  • WheyUp is a probiotic, low-viscosity kefir enhanced with whey protein. The no-added-sugar beverage comes in original, with turmeric and earl grey spice flavors in development. 

“This competition has created an opportunity for cutting-edge technologies and dynamic entrepreneurs to drive innovation for a product that has been a household staple for generations,” said Fred Schoenberg, CEO and founder of VentureFuel, a leading innovation consultancy that worked with CMAB to find, identify and mentor the best emerging startups from their global network of investors, founders and academics to drive first-to-market innovation for the dairy space. 

“CMAB’s vision, combined with the ingenuity of the nine selected pioneering startups, sets the stage to educate the public regarding milk’s true nutritional benefits, and re-introduce it to the marketplace in inspired and engaging ways that connect with the public’s current and evolving tastes,” he said. “These startups are thinking about their product every day. Their enthusiasm fuels the hyper-acceleration of research and development to get the product to market.”

For more information, link HERE.

The Organic Trade Association is hosting a briefing on the important fall meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in a live webinar on November 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The webinar will feature regulatory experts to explain the issues discussed at the meeting and answer any questions from stakeholders.

On October 23 to 25, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) held its fall public meeting in Pittsburgh. Over the course of three days, NOSB voted on seven proposals, considered three discussion documents, and voted on more than 50 sunset materials. The results of the meeting are critical to the organic sector. To register for the webinar, link HERE.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dairies Doing Non-Dairy
Dairy is not going away, but the industry will continue to see encroachment from plant-based alternatives, explained Phil Plourd, president, Blimling and Associates, and president of the services division of, at the recent American Dairy Products Institute Dairy Ingredients Seminar in Santa Barbara, Calif. Some estimates suggest the dairy-alternatives market could top $10 billion by 2023, increasing nearly 10% annually from current levels. He stressed that the industry cannot turn a blind eye to the growth. Maybe it’s time for your dairy to get on board!

To learn more about the category and why it makes sense to include non-dairy in your product portfolio, link HERE to download a copy of “Growing Roots in the Dairy Aisle: The Rise of Plant-Based Alternatives.”

Check out these recent non-dairy introductions by dairy companies.

Humphry Slocombe, the rebellious and unapologetic San Francisco-based ice creamery known for its unique, ultra-premium creations, has once again joined forces with Top Chef finalist Melissa King and Whole Foods Market to create a new flavor. It also happen to be the brand’s first-ever plant-based pint. After much success with innovative, dairy-free creations offered in its scoop shops, like Perfectly Imperfect Berry Pie, Cherry Elderflower with Dark Chocolate, and Matcha Lingonberry, Humphry Slocombe now has non-dairy Almond Chocolate Crunch.

The pints are available in more than 150 Whole Foods Market stores in the Southern Pacific, Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains regions. The specialty flavor is also available in the company’s four Bay Area scoop shops, with pint packages launching for nationwide delivery via Goldbelly.

“This isn’t pretending to be ‘ice cream,’” says Jake Godby, co-founder and chef at Humphry Slocombe. “It’s its own thing and it’s dang good.”

Almond Chocolate Crunch is inspired by an almond butter cup. It is made with creamy almond milk, crunchy candied almonds and flecks of chocolate chips.

DAHlicious Organic, manufacturers of India-style lassi drinkable yogurt and spoonable cup yogurt made with 100% grass-fed organic whole milk, now offers plant-based (almond and cashew) varieties. Flavors include: Alphonso Mango, Field Strawberry, Golden Milk Turmeric, Madagascar Almond, Plain and Wild Blueberry.

Stonyfield Organic has launched Fruit & Veggie Smoothie Pouches, which are made with only six simple ingredients. These dairy-free, no-added sugar pouches are made with 100% real fruits and vegetables and coconut cream. The three varieties are: Berry Cherry Blast (blueberries, cherries, apples and beets), Strawbana Smash (strawberries, bananas, pears and sweet potatoes) and Tropical Twist (mangoes, bananas, pears and carrots). 

“With Fruit & Veggie Smoothie Pouches, we’re able to offer not only a nutritious, portable, family-friendly snack, but also cater to different dietary needs and preferences,” says Natalie Levine, brand director. “We recognize what’s important to today’s families, and our new pouches really offer everything--taste, convenience and plant-based--all in one delicious pouch.”

Canada’s Maison Riviera recently broke its century-long tradition of producing only dairy products with the rollout of premium Coconut Based Yogurt Alternative. The brand entered the U.S. market in five varieties—Lemon, Mango and Passion Fruit, Pineapple and Coconut, Raspberry and Blackcurrant, and Vanilla—which come in two-packs of 4.23-ounce glass jars. While coconut milk is the primary ingredient, the product also contains faba bean and pea protein, and is loaded with one billion probiotic cultures per serving.

Chicago-based Medlee Foods is launching four vegan fat blends to compliment the company’s seasoned butter line. The flavors are Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Lemon Chive and Pesto, and they are packaged just like the butters, in perfectly portioned medallions.

“While the original Medlee line has developed a strong customer base, retailers have expressed interest in a premium seasoned cooking fat for vegan shoppers, as well as those consumers who avoid or limit dairy intake,” says Alberto Valdes, president and CEO. “There’s nothing like Medlee Seasoned Vegan Blends in the market. They are a convenient way to liven up pastas and vegetables, elevating them to center-of-plate status.”

Danone North America is growing its Silk Oat Yeah oatmilk line with a zero grams of sugar option.

“Silk has the largest unsweetened portfolio of any plant-based beverage brand. In fact, consumer interest in options with zero grams of sugar has doubled in 2019,” says Travis Hayes, brand manager for Silk. “By introducing an oatmilk with zero grams of sugar, we continue to bring innovative options to meet ever-evolving consumer preferences.”

This past summer, Danone expanded the Silk Oat Yeah brand into the yogurt alternative space. The spoonable cup product combines gluten-free oats with live and active cultures. It comes in four varieties: Mango, Mixed Berry, Strawberry and Vanilla.

And, be on the lookout for the company’s gut-healthy brand Activia to enter the plant-based space in 2020.

In July 2018, Dean Foods Company became a majority stakeholder in Good Karma Foods, a flaxseed-based milk and yogurt alternative brand. Ralph Scozzafava, CEO of Dean Foods at the time, said, “Good Karma is a fast-growing brand that gets us back into the growing plant-based food and beverage category, making it an excellent addition to our portfolio.”
While Dean Foods remains a majority stakeholder in Good Karma Foods, the company has become a voice for protecting use of the word milk and other dairy terms. “We believe it is wrong that many plant-based products are currently marketed using milk’s good name yet are lacking several of the inherent nutrients of their dairy counterparts,” Dean Foods said in a statement. The company grew frustrated with the International Dairy Foods Association over the trade group’s unwillingness to oppose labeling plant-based products with dairy terms and a few weeks ago decided to end its membership with the group.

In the meantime, Good Karma continues to grow its offerings, which sport phrases such as “plant-based sour cream,” “dairy-free yogurt” and “plant-based milk alternative” on packaging. For the holidays, the brand is offering a line of nogs and dips.

Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, is dipping into the plant-based dessert category with the launch of Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Non-Dairy Chocolate Extreme. The vegan products are made with a base blend of coconut oil and almond butter.

“The Baskin-Robbins culinary team has been hard at work on our non-dairy flavors for over two years. It was important for us to take the time to get it right,” says Jeanne Bolger, director of research and development. “Both flavors are so smooth and indulgent, and the final product delivers the incredible quality that our customers have come to expect from any Baskin-Robbins ice cream.”

Ben & Jerry’s, a Unilever brand, continues to grow its dairy-free frozen dessert pints lineup. There are currently 12 offerings, which represent almost 25% of the company’s full-time flavors.

Chobani is getting into the plant-based category with new Non-Dairy Chobani. It is a cultured organic coconut product void of lactose and containing 25% less sugar than many non-dairy options in the marketplace. The line includes both cup and drinkable products, another differentiator in this growing space.

The Non-Dairy Chobani name and packaging represents Chobani’s advocacy for transparency as it pertains to better aligning food standards of identity. The company is taking a leadership role in advocating for transparency to make a clear distinction between milk-based foods and non-dairy options. Chobani believes consumers are more empowered when food companies accurately describe foods and the nutritional benefits they offer.

The Häagen-Dazs ice cream brand of Nestle has an extensive collection of non-dairy frozen desserts, including pints and novelties. One of the brand’s most recent introductions is in the new Spirits Collection, which rolled out to the U.S. marketplace in early 2019. The non-dairy variety is Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee.

Hudsonville Ice Cream has been making traditional dairy ice cream with the same base recipe since 1926. The company’s new dairy-free pint line is made with a blend of oat milk and coconut cream. After more than two years of recipe development and tasting, the line rolled out in seven flavors: Birthday Cake, Caramel Cookie Dough, Cherry Fudge, Chocolate, Mint Fudge Cookie, Peanut Butter Truffle and S’mores.

Perry’s is on board, too. Since 1932 the family-owned dairy has been churning real dairy ice cream. The company decided to get into the plant-based space with new Perry’s Oats Cream. What’s key to note with Perry’s first oat-based, dairy-free frozen dessert is that it’s being positioned as another great Perry’s product, not a dairy alternative. The company is not even bothering with the basic vanilla and chocolate. Perry’s Oats Cream features seven decadent flavors: Apple Strudel, Blueberry Pancake, Coconut Caramel, Oat Latte, Peanut Butter Coffee Cake, Peanut Butter & Cookies and Snickerdoodle. The vegan lineup is a good source of fiber (a nutrient of concern in the U.S. diet) and made with whole grains.

“As a market leader with extensive dairy expertise, we recognized a growing need to bring to market a great-tasting, plant-based frozen dessert,” says Robert Denning, president and CEO of Perry’s. “Consumers look to their trusted ice cream brands to create quality dairy-free options. We certainly believe our team of talented research and development experts hit it out of the park with a full line of these amazing tasting oat-based, dairy-free products.”
The pint packaging features a natural oat tone inscribed with a brand message stating, “ice cream hasn’t been for everyone…until now. Meet Perry’s Oats Cream.”

And that's why dairies are smart to offer non-dairy options.