Friday, October 11, 2019

Anuga 2019: Five Key Takeaways from the Global Food Innovation Stage

Anuga 2019, Cologne, Germany, October 5-8, 2019. I walked more than 60,000 steps over three days. My tracking device said this was about 25 miles and I did not even make it through the international fine food halls at the world’s largest trade fair for food and beverage. Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the biennial event did not disappoint. There was a record-breaking 7,400 exhibitors and 170,000 visitors. For perspective, this is basically double the size of Expo West!

“Anuga has once again succeeded in presenting the diversity of the food industry in an impressive way,” said Friedhelm Dornseifer, president of the German Association of the Retail Grocery Trade. “In spite of the high importance of social responsibility and sustainability that goes hand in hand with the manufacturing and sales of food, with its wide variety of new products, Anuga 2019 demonstrated impressively that the appreciation of food is above all a matter of taste. Offering products that comply with the ethical needs of the consumers that also provide them with the highest possible degree of enjoyment is a big challenge for food manufacturers and distributors.

“There is tough competition in this sector,” he said.

I could not agree more.

Anuga is not only the gate to the worldwide food and beverage world, it’s an event for inspiration. The special exhibit Anuga Horizon 2050 explored new and ongoing trends, including plant-based meat and dairy substitutes; alternative protein products based on peas, fava beans, insects (there was a lot of insect innovation!) and more; and the many forms of cannabis. Beyond this, themes such as free-from, convenience, upcycled ingredients and vegan also played an important role. (There was a vegan water. Go figure!)

The next Anuga will take place from October 9 to 13, 2021. For more information, link HERE.

This was my 7th Anuga, and by far the most impressive. With more than 25 years of attending trade shows and writing about food and beverage trends, I have five key takeaways from this year’s expo.

1. Cannabis innovation is going to get crazier before it slows down; however, just how many cannabis-containing foods and beverages can the marketplace handle? I do not know the answer to that but what marketers need to recognize is that these products are meant to be consumed in moderation.

When I say the sector is going to get crazy, I mean it. A flavor supplier exhibiting in the beverage hall showcased a cannabis flavor intended to add authenticity to cannabis-infused products. While I do not have a lot of experience in this space, I can tell you that the yogurt product I sampled had that grassy, skunky, musty, sweet, acidic taste that remains in your mouth after smoking weed. Expect a lot more innovation in this space, followed by a lot of failure.

Protein continues to dominate the nutrition conversation, but it’s evolving into aspirational marketing.  

Last month I attended The Hartman Group’s Food Culture Forecast 2019 summit in Chicago. Tamara Barnett, vice-president of strategic insight at The Hartman Group explained, “Food has gotten specific and personal. More than ever, people see food as being more intimately connected with wellness and their broader system of values.”

She explained that experimentation with different diets reflects interest in personalization and variety. Innovators need to figure out how they can help consumers tailor a product or experience to their wellness goals. She encouraged food marketers to look at the trends and pull little strands from them and weave them into product innovations.

“Look at what’s valuable about the trend and the lifestyle,” she said. “Stay focused on the science.”

To read more about “Forecasting Future Food Trends,” link HERE to an article I wrote on the topic for Food Business News.

2. So, back to protein. Many of the new protein-enhanced products rolling out are speaking to health and fitness. Consuming protein has become a means to help one achieve their wellness goals.

Germany’s Elsdorfer will be rolling out in January MyQ Fitness Milk, which is filtered nonfat milk fortified with milk protein concentrate. A serving is more than double the protein of traditional milk. The product can be merchandised in the dairy case or ambient aisle and is being marketed as the “ideal recovery drink” because “milk provides the building blocks to build new muscle.”

The company E. Pyrga of Cyprus sweetens its high-protein ice cream with stevia and is marketing it to athletes, something I have suggested many times. New 20/20 Fitness High Protein Ice Cream contains a minimum of 20 grams of high-quality milk protein per serving, including branched-chain amino acids, which are associated with promoting muscle health.

Goldsteig Kasereien Bayerland GmbH, Germany, is marketing a ball of fresh pasta filata cheese in a single-serve, 100-gram package as a protein cheese for athletes and physically active, body conscious consumers. Packages boldly call out that the Fit Protinella contains 23 grams of protein.

3. And here’s something new to ponder in the area of snack innovation. All this time we’ve been thinking about the snacking trend as having to do with staying satiated and engaging in mindful eating between meals. After attending Anuga 2019, I am convinced snacking is more of providing tactile and sensory satisfaction. Snacking tends to be very interactive. It’s often finger food, no utensils required. There’s something very satisfying about touching food and bringing it to your mouth. While it’s almost caveman like, it very gratifying. That’s why we can expect to see snack foods evolve. Think balls, nuggets and sticks. Miniatures of full-size favorites will be trending. This is across all food and beverage, including plant-based innovations.

4. When it comes to plant-based, think small. Think snack. Think fitness. That’s the only way you are going to stand out in this very packed space. Anuga 2019 was busting out with plant-based burgers. There’s too many. What was very refreshing to observe was the hefty number of companies marketing blended burgers, meatballs and sausages. Not only do these products appeal to consumers trying to reduce their meat intake, but they also allow for more flavor innovation, as they are not limited to being vegan. 

It makes sense for dairy processors to compete in the plant-based space but it has to be with something different. Blends make sense here, too.

Here’s something to think about. It’s the concept of Design Thinking. Design thinking is best described as an innovation journey that puts the needs and wants of consumers at the center of all creative and organizational efforts. It solves a problem, one that may not be defined or one that that no one even knew existed.

That’s the beauty of blended meats and blended dairy products. It’s a sector that’s ripe for innovation.

To read more about Design Thinking, link HERE to an article I recently wrote on the topic for Food Business News.

5. That brings me to my fifth takeaway form Anuga 2019.
The future of food is consumer-centric products. It’s foods and beverages that suggest new moments of consumption, that provide new levels of sophistication. They are lifestyle formulations. It’s all about products the consumer never realized was missing from their life but now is so happy to have in it.

That’s what the nine finalists competing in the California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) Real California Milk Accelerator dairy startup competition are doing. They are attempting to bring milk back into consumers’ lives in formats they never imagined.

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 innovators will receive up to $25,000 of support each to develop proto-cepts while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging and distribution experts, including a business development trip this week (October 14, 2019) to tour California dairy farms and production facilities and meet with industry leaders to help facilitate their new ventures. The final competition will take place live on November 7, in the San Francisco Bay Area, culminating in a grand prize winner who will receive up to $250,000 worth of additional support to deliver their new product to market. (I’m a judge and looking forward to seeing all the innovation.)

Finalists include:
  • Bears Nutrition Daily Nutritional Milk Beverage for Active Kids
  • WheyUp Protein Dairy Beverage with 12 Live and Active Probiotic Cultures and Whey Protein
  • Good Citizens Ready to Drink Latte with Collagen
  • Thai Star Brewing Co. Thai Star Iced Tea
  • Nutraberry Upcycled High Fiber Polyphenol Milk Protein Beverage
  • NAICHA Milk Tea with Probiotics and Vitamins
  • ALLPUR FIZZA Sparkling Dairy Nutrient Refresher
  • Cheese Yogurt Fermented Dairy Beverage
  • Stuyt Dairy Dairy-Based Dessert Beverage

“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,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB.

VentureFuel Inc., a leading innovation consultancy, is working 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.

“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. “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.”

For more information, link HERE.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Dairy Foods Innovation: A Sneak Peek to the Flavors and Colors of Foods and Beverages to be Trending in 2020

Photo source: My two-year-old great nephew enjoying whole milk. His beverage of choice!

Vegan leather. I just have to share this new phrase I learned yesterday from a friend’s daughter raving about the material her new water-proof boots are made from. In case you were curious, vegan leather is the new term for plastic! Yes, plastic. Moving on…

It’s been a great week for milk and meat.

In case you missed the big news about milk: Cow’s milk and water have been singled out as the best beverages for youngsters. That’s right. Leading medical and nutrition organizations issued healthy beverage recommendations on Sept. 18, 2019, for children from birth through five years old. The panel included health experts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. They came to consensual agreement that children under one year should be fed breast milk/infant formula and water, and after, up to five years old, should consume only cow’s milk and water. They cautioned against an array of beverages, in particular those with added sugars and caffeine, as well as plant-based/non-dairy milks that provide no unique nutritional value.


“The experts conclude that cow’s milk—whole, low fat and skim milk—offers a host of essential nutrients that young kids need to be healthy, while recommending parents strictly limit or eliminate all other beverages,” says Cary Frye, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, International Dairy Foods Association, Washington, D.C. “Dairy milk is a super food for kids, providing many of the essential nutrients that only milk can provide, including protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. In fact, research shows milk is the number-one source of protein in the diets of children ages 2 to 11.”

This presents a great deal of opportunity for creative packaging of single-serve portions of white milk. It’s time to get busy!

You can read the full report and recommendations HERE.

Also this week, there was the full-page ad in the USA Today on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, another day for the history books.

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF)—honestly, I never heard of them, but I like their spunk--ran the ad to expose the highly processed nature of fake, “plant-based” bacon. According to the group, roughly one-third of consumers believe “plant-based” is equivalent to “minimally processed.” The ingredient list of “plant-based” bacon, which may include tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and disodium inosinate, reveals this is far from true.

This ad is the latest in an educational campaign to demystify the “plant-based” craze. Don’t get me wrong…there’s a place for more plants in our daily diet. It’s important that consumers understand the varying degrees of plant based.

Remember: Plants taste better with cheese! (Please, one or more of my cheese readers, make this go viral in consumer media!)

“Consumers should be aware that ‘plant-based’ is a euphemism for ‘ultra-processed,’” says CCF Managing Director Will Coggin. “Fake meat doesn’t grow on vines—it’s made in factories.”

Now onto those flavor and color trends that are starting to lay the foundation for what we can expect in 2020. It’s time to start thinking about how the dairy industry can capitalize on these trends.

First, you may ask: why color? That’s because we eat with our eyes. And the colors we can expect in new product development this coming year are going to be in the brown, earthy, green and neutral range. This will not be the year of vibrant blues, purples and reds. Nor will it be bright with yellows and oranges.

Again, it’s not that these colors won’t be part of food and beverage innovation. It’s simply that they are not trending. Berries will always go with dairy!

So what flavors go with these colors?

1. The flavors of Stroopwafels. This includes brown sugar, honey, maple, molasses and of course, caramelized waffle cookie.

2. Warming spices, such as those associated with ayurvedic cooking. This includes black peppercorns, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, mace and nutmeg.

3. Ginger, and its aromatic, pungent and spicy zest. It’s being embraced as part of the gut health movement.

4. Peaches. This has been a lost fruit for so long and The California Cling Peaches association is determined to change that. I had my doubts, but when I saw cottage cheese and cling peach parfaits at the Denver United Club this week, and people were scarfing them down, I had a change of opinion. There’s a lot of peach showing up in foods and beverages, and it pairs real well with oats and brown sugar. Think crumbles and crisps.

5. Coconut. It’s gone beyond beverage and as a milk substitute. It’s a very trending ingredient in many foods. Mostly in its whole form, e.g., shavings and shreds, but also as an oil, for its concentrated levels of medium chain triglycerides, which are known for their fat-burning properties.

6. Bananas. Their yellow-brown hue along with potassium content makes them ripe for new product innovation.

7. Peanut Butter. Crunchy or creamy, peanut butter has always been a popular flavor, but usually paired with chocolate. Now it’s coming out on its own or with other brown foods, namely banana, coconut and yes, peaches.

8. Moringa and matcha. Visually they both are green, but their flavor and nutritional values vary. But, they go very well together. Moringa is a tree native to the sub-Himalayan region. Its leaves may be ground up and used as a functional ingredient, delivering an array of antioxidants and bioactive compounds. It has a subtle, sweet taste, which is very different from matcha’s earthy, slightly bitter flavor. Matcha is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, and is also loaded with health and wellness compounds.

9. Mushrooms. This fungi is showing up everywhere. There’s a recipe circulating in social media for a mushroom matcha smoothie that also includes coconut, banana, peanut butter and cinnamon.

10. Cheese. From being whipped into a foam on coffee to being blended into fresh and frozen desserts, cheese continues to gain strength as a flavor in unexpected food items.

11. Sea Salt. It no longer needs caramel as its companion to flavor foods. Sea salt, even more so, Himalayan pink sea salt, has become a flavor all on its own.

12. Watermelon. With their pink hue, both the sea salt and watermelon are the outliers in the trending color spectrum. Watermelon is being embraced for its natural electrolytes and hydration properties. 

In addition to these dozen flavor trends, here’s some insight regarding trending functional ingredients from the recently released 2019 Food for Function report from Tel Aviv-based Tastewise, a food trends prediction and intelligence start-up.

The company’s artificial intelligence platform analyzes billions of data points, including two billion monthly social media interactions, 180,000 restaurant menus updated weekly and over 2.2 million recipes. The company’s analysis shows celery juice, cannabidiol (CBD) and pea protein to be some of the hottest ingredients right now. (They are all green!)

Tastewise found 1,730 restaurants that offer celery juice on their menus, which was up 9.5% since last year. Fans of celery juice claim using it brings many benefits, including reducing water weight, easing arthritis, lowering blood pressure and general cleansing, according to Tastewise.

The popularity of CBD should be no surprise, especially as it becomes more readily, and legally available around the world. Remember, despite the activity in the marketplace, remember that FDA currently does not allow CBD to be sold in conventional and dietary supplement foods and beverages.

Mentions of pea protein and wellness increased 542%, according to the report. Tastewise found 252 restaurants that mention pea protein on their menus, up 20% since last year.

For weight loss, more consumers are turning to provolone cheese, with mentions up 109%, and maple syrup, with mentions up 88%. Maple syrup has expanded beyond its association with breakfast food and now is viewed as a natural sweetener that may replace processed sugars, according to Tastewise.

The report showed a connection between weight loss and coconut water as well, with mentions up 64%. Tastewise found 2,534 restaurants that offer coconut water on their menus, up 14% since last year.

The report found 37% of consumers are using food as a functional tool to reach their goals, which include antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, weight loss, energy boost and gut health. Tastewise projects the global functional foods market to surpass $275 billion by 2025.

Hope this provides fodder for your innovation ideation.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dairy Foods Innovation: The Power of the Package

We shop with our eyes.

You might have the most amazing dairy food innovation, but if the package does not attract, it likely will not be purchased. Looks matter.

It’s surprising how so many innovators think so little of the package. Today’s innovators have these great new product concepts. These are products they are passionate about and consume their life. (Think Shark Tank.) Then they package it in a low-quality, generic container with non-descript graphics.   

You must make package selection and brand design a priority. And when possible, make the package work for the product. Make package development part of your first day of innovation and revisit the package often.

Don’t forget, the Nutrition Facts label needs to be updated. For manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales, the compliance date is Jan. 1, 2020. Smaller manufacturers have until Jan. 1, 2021.
Attending Pack Expo? Visit Double H at Booth LS-6631.

Graeter’s Ice Cream, a family-owned craft ice cream maker since 1870, understands the power of the package. The company is very good about keeping its appearance fresh and relevant to shoppers. So to commemorate its upcoming 150th year milestone celebration in 2020, the company is unveiling a new pint design that reflects the decadent indulgence of the brand. (The last package makeover was about six years ago.) The company knows its product is great and there’s no need to change its small batch, artisanal French Pot production method or flavor combinations. But the package, yes. A new look almost always turns heads.

“Our new packaging reflects how we’ve grown as a brand over the last 150 years,” explains Richard Graeter, 4th generation owner and president and CEO. “We’ve enlarged ingredient images, showcasing the flavor profile and indulgence without being busy or overly designed. We’re proud of where we landed on the new pint design, and we hope ice cream lovers everywhere will continue to find our truly handcrafted flavors in stores across the country.”

The new Graeter’s pints feature a darker color palate, straying away from the traditional white packaging that frequents ice cream freezer doors. The darker color scheme conveys the indulgence of the Graeter’s flavor profiles, especially the brand’s famous dark chocolate chips, intentionally maximizing space usage and composition. The simple, clean and traditional look reflects its lavish flavors.

Straus Family Creamery has an anniversary, too. To celebrate, the company also gave its packaging a makeover. A pioneer in sustainable organic dairy farming practices, this 25-year-old family-owned company has redesigned its packaging with updated messaging to more clearly communicate its mission, brand benefits and offer greater consistency across categories.

Gelato Fiasco also has a new look. The company is transitioning from plastic to paper pint containers with an all-new brand design. This is the first major branding change for Gelato Fiasco since 2013.

“I had been trying to reduce plastic usage in my own life,” says Joshua Davis, co-founder and CEO. “While personal practice is a great start, it became increasingly uncomfortable and untenable to ignore an obvious contradiction: If I am trying to reduce my plastic consumption as a single consumer, why not get real and cut out literally millions of plastic pint containers that I have some control over?”

With the material change, the company decided it was time for a totally new look. The mission: create imagery that is beautiful and sophisticated, but also modern and effervescent, with distinct rooting in Gelato Fiasco’s Maine heritage.

The rich and vibrant waves of color on each package are specific to each flavor. The back of the container shares a short quip about the flavor and highlights Gelato Fiasco’s scoop shop origin story, underscoring that the brand is still led by its founders. Social media call-outs vary for each flavor and invite fans to connect with the company.

“Our brand has a deep heritage. Bruno and I started Gelato Fiasco as a gelato shop in Brunswick, Maine, after we graduated from college, and today you can find Gelato Fiasco pints in more than 5,000 grocery freezers across the country, competing against massive brands from some of the world’s largest multinationals,” says Davis. “We remain founder-led, quality-focused, and really independent, and we’ve tried to convey that through every choice we made with our new brand design.”

Davis noted that the change is not without some risk to existing brand equity for consumers who are used to recognizing the old package.

“At the end of the day, we think that customers buy Gelato Fiasco for our interesting flavors, most of which contain loads of unique combinations of chunks and swirls and all of which are made with our high-quality bases,” says Davis. “Those flavor names are presented loud-and-clear on our beautiful new package, and we think fans will be able to easily spot and recognize them when they are scanning the freezer for Gelato Fiasco.”

Dairy-free flavors contain special plant-based indicators on all sides of the container. The new design also includes the new Nutrition Facts panel.

Pierre’s Ice Cream now offers snack cups with vibrant graphics to tempt the taste buds. The 5-ounce cups are sold individually so everyone in the family can pick out and enjoy his or her favorite flavor. The lineup includes five of the company’s top-selling flavors--Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Coconut Pineapple, Sea Salt Caramel, Toffee Crunch and Vanilla—as well as brand-new trending Green Tea.

I*SKREAM bars has undergone a brand reinvention. Low in calories and fat with no-added sugars, the new bright, colorful cartons reflect the desire by consumers to find a better-for-you ice cream, according to the company. The fresh look conveys the company’s goal that no one should take a bite of mediocre ice cream. With only 3 to 4 grams of natural sugar and a creamy chocolate coating nothing, each of the seven stevia-sweetened flavors has a unique “buddy” on the box to illustrate and connect with the diverse market for low-sugar treats, from Millennials to Baby Boomers.

If you are attending Pack Expo, which starts in a few days in Las Vegas, walk the show floor and get inspired. Maybe it’s time to give your brand a makeover.

Attending Pack Expo? Visit Double H at Booth LS-6631.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dairy Foods Messaging: Emphasize the Simple, the Delicious and the Quality Protein

It was a busy week of conferences and expositions. Bakers were in Vegas while natural products people headed to Baltimore. A select group gathered in Chicago for Hartman Group’s Food Culture Forecast 2019. There were many dairy processors and dairy ingredient suppliers in attendance. Great to visit with you in my hometown!

While plant-based innovation dominated the conversation at all events, it was the consumer element discussed at the Hartman Group conference that I cannot shake off.

Sarah Marion, director of syndicated research, explored the historical role of plants in the human diet—bread is one of the original plant-based foods—and the many definitions of plant based. Did you know that back in the day, women who made too much use of plants in the diet were deemed witches? Men who preferred plants to meat were considered weak, inferior?

While plant-based processed foods are not going away any time soon—think lentil pasta, pea protein smoothies and veggie burgers—Sarah did emphasize that today’s consumers are smart. They are asking questions and reading labels. She fears that the term “plant based” is quickly being diluted much like “natural” and even at times, “organic.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. An organic sweet potato fried in extra virgin olive oil blessed by the pope and seasoned with sea salt from the Mediterranean is still a high-fat, high-sodium junk food with very little redeeming nutritional value. It’s unnecessary calories in the diet. It’s also a plant-based food.

Attendees explored many varied types of plant-based innovations in the marketplace with Sara and Iva Naffziger, director-marketing research and strategic insights at Hartman Group, and discussed the limits of the positive halo of plants in products and what happens—or will happen as consumer awareness is raised—when overly processed, taste and price come into play. There was also a sampling of alternative animal proteins, namely crickets.

I brought up the topic of protein quality and essential amino acids, something currently largely ignored—or maybe the better term is avoided by marketers of these products—in the plant-based protein conversation. I also brought up that per capita consumption of “all dairy” and “all meat” continues to increase in the U.S., which the speakers confirmed. They explained that in many instances, plant-based foods are simply add-ons to the diet. Dairy and meat are not going away.

Food for thought: might we be entering another Snackwells crisis of the fat-free craze of the late 80s/early 90s? This is when the term fat-free provided permission to indulge, when consumers had a guilt-free conscience after finishing off a box of Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cookie Cakes simply because they contained no fat. Just because it’s plant based does mean it’s a smart nutritional or caloric choice.

Photo source: McCormick

Shelley Balanko, senior vice president-business development at Hartman Group, summed up key take-away messages from the day. The number-one was that consumers continue to idealize fresh, less processed foods.

With that said, we are curious creatures. Today’s consumers like to play around with their diets. It’s important that food and beverage marketers satisfy their inquisitive tendencies, but…chicken and salmon were served at the lunch. Impossible Burger was cost prohibitive to include on the menu. The reception buffet included mini hot dogs with all the Chicago-style trimmings. That means no ketchup, but yes to celery salt and bright green relish. There were also mini deep-dish pizzas with lots of great real cheese, as well as a charcuterie and cheese tray. And I shared a giggle with a few over the question: how do you best enjoy your Impossible Burger? It’s with a slice of cheese and a strip of bacon.

Dairy foods messaging must emphasize the simple, the delicious and the quality protein.

Data from the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that U.S. dairy consumption continues to grow. (See graph.)  This is something that often goes unreported or is misreported. The fact is that dairy consumption, inclusive of milk, is growing in the U.S.

Cheese is a major contributor to this growth. Bacon is likely what keeps many consumers from going vegetarian. Cheese is what keeps vegetarians from being vegan. It’s just too darn delicious, nutritious, simple, affordable and convenient.

Earlier this year, Hartman Group provided some customized research for Dairy Management Inc., on cheese and snacking. The report explained that while cheese holds a prominent place in quintessential American diets, the variety, processing and flavor of cheese available to consumers has dramatically expanded over the past 10 to 15 years. Americans have become sophisticated cheese consumers, and now look for a wide range of quality cues in cheese. However, there is a cultural attachment to classic “American cheese” and it remains a significant factor in how consumers balance taste, price and other priorities.

Source: Hartman Group/Dairy Management Inc.

The report suggests a number of avenues by which cheese products can continue and strengthen their relevance to consumers. This includes through products, packaging and messaging (Think high-quality protein!) that respond to today’s consumer drivers for cheese consumption and are in-tune with modern food trends.

This includes being fresh, less processed. Consumers are looking more often for cheeses made with real, simple ingredients and those made without negatives such as growth hormones, antibiotics, fillers, added sugars and artificial ingredients. Dairy attributes indicative of higher quality include heritage cow breeds or cheeses from other types of animals, raw, aged, artisan craftsmanship, and local or regionally specific cheeses.

Combining cheese with other nutrient-dense foods in snack packs provides variety. Snackable slices and cubes offers convenience and even portability. 

The fact is cheese is an inherently nutrient-dense product. Cheese can provide consumers with the healthy fats, protein and additional nutrients they desire. Remember, cheese it’s what makes plants taste better!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Pumpkin-flavored Dairy Foods Simply Make Sense

Photo source: Starbucks Corp.

Pumpkin everything is back.

Pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages are bountiful in the U.S. It’s impossible to ignore them. Retailers turn them into special displays throughout the store, with refrigerated and frozen end caps and coffin cases putting pumpkin in the spotlight. Dairy-based products are a dominating segment. From shelf-stable lattes and puddings, to refrigerated milks, yogurts and cheese (yes, cheese!), to frozen ice cream, pumpkin and dairy simply makes sense.

After all, what goes best with pumpkin pie? Fresh whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream and a tall glass of cold milk. No wonder Americans love pumpkin-flavored dairy foods.

And, what flavors go best with pumpkin and dairy? The top-five flavors, in no particular order, are bourbon, cinnamon, graham, maple and rum. Nutmeg and ginger are close runner-ups.

Check out new Pumpkin Spice Gouda from Beemster. It features the signature buttery, nutty flavor of Gouda packed full with the aromatic flavors of fall: clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is best served at room temperature but is also awesome warm, melted and gooey in recipes, according to the company. Try it griddled with ham or turkey, alongside raisin-nut bread or with a dollop of cranberry sauce or chutney. Think butternut squash mac and cheese.

New Belle Chevre Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese is handcrafted with all-natural pumpkin purée. The company blends the fresh tang of its cream cheese with pumpkin and warm, aromatic spices.

“It’s that time of year when change is in the air and consumers are looking for something new to spice up their food choices, literally,” says Tasia Malakasis, Belle Chevre CEO. “Pumpkin Spice has become so associated with the fall, and combines so well with dairy products, it was only natural for us to create our own adaptation.”

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts is bringing its longtime seasonal-favorite pumpkin mochi flavor back to stores this month. The ultimate mindful indulgence of sweetened rice dough carefully wrapped around premium ice cream, bite-sized Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream contains 100 calories or less per serving, which is nearly two-thirds fewer calories than a traditional slice of pumpkin pie.

“We create truly authentic flavor experiences that bring to life the aspects of pumpkin pie that people love, down to the perfectly-spiced ice cream filling,” says Rick Schaffer, CEO of Bubbies Ice Cream. “This is one of those seasonal snacks that was made to be offered in pumpkin flavor.”

Baskin-Robbins is introducing a sweet spin on a classic with its newest flavor-of-the-month ice cream: Pumpkin Cheesecake. This seasonally inspired treat features pumpkin and cheesecake flavored ice creams with ginger snap cookie pieces and a cinnamon cream cheese flavored ribbon.
Photo source: Baskin-Robbins

Starbucks is adding a new fall flavor to its café menu--Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew—which joins Pumpkin Spice Latte. Both are made with real pumpkin and choice of whitener, but of course, dairy milk makes the most sense!

Since Pumpkin Spice Latte first made its debut in 2003, more than 424 million have been served in the U.S. Following in the footsteps of this iconic fall beverage, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is the first new pumpkin coffee beverage to join the Starbucks menu in 16 years and a testament to Starbucks customers’ love of cold coffee (50% of beverage orders are cold beverages, up from 37% in 2013). After trying 10 variations of the beverage, the Starbucks R&D team settled on a recipe that starts with Starbucks Cold Brew and vanilla, topped with pumpkin (dairy) cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.

Pilot Flying J, the largest network of travel centers in North America, is debuting a new pumpkin drink this year: Pumpkin Maple Cappuccino. It’s clean and simple. The five-ingredient, all-natural flavored latte is brewed longer resulting in a sweeter, rich taste that doesn’t come with bitterness. The travel center’s popular pumpkin pie creamer has also returned to stores.

Dairy Consumption Continues to Grow in U.S. 
It’s these types of innovations that keep dairy relevant to today’s consumers and contribute to the continued growth of dairy consumption. Data from the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that U.S. dairy consumption continues to grow. (See graph.)  This is something that often goes unreported or is misreported. The fact is that dairy consumption, inclusive of milk, is growing in the U.S.

Survey Says: 86% of US Adults Prefer Dairy Milk and Large Margin Want Increased Milk Offerings in Schools

A new Morning Consult national tracking poll of 2,200 Americans points to a number of revealing consumer preferences for milk and related beverages. When given the option to choose among whole, reduced fat 2%, low fat 1%, skim, other (almond, soy, oat, other plant-based, lactose-free) or “do not consume” milk, respondents overwhelmingly chose 2% and whole milks because they believe they are most nutritious for themselves and their families. Further, 86% of U.S. adults prefer dairy milk over “other” beverages, including plant-based beverages. Additionally, by a margin of more than 2-1, U.S. adults say it’s important to offer low-fat flavored milks with school meals; and by a 3-1 margin, U.S. adults say it’s important to offer 2% and whole milk with school meals. The poll was conducted by Morning Consult in partnership with the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

Here are eight key findings:

  • A whopping 67% of adults across key demographics believe 2% and whole milk are the most nutritious types of milk. Thirty-six percent of adults believe 2% milk is the most nutritious, while 31% believe whole milk is the most nutritious.
  • At least 86% of adults prefer dairy milk compared to 10% who prefer “other” including plant-based beverages and lactose-free milk.
  • Strong opinions about offering flavored milk in schools vastly outweigh strong opinions against. Half of the adults believe it is important that the public school their child attends offers low-fat flavored milk with school meals, while just 22% believe it is unimportant. Twenty-nine percent have no opinion.

  • Adults feel similarly about fuller-fat milk with school meal. By a 3-1 margin, U.S. adults say it’s important to offer 2% and whole milk with school meals: 53% believe it is important that milks like 2% and whole are offered in schools, while just 18% feel it is unimportant. Currently, only low fat 1% and skim milks are allowed in schools.
  • Overall, more women than men believe it is more important that their children have access to fuller-fat and flavored milks in school.
  • Forty-two percent of SNAP participants prefer whole milk for themselves or their families. SNAP participants also report that they believe whole milk is the most nutritious (46%), the only demographic to do so. Of the 2,200 respondents, 336 self-identified as SNAP participants.

  • Respondents with incomes under $50,000 (inclusive of 336 SNAP and 115 WIC participants, respectively, who self-identified) believe more strongly than those with higher incomes (above $50,000) that fuller-fat milks are most nutritious and prefer offering these options as well as low-fat flavored milks in schools for their children.
  • Variety is key: More than three-quarters (77%) of adults found it important to have a variety of options to choose from when purchasing types of milk.
“As the U.S. school year gets underway and millions of American families get back to the routine of juggling the work-school-life balance, maintaining proper nutrition for themselves and their families is top of mind,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “Therefore, it is important that policymakers and regulators who influence what we eat stay grounded in the reality of what American families prefer and value. Clearly some policy decisions and discussions—especially those regarding school meals and nutrition programs—are completely out of step with consumer preference and habits, as well as sound dietary guidance. Families recognize that milk provides numerous health benefits, including better bone health, helps to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and is the leading food source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium in the diet of American children.”

Can whole milk-based dairy foods be part of healthy eating patterns? Link HERE to read more from The National Dairy Council.

Dairy Farmers of America’s 2020 Accelerator Program.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative owned by family farmers across the U.S., is beginning to recruit startups for its 2020 accelerator program, which helps mentor and grow companies in the areas of agriculture technology and dairy food products. For the 2020 program, DFA is seeking early-stage food product companies that are dairy-focused or dairy-based.

“For the food vertical, we’re looking to find companies that are doing new and interesting things with dairy as the main component,” says Doug Dresslaer, director of innovation at DFA. “With ag tech, our goal is to identify companies with applications or technologies that can help us improve processes or reduce margins to ultimately enhance productivity on our members’ farms.”

This is a 90-day immersive program, with a combination of on-site meetings and virtual programs to provide training, growth opportunities and mentorship. Most startup participants typically spend about four weeks in Kansas City, where DFA is headquartered. Throughout the program, startups have numerous opportunities to meet with a variety of DFA executives and other relevant investors and industry leaders. Participants also receive guidance and advice on business development, product development, marketing and other key aspects of startup growth.

Dresslaer adds, “Ultimately, we’re looking for companies where we see long-term potential, as the end goal is to hopefully help and partner with them in some way.”

For more information, link HERE.

Need Ice Cream Innovation Ideas?

The annual Frozen Dessert Center Conference is designed as a means of disseminating current, fundamental science and principles that dictate the successful manufacture of frozen desserts. Held annually at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and stewarded by the Frozen Dessert Center, attendees should expect to learn of complex phenomena of frozen desserts based on physical, chemical, engineering and biological principles. For more information, link HERE.  an&Simple

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dairy Foods Rule: A Simple Explanation on Why Cows—their meat and milk—Are Paramount for Feeding the Future.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council sponsored the U.S. Dairy Health & Fitness Innovation Seminar in Singapore on Sept. 27, 2019. Nearly 100 Southeast Asian innovators attended to hear a number of us speak on U.S. dairy protein innovation opportunities.

Eric Bastian, vice president of industry relations for Dairy West, Twin Falls, Idaho, presented the easiest-to-understand explanation regarding why ruminant animals, such as cows, are so important in the food chain. Here it is:
  • Two-thirds of global agriculture land is not suitable for growing crops that humans can digest for energy and nutrition. But these lands are suitable for growing grasses and similar plants that ruminant animals consume. 
  • These plants are basically sources of cellulose. In fact, half of all organic carbon on earth is tied up in cellulose. Humans are not able to use this carbon for energy. Ruminants can, and they do so very efficiently. 
  • Ruminants, namely cows, goats and sheep, digest cellulose and convert it into foods that humans can eat. They make all of that organic carbon that cannot be digested by humans available to humans in the form of high-quality protein, essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid, and an array of other nutrients. Milk, for example, provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, B2, B3 and B12. 
  • Think about a stalk of corn, which provides two to three cobs. Humans can only digest the kernels, and for that matter, not even all of the kernel. The fibrous outer shells of corn kernels pass through the gastrointestinal system undigested due to lack of the necessary digestive enzyme. The rest of that corn plant is useless to humans for energy; however, it’s a meal for ruminant animals such as cows. Cows effectively convert the nutrients in that stalk, husk and cob to meat and milk for human consumption. 
  • This is why we need ruminant animals to feed the projected 9.7 billion humans who will inhabit earth in 2050.
  •  Humans are omnivores. We are animals that have the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Animal nutrients are powerful. The bear, also an omnivore, gets it. When they are foraging the forest and dining on berries and leaves and see a salmon swimming nearby, they ditch the plants and go for the animal nutrition. Bears are smart. They understand the power of high-quality animal protein.  

The Strong Inside
The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) and the members of the Dairy Protein Messaging Initiative (DPMI) have officially launched a new website designed to communicate the benefits and positive attributes of proteins from milk, with a focus on protein ingredients:

I first reported on this initiative in May 2019. For more insight, link HERE.

Link HERE for an article on “Dairy vs. Plant Protein” in Food Business News, which includes insight on the initiative. 

The new website is an informative hub for The Strong Inside message with fact-based information to better assist consumers with making smart protein choices.

It communicates the nutritional benefits of proteins from milk compared to other protein sources, seeks to refute myths and misconceptions, and fills the void with science-supported information about proteins from milk.

Want to learn more about dairy proteins and dairy ingredients? Plan to attend ADPI’s Dairy Ingredients Seminar next month. I will be presenting on innovation trends. For more information, link HERE.