Friday, March 29, 2019

The Scoop on Ice Cream, Milk, Dairy-Based Beverages, Yogurt and Cultured Dairy Foods

Photo source: Dairy Management Inc.

It was wonderful to see so many Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers at ProFood Tech this week in Chicago and a big welcome to the more than 100 new subscribers who I had the pleasure to meet at the expo. I hope you will enjoy being part of this dairy innovation community.

To view any of the Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE! presentations from ProFood Tech, please click on the title.

Trends in Frozen Desserts
Trends in Yogurt and Cultured Dairy Products
Trends in Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages

Here are five key takeaways from these presentations.

1. Seasonal/Limited Edition. Limited-time-offerings keep consumers interested in the category and your brand. Knowing that a flavor may not be available the next time they shop creates an urgency to purchase. Even if dollars are tight, consumers are often willing to dig deeper into their pockets to make sure they experience the flavor adventure you are selling.

2. Value-Added Nutrition. To differentiate in the crowded refrigerated and frozen dairy cases, it is imperative to offer products with an additional layer or two of nutrition to keep products relevant with today’s health and wellness shoppers. The most common extras include protein, probiotics, prebiotic fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed dairy, and caffeine, as a natural form of energy.

Source: IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

3. Less Sugars. Today’s shoppers are increasingly avoiding sugar in every shape and form. No high fructose corn syrup is basically a must in any better-for-you product if you want it to sport a healthful halo. Also very important are claims of less sugar, or even no sugar, for products designed to have keto diet appeal. And finally, formulating lactose free is proving to be a great strategy to keep shoppers in the dairy department.

4. Farm-to-Fork Story. Whenever you can bring the product back to the farm, do it. Be transparent when you can be traceable. This includes highlighting the source of all ingredients, not just the milk. This is everything from coffee and chocolate to fruits and spices. 

Source: The Hartman Group, as presented on March 28, 2019, at Trends and Innovations, A Sosland Publishing Seminar

5. Keep it Clean, Simple and Relevant. I’ve attended numerous educational conferences this month and the “clean, simple, relevant and TASTES GREAT” message is always emphasized. Dairy owns “tastes great.” If you are not working on the others, it’s time!

Concurrent with ProFood Tech, Sosland Publishing hosted its first Trends and Innovations seminar. When addressing the topic of what’s important to the health and wellness consumer, who, by the way, is a growing portion of the population, speaker Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of The Hartman Group, explained that the question modern wellness consumers ask these days is “What does this food do for me?”

“Progressive consumers are becoming savvy about choosing the right kinds of protein, the right kinds of fat and the right kinds of and amount of carbohydrates,” she said. “It has to taste good and be of good value.”

She went on to explain that while plant-based foods are dominating the conversation these days, “There’s still space for animal products, although specialized and regional,” she said.

She also predicts there soon will be backlash against some plant-based foods when consumers learn about how highly processed they are, along with the resources used in their manufacture.

Dairies would be smart to be prepared for this pending criticism of plant-based foods. Be ready to share your clean, simple, farm-to-fork story.

(Table source: IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association)

So how are retail dairy sales so far in 2019?

Unfortunately, 2019 milk sales remain in a depressed state, according to IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association.

About two-thirds of all channels were down 3% in the first month of 2019, compared to the same time period one year ago. Milk’s rate of decline steepened as 2018 progressed with full year 2018 sales volume down 2.8%.

Source: IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

Growth pockets continue to be lactose-free milk and whole milk, with each posting continuous growth over many years. While still very early in 2019, flavored milk posted a small increase following a flat 2018.

It should be no surprise that milk alternatives remain strong, with almond the dominant force. Oat is likely right in tow. New players continue to emerge, with many dairies joining the movement.

Yogurt sales also continue to decline. The overall start to 2019 is an improvement over yogurt’s weak 2018 retail sales performance (-3.1%), with the most recent four-week period essentially flat compared to the same period a year ago.

Source: IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

Contributions to this improved performance came from a number of areas, namely innovation in product and package. The whole fat segment continued to show strong growth at +10% for the four-week period ended Jan. 27, 2019. Whole fat growth can be tied to key consumer trends operating in the market, including consumers’ ongoing desire for whole, natural foods and a growing recognition among professionals and consumers that dairy fat can make positive contributions to health and wellness. Plain whole milk yogurt, as well as double and triple cream formulas, appeal to the growing number of keto dieters.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ice Cream Concepts to Spark Innovation

“With total sales of $56.7 billion, frozen food is a significant department,” according to Anne-Marie Roerink, president, 210 Analytics LLC, and author of The Power of Frozen Foods 2019, a study published by The American Frozen Food Institute and The Food Marketing Institute. “Ice cream is the second largest category, behind dinners and entrees. Novelties is third. Ice cream is the leader in household penetration, with 87.5% of U.S. homes purchasing some form of ice cream. Novelties come in third with 79.6% household penetration.”

For the 52-weeks ended Nov. 4, 2018, ice cream generated $6.8 billion in retail sales, up 0.2% from the previous year, with unit sales up 1.1%, according to IRI. Novelties experienced $5.2 billion in retail sales. Dollar sales increased 4.2%, while unit sales were up 2.3%. New products that provide flavor adventure and better-for-you and the earth brands are fueling much of this growth.
Visit Double H Plastics Inc., at ProFood Tech, 
March 26-28, 2019, Booth 1031

Let’s explore three formulating concepts gaining traction in the marketplace.

1. Dairy-Free. The IRI retail ice cream and novelty sales include dairy and dairy-free products, with the latter increasingly being offered by traditional dairy brands. Consumers who want to mix up their diet with dairy and plant-based products, or households that may have a dairy-allergy, dairy-intolerance or dairy-avoider member appreciate the dairy brands they have come to love and trust offer dairy-free options. It’s smart business to keep dairy brands in both refrigerated and frozen dairy departments.  

One of the most recent dairy brands to enter the dairy-free space is Coolhaus, which is well known for its premium cookie sandwiches, pints and bars. Like its dairy products, the new plant-based line is thoughtfully crafted with the highest quality ingredients for a superior creamy texture. The dairy-free line is made with a base that differentiates itself from other vegan ice cream brands on the market by introducing unique ingredients, such as organic cocoa butter, pea protein and organic whole grain brown rice.

The dairy-free line continues the brand’s endeavor to adopt more sustainable practices to keep the earth healthy. Earlier this year Coolhaus received a certificate from the Culver City Sustainable Business Program for its “Going Green” initiatives, and now the brand is channeling that same energy into dessert options with environmentally conscious and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Dairy-free pint flavors include: Chocolate Campfire S’Mores, Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Crumb, Cookie Dough Lyfe, Dirty Mint Chip, Mocha Marcona Almond Fudge, Peanut Butter Fudge Chip and Salted Caramel Crunch. The dairy-free cookie sandwich flavors are Cookies and Cream with double chocolate cookies, Cookie Dough Lyfe with chocolate chip cookies, Dirty Mint Chip with double chocolate cookies, Horchata with Snickerdoodle cookies and Tahitian Vanilla Bean with chocolate chip cookies. Each pint is priced at $6.99, while sammies are priced at $5.49. 

“We’re really excited to launch a dairy-free line that’s inclusive of plant-based diets without compromising on decadence,” says Natasha Case, CEO and founder. “Our dairy-free experience will be just as rich and self-indulgent as our dairy line, and we can’t wait for vegan and dairy ice cream-lovers alike to taste it!”

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is going dairy-free, too. A few years ago, Jeni’s set out to make the best dairy-free ice cream in the world. They tried all the trendy ingredients and none lived up to Jeni’s standards of flavor and quality. Taking a step back, Jeni’s realized its premise was all wrong because it’s impossible to ask ingredients that are not milk or cream to act like milk or cream.

They returned to the roots of what it is they do every single day: source the best ingredients they can find and use their expertise to make them shine. This is how Jeni’s came to use pure coconut cream, the most delicate and delicious part of the coconut and the reason the new dairy-free line is so creamy. The dairy-free line is launching in four flavors: Cold Brew with Coconut Cream, Dark Chocolate Truffle, Roasted Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam and Texas Sheet Cake.

“This is dairy-free ice cream that’s not jealous of dairy, made by people who love dairy,” says Jeni Britton Bauer, founder and chief creative officer. “Bringing people together is the core of what Jeni’s is all about, building and inspiring our community. And we’re excited to be able to offer the pleasure of ice cream to our dairy-free, vegan and dairy-loving friends.”

G.S. Gelato is onboard. The company now offers nine vegan-certified frozen desserts. Flavors are: Caramel Sea Salt, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cold Brew, Cookie Dough, Cookies No Cream, Mint Chocolate, Vanilla and White Mint Chocolate.

2. From Farm to Freezer. If there was one big takeaway from Natural Products Expo West 2019 it was that many natural and organic foods consumers appreciate real dairy foods. What many need is permission to enjoy them and that comes from certifications and storytelling.  

Straus Family Creamery, a pioneer in sustainable organic dairy farming practices, is introducing three new ice cream pints intended for ice cream aficionados who care about the origin, quality and taste of their dairy products. The new flavors are: Chai Latte, Maple Cream and Vanilla Fudge Swirl.
The new flavors expand the company’s organic superpremium offerings to 13 pints and six quarts, all of which feature the pure, rich taste of Straus’ premium organic milk and cream from cows on family farm organic pastures. Each bite represents a commitment to farmer-first business practices, environmental leadership, and premium quality and taste of organic dairy. This keeps those who enjoy dairy’s deliciousness purchasing real dairy ice cream.

Straus developed ice cream flavors without artificial ingredients and coloring agents that showcase the distinctive sweet taste and creamy texture of their fresh organic milk and cream. The Chai Latte is a blend of Indian spices, beloved in the traditional seasoned beverage, for a classic global flavor. The Vanilla Fudge Swirl has thick and rich chocolate fudge swirls churned into the award-winning vanilla ice cream. The Maple Cream features golden maple syrup, which complements the sweet cream ice cream, evoking a nostalgic American taste.

“As an organic dairy farmer, I’m focusing on sustainable agriculture and organic family farming to strengthen our rural communities,” says Albert Straus, founder and CEO. “We’ve come a long way in helping sustain local family farms, but there is still more work ahead of us.”

In recognition of its 25th anniversary, the company has redesigned its packaging to more clearly communicate its mission, brand benefits and offer greater consistency across categories. The company is committed to full transparency in its sustainable agriculture and organic family farming efforts, as shown in the accompanying infographic. 

Kemps, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, is introducing Kemps Simply Crafted Ice Cream. Packages explain that the product is void of artificial flavorings and high-fructose corn syrup, and that it is “made with real cream from real farms.”

The company showcases on its website the local family farms who are part of the cooperative. Each of the families is photographed and tells a story.

New Kemps Simply Crafted Ice Cream comes in 16 flavors, including: Brownie Cookie Dough Delight, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies & Cream Dream, Decadent Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Mocha Mudslide, Roasted Butter Pecan, Salty Caramel Swirl, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler, Summer Strawberry, Vanilla Bean and White Chocolate Raspberry.

3. Keto. While higher-protein, lower-fat, lower-calorie ice creams continue to have a prominent spot in many retailers’ freezers, the number of brands playing in this space does seem to be dwindling, as predicted. What is emerging is a new more indulgent category formulated for the keto diet, a lifestyle diet that is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables.

Dairy, especially high-fat dairy, meat and eggs all have prominent roles in the keto diet and thus are growing the presence of animal-based foods in the natural products industry. Many keto foods and beverages include medium chain triglyceride (MCT) fats. These are inherently concentrated in milkfat, in particular grass-fed milkfat, and coconut oil and are well recognized for breaking down fat in the body.

Mammoth Creameries Keto Ice Cream is making its debut in Chocolate Peanut Butter and Vanilla Bean varieties, with Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Lemon joining the lineup soon. The primary ingredients are heavy cream, grass-fed butter, egg yolks and xylitol. A half-cup serving contains 25 to 26 grams fat, 1 to 2 grams total sugar, 5 to 6 grams sugar alcohol and 2 to 3 grams of protein, depending on flavor. The product makes rBST-free, cage-free, grass-fed, no-added-sugar and no-gum claims.

Keto works in ice cream because it’s all about the cream, and that’s what makes ice cream delicious. The next few weeks a number of these concepts will be featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy. You can also hear more about them if you attend ProFood Tech and take the time to hear the frozen desserts installment of the Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE.

Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE
The Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE will be at ProFood Tech, which will be held March 26-28, 2019, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

At this year’s expo, I will make daily 30-minute presentations featuring 10 to 20 of the most innovative products in a specific dairy product category. There are three presentations and each presentation is offered twice at the show. Each presentation includes products not previously featured in the Daily Dose of Dairy newsletter. Sessions will end with a Q&A.

Here’s the schedule:
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Frozen Desserts
  • 3/26/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/27/2019 at 1:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Yogurt and Cultured Dairy Foods
  • 3/27/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/28/2019 at 12:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Fluid Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages
  • 3/26/2019 at 1:30 PM and 3/28/2019 at 10:30 AM 
 Visit Double H Plastics Inc., at ProFood Tech, March 26-28, 2019, Booth 1031

Friday, March 15, 2019

Expo West 2019: Probiotics Are Alive and Thriving; Make Sure Your Dairy Products Deliver

I’m still digesting everything learned at Expo West, and then mix in the education gained at the Research Chef Association’s conference this week, one would think I’d be popping antacids. Seriously. Thankfully probiotics are a regular part of my daily diet.

For obvious reasons, I consume probiotics through dairy foods. But today’s consumers have many varied food and beverage options. It was less than 10 years ago when dairy owned this space. And while it’s likely too late to lead this functional foods segment, it’s never too late to be part of the digestive health movement.  

To read more about the many probiotic innovations on display at Expo West, link HERE to “Gut feelings flourishing in new product development,” an article published by my colleague Monica Watrous at Food Business News.

These products are right on target with what today’s consumers want from their food and beverage options in their pursuit of health and wellness. More than half of consumers are actively dealing with one or more chronic conditions in their households, according to the Hartman Group, which reports that consumers are treating on average 3.3 conditions while preventing on average 5.2 conditions. Foods and beverages are key remedies for a variety of conditions, not just lifestyle conditions like weight and blood pressure. The research firm reports that consumers use food and beverage to treat/prevent an average of 2.7 conditions.

The Hartman Group’s Health + Wellness 2017 report showed 36% of consumers are treating or preventing digestive irregularity, with more than two out of five (43%) doing so through food and beverage choices. This includes probiotics and the prebiotic fibers that fuel these beneficial microorganisms.

On March 4, 2019, the scientific journal Nutrients published a study investigating “Human Gut Microbiome Response Induced by Fermented Dairy Product Intake in Healthy Volunteers.” Results showed that consuming fermented dairy products fortified with probiotic microorganisms can cause rapid positive changes in the gut microbiome. The findings suggest that a single month of fermented dairy product consumption can significantly shift microbial composition and function, which may benefit overall health.

The researchers used microbiome analysis to characterize changes in gut microbiota composition after 30 days of oral intake of a yogurt fortified with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12. Gene sequencing was used to assess the gut microbial composition before and after fermented dairy product consumption in healthy adults (n = 150). Paired comparison of gut microbial content demonstrated an increase in presence of potentially beneficial bacteria, particularly of the Bifidobacterium genus. At a functional level, an increased capacity to metabolize lactose and synthesize amino acids was also observed, accompanied by a lowered potential for synthesis of lipopolysaccharides.

While the extent and details of the possible impact of fermented dairy product consumption on gut microflora varies across individuals, this research may prove to be useful in the growing field of personalized nutrition, helping keep dairy foods in the forefront. The researchers, however, do note that further research is warranted to confirm any potential lasting impact on microbiota.

It’s no wonder that Packaged Facts’ 2019 U.S. Food Outlook identifies several key disruptive trends to watch for this year. One of the top-four is gut health.

“As consumers increasingly focus on digestive issues and increasing gut health, they have gravitated to fermented and probiotic-rich foods and beverages, like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and kimchi,” says David Sprinkle, research director and publisher. He cites cereal as an up-and-coming probiotic category.

Kellogg’s recent HI! Happy Inside cereal, for example, promotes digestive wellness with prebiotics, probiotics and fiber. The cereal contains one billion live probiotics from active strains, 2. 5 grams of prebiotics, and 8 to 9 grams of fiber. Available in three flavors, HI! Happy Inside cereal is a blend of fruit, yogurt pieces and 100% whole grains.

One of the biggest opportunities for probiotics, according to Packaged Facts, is ice cream. Sprinkle says that new products will be “pushing bounds of healthier indulgence, such as functional benefits from healthy fats, antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics.”
And it’s already being done.

Unilever now offers Culture Republick. This new ice cream brand with probiotics is on a mission to support culture both inside and out. The inside support comes from the three billion live active cultures in each pint, along with 16 to 18 grams of protein, 11 to 12 grams of fiber and no artificial sweeteners. Culture Republick is currently available in seven unique flavors in creatively designed containers. That’s where the outside element of culture comes into play. The brand collaborated with emerging artists to design the pints, with 10% of the brand’s profits going to support the arts in local communities.
“Culture Republick was created with a distinct purpose in mind,” says Leslie Miller, marketing director of ice cream at Unilever. “We believe that humanity could use a bit more brightness. By combining our passions for culture and ice cream, we intend to do our part in making people feel more balanced, inspired and connected.”

To read more about the business model for Culture Republick, link HERE to another Food Business News article.

There’s now another probiotic ice cream ready for market. JoeFroyo is rolling out Crema Smart. The new lactose-free line of 14-ounce containers of ice cream contain a nutritional boost of prebiotics, six live and active probiotics, and protein. Eliminating lactose makes this a gut-friendly product for those with lactose sensitivities.

The ice cream features a proprietary natural dairy sweetener called Crema Sweet, which is hydrolyzed lactose. This equates to glucose and galactose, which is sweeter than lactose. This lactose-free milk sugar is said to be easily metabolized without spiking insulin levels, all at one-third the calories of sucrose. The company adds lactase to break down all remaining milk sugar.

“We believe milk is the original clean-label beverage and have taken an intelligent approach to improving dairy in our Crema Smart line of products, allowing people to return to real dairy without the discomfort of lactose,” says Zach Miller, founder.

The ice cream is made with the same gently pasteurized milk that goes into JoeFroyo’s Functional Cold Brew. This refrigerated beverage combines the kick of caffeine from cold brew coffee with probiotics and protein from drinkable yogurt. Featuring 15 grams of natural protein per 12-ounce serving and six live and active probiotic cultures, JoeFroyo adds valuable health benefits from dairy, all while remaining 100% lactose free.

JoeFroyo Functional Cold Brew uses high-pressure processing to extend shelf life. It has no impact on the viability of probiotic cultures.

The company also is rolling outs JoeFroyo Clean Label Creamer. This is the first and only 100% real half-and-half infused with seven probiotic cultures and manufactured using high-pressure processing. The addition of lactase enzyme renders the creamer lactose free.

About a year ago, Kemps, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, introduced Probiotic Milk. The new half-gallon cartons come in fat-free and 2% reduced-fat and contain Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus acidophilus. Carton fronts state: Supports healthy digestion.

The company also offers Live Real Farms Wholesome Smoothie. Made with real yogurt and real fruit, the drinkable cultured dairy beverage is loaded with probiotics and contains no added sugars, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
Springfield Creamery used Expo West to promote its new Organic 100% Grass-Fed Yogurts sold under the Nancy’s Probiotic brand. These rich, cream-on-top-style yogurts are made with milk from grass-fed cows who enjoy a diet of organic grass and no grains, yielding milk that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids. Nancy’s sources the milk from organic family-owned farms, all within 60 miles of Springfield Creamery. Like all other Nancy’s yogurts, these 100% Grass-Fed Yogurts contain live probiotics, including strains delivered at therapeutic levels to help support immune and digestive health.

Springfield Creamery first added live, beneficial probiotics more than 48 years ago, and the company has led the growing probiotic revolution ever since. These grass-fed yogurts contain 41 billion colony forming units of live probiotics per 6-ounce serving at the time of expiration.

“Cows who eat a fully grass diet, including alfalfa, clover and other forages, produce milk with added nutritional benefits. This is due to the direct relationship between what cows eat and the levels of beneficial fatty acids in their milk. In other words, when cows eat well, so do we,” says Sheryl Kesey Thompson, co-owner and vice president of marketing. “With many choices in the yogurt aisle, we wanted to offer our customers a 100% grass-fed, organic option with the high probiotic counts they have come to expect from Nancy’s products.”

Also making its debut at Expo West was Brainiac Kids. Developed and marketed by Ingenuity Brands, a company dedicated to food-based brain nutrition, this is the first line of kids’ yogurts specifically targeted to help their developing brains. Brainiac Kids yogurts are made with whole milk and enhanced with the company’s proprietary BrainPack, a unique blend of brain-building nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, both DHA and ALA; choline; and three strains of live and active probiotic cultures.

New Stonyfield Organic YoBaby Veggie yogurts are made with whole milk and intended for children between six months and two years old. YoBaby Veggie comes in Purple Carrot and Sweet Potato varieties. A single 4-ounce cup contains 80 calories, 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of total sugar, all of which are inherent to the milk and vegetable, as the yogurt contains no added sweeteners. The yogurts are also loaded with probiotic cultures with digestive health benefits. The brand is also growing its kids’ Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches with Apple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Blueberry Apple Carrot varieties.

Pillars Yogurt is introducing Whole Milk Greek Yogurt Pouches for adults, but kids, of course, are welcome to enjoy them, too. Each of 3.5-ounce recloseable pouches contains 10 grams of protein and a mere 3 grams of sugar—all naturally occurring—along with probiotics and prebiotics. Very soon the company will add product designed specifically for the kids’ market.

Lifeway Foods, the leading U.S. supplier of kefir probiotic dairy products, has partnered with TruFusion Fitness Studios to launch a co-branded probiotic protein smoothie: TruEnergy fueled by Lifeway.

The product was promoted at Expo West, where Lifeway Foods also sponsored the first morning of yoga for expo attendees. While the weather required—for the first time ever—to move early-morning yoga inside, it was still a fabulous experience. Thanks to Julie Smolyansky, Lifeway’s CEO (pictured with me) for this uplifting and energizing annual event.

TruEnergy is an 8-ounce kefir drink that provides the benefits of 21 grams of protein and 12 live and active probiotic cultures. The product is designed as workout recovery refuel beverage.

“It’s an honor to partner with TruFusion to provide their members with a convenient, on-the-go probiotic protein solution that’s formulated to nourish the whole body,” says Smolyansky. “Most protein drinks are only concerned with building muscle. At Lifeway, we know that your gut should be just as strong as your biceps and your quads. We’ve created a fitness drink that serves the whole body, including support for digestion and immunity.”

Make sure you are keeping dairy foods relevant through the inclusion of probiotics.

The Daily Dose of Dairy LIVE will be at ProFood Tech, which will be held March 26-28, 2019, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

At this year’s expo, I will make daily 30-minute presentations featuring 10 to 20 of the most innovative products in a specific dairy product category. There are three presentations and each presentation is offered twice at the show. Each presentation includes products not previously featured in the Daily Dose of Dairy newsletter. Sessions will end with a Q&A.

Here’s the schedule:

Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Frozen Desserts
  • 3/26/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/27/2019 at 1:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Yogurt and Cultured Dairy Foods
  • 3/27/2019 at 10:30 AM and 3/28/2019 at 12:30 PM
Daily Dose of Dairy Live: Trends in Fluid Milk and Dairy-Based Beverages
  • 3/26/2019 at 1:30 PM and 3/28/2019 at 10:30 AM
Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Expo West 2019: The Dairy Foods Connection

It’s been great visiting with so many of you at Natural Products Expo West 2019, where there is an estimated 90,000 attendees exploring innovations from more than 3,500 exhibitors, of which 685 are first-time exhibitors. With two days of walking the exhibit halls behind me, I can safely confirm that dairy is alive and thriving among the natural products community. Over the next couple of weeks many of the new dairy products that debuted at Expo will be showcased as a Daily Dose of Dairy. Stay tuned.

For now I would like to share seven observations and seven trendy products to guide your future new product innovation.

1. CBD and Hemp: It was expected that cannabidiol (CBD) products, specifically CBD derived from hemp, as well as hemp products, would be a leading trend at Expo West 2019. Manufacturers did not disappoint. There must be as least 50 CBD extract/hemp extracts on the exhibit floor and probably just as many foods and beverages containing this plant-derived ingredient.

Why this year? The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the farm bill, removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act on Dec. 20, 2018. The law defines hemp as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivates of cannabis that are less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This definition includes commercial consumer products such as tinctures or extracts of any part of the hemp plant, including the leaf or flowering top, and CBD derived from hemp cultivars. Marijuana cultivars of Cannabis sativa are all those that cannot be categorized as hemp.

The new regulations make hemp ingredients eligible for use in food, as well as dietary supplement, cosmetic and personal care products sold in interstate commerce. The FDA’s current position, however, is that CBD may not be added to foods shipped in interstate commerce.

“It’s unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to introduce foods containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived,” according to Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner of FDA, in a Dec. 20, 2018, issued statement. “This is because both CBD and THC are active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs and were the subject of substantial clinical investigations before they were marketed as foods or dietary supplements. Under the FD&C Act, it’s illegal to introduce drug ingredients like these into the food supply or to market them as dietary supplements.”

The agency on Dec. 20 also said it had “no questions” about the GRAS status of hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts), oil and protein powder for use in foods and beverages. Thus, hemp can be added to dairy foods.

In that same Dec. 20 statement, Dr. Gottlieb promised to set up a public meeting in the “near future” for stakeholders in the hemp industry to address various issues, including possibly making hemp-derived CBD a legal food ingredient. With Dr. Gottlieb having resigned on March 5, there’s uncertainty for the near future of CBD as a food ingredient, making the majority of CBD products at Expo West currently illegal in most states. Manufacturers are relying on local regulations to sell product.

One such product is new Honeydrop Cold-Pressed CBD Lemonades, which contain 20 milligrams of premium U.S grown CBD per serving and are sweetened with raw U.S. honey. The new CBD lemonades contain only 4 grams of sugar per bottle and come in three varieties: REVIVE (matcha), RELAX (lemon) and REHAB (turmeric). By the way, sweetening with honey is trending in the natural foods business.

This beverage is also uniquely manufactured using high-pressure processing (HPP). The company chose HPP because it better retains the benefits of CBD, as compared to traditional heat pasteurization, according to the company.  

To read more about “CBD in CPG: Challenges and Opportunities,” link HERE to a timely article written by my colleague Monica Watrous at Food Business News.

2. Keto. Foods designed for the keto diet were also expected to be prominent. Again, exhibitors did not disappoint. Expect to see many new keto dairy products showcased as a Daily Dose of Dairy in the coming weeks.

The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. Dairy, especially high-fat dairy, meat and eggs all have prominent roles in the keto diet and thus are growing the presence of animal-based foods in the natural products industry, which historically has trended to be more plant based. Think fruits, nuts and granola.

Foods for the paleo diet were also prominent at Expo, which unfortunately does not include almost all dairy. The exception is ghee. The paleo diet is all about meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils. Foods to avoid include anything processed, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.
As mentioned, ghee is the exception. Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It originated in India and is now commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Ghee is made from cow or buffalo milk butter. The butter goes through a heating process that removes the milk solids (dairy proteins and lactose). Hence, while the paleo diet is non-dairy, the absence of milk solids makes it an acceptable paleo food, an increasingly popular lifestyle eating regime.

Ghee is associated with ancient Ayurvedic holistic healing practices, which has now evolved into alternative medicine for health and wellness. Ghee is recognized as having anti-inflammatory and digestion-aiding properties, among other benefits, and has become a staple of some low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets, namely keto and paleo.

Artisan honey manufacturer GloryBee now offers GloryBee Brown Butter Honey Ghee. It combines grass-fed brown butter ghee with Pacific Northwest clover blossom honey.

To read more about ghee and explore recent innovations, link HERE to “Ghee is gold in the butter-is-back trend,” an article I recently wrote for Food Business News.

3. Clean Label. It goes without saying that clean label is a must at Natural Products Expo West. A growing number of foods and beverages are emphasizing the naturalness and the minimal number of ingredients in their products. Often times, dairy ingredients are part of the recipe.

New simple-recipe, gluten-free Smartcake relies on eggs, whey protein isolate and a proprietary fiber blend to deliver a nutrient-rich protein snack cake. Erythritol and monkfruit sweeten this zero carbs snack that contains only 38 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

4. Caffeine Energy. Natural energy is all about caffeine. There’s a number of new coffee latte energy beverages. Watch for them as a future Daily Dose of Dairy.

5. Protein. Protein continues to be the dominant call out on most foods and beverages, but there’s a noticeable difference in how protein is marketed. Most plant products highlight that the protein comes from plants, while animal protein use is not called out. This presents an opportunity to better market the complete protein profile of dairy, eggs and meat.

Perfect Bar introduced Perfect Bites refrigerated protein snack that provides 7 grams of protein and contains 20-plus superfood ingredients. Nonfat dry milk and whole egg powder are the primary protein sources.

A number of new pizza products feature vegetable crusts. There’s cauliflower, spinach and broccoli. Most of them rely on real cheese. Plant meets animal. The two make delicious pizza!

6. Digestive Health. A growing number of dairy products are being formulated to be lactose free, while foods made with dairy and dairy ingredients are also making the effort to be lactose free. It’s all about the digestive health movement and shows no signs of subsiding. This is why A2 milk is gaining traction, and had a prominent presence at Expo West 2019. Probiotics and prebiotics are also mainstream.

7. Animal Welfare. In addition to flagging the lack of lactose, dairy foods and dairy ingredients are increasingly being tracked back to the farm and animal welfare practices. Pasture-raised and grass-fed dairy claims give many natural foods consumers the permission they are looking for to keep dairy in the diet.

Good Citizens offers a range of organic whole grain pasta and grass-fed cheese pasta meals.

Bonafide Keto Broth is chicken broth enhanced with grass-fed butter and MCT oil. The no-sugar frozen 8-ounce cups are designed for easy microwaving, with each cup providing 15 grams of fat and 9 to 10 grams of protein.

OK…now back to the Expo floor. Hope to see you soon!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Limited-Time-Offerings are the Future of Ice Cream

When Tasty--the largest creative cooking social media platform in the world, best known for its signature recipe videos that make cooking fun and accessible--entered the ice cream industry this month with only four limited-edition flavors, it got me thinking about the importance of limited-time offerings (LTO) in the ice cream category. It’s the future. And there’s many approaches to making it best work for your brand.

Tasty’s approach is unique. The brand will roll out four LTOs three times this year. The four flavors are described as “creative twists on classics” and are marketed on the basis of their limited supply for a short time. Shoppers must scoop them up quickly because once they sell out, they’re gone.
Produced by Nestlé Ice Cream, the first flight of LTOs includes Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Crunch (chocolate ice cream with pretzel bites and salted caramel swirl), Peanut Butter S’mores Smash (peanut butter-marshmallow ice cream with peanut butter cups and graham cracker crunchies, mini marshmallows and a gooey fudge swirl), Vanilla Galaxy Twist (vanilla ice cream with blue frosting swirls, caramel-flavored stars and rainbow sprinkles) and White Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cake (white chocolate-flavored ice cream, thick swirls of raspberry and chunks of cake).

The second and third flights of flavors will launch in early summer and early fall 2019. Tasty Ice Cream comes in 14-ounce containers at a suggested retail price of $4.99.

Blue Bell Ice Cream has long been involved with offering LTOs, some of which are returning flavors. The company hypes up the rollout, creating consumer excitement that drives them to purchase.

This time of year Blue Bell is all about Mardi Gras King Cake Ice Cream, which celebrates the Mardi Gras carnival season that ends on Fat Tuesday…for Poles like me, that would be Paczki Day…the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. In years past, this LTO had limited distribution, but this year, for the first time, the flavor is available in all areas that sell Blue Bell products.

“We have been making Mardi Gras King Cake since 2012, but the flavor has mostly been sold in areas known for the celebration, such as Louisiana and Alabama,” says Carl Breed, corporate sales manager for Blue Bell. “Last year a grocery store in Louisiana posted about the flavor’s arrival on its Facebook page and we started receiving requests from all over the country. After that, we decided to share this festive flavor with everyone in our distribution area.”

The Mardi Gras inspired dessert is made with a cinnamon cake-flavored ice cream, pastry pieces and a colorful cream cheese swirl with festive candy sprinkles. Blue Bell enthusiasts may remember that Mardi Gras King Cake is a combination of two previous flavors, Mardi Gras, introduced in 2004, and King Cake, first produced in 2006.

“We still receive requests for Mardi Gras and King Cake because our fans never forget a flavor,” says Breed. “But, you have the best of both worlds with our Mardi Gras King Cake Ice Cream.”

Just like the annual celebration, Mardi Gras King Cake Ice Cream, which comes in half-gallon tubs, is only available for a limited time.

What is it about LTOs? It’s classic supply and demand. Shoppers recognize if they don’t purchase the product when it hits the store shelf, it may not be available the next shopping trip. They are popular because they allow consumers to be adventurous. This suggests that smaller package size may make the most sense for really innovative flavor combinations.

That’s something retailer Publix learned. The company is now marketing its Publix Premium Limited Edition Ice Cream in quart-size containers, “so it’s easier to grab just one more. Which is good, because we want you to have the opportunity to try them all while supplies last,” the company explains.

Varieties that are or have been in the LTO series include Chocolate Malt (chocolate malt ice cream with chocolatey sauce and crunchy chocolate malt pieces), Hula Hula Macadamia (whipped cream ice cream with ribbons of caramel and macadamia brittle, Irish Crème Salted Caramel (Irish crème-flavored ice cream with a rich caramel sea salt swirl and caramel truffles), Lemon Sugar Cookie (lemon sugar cookie ice cream with lemon cookie bits and ribbons of vanilla icing), New Orleans Caramel Praline (brown sugar ice cream with swirls of thick caramel and crunchy praline pecans), Sticky Bun (brown sugar ice cream with a cinnamon streusel swirl, sprinkled with sticky bun dough and praline pecans), Peanut Butter Pie (peanut butter cheesecake-flavored ice cream with peanut butter cookie ribbons and chocolate-flavored pieces) and Toasted S’mores (toasted marshmallow-flavored ice cream with graham cracker ribbons and chocolatey marshmallows).

Wherever purchased, LTOs present consumers with an opportunity to explore food. Seasonal flavors and colors, in particular those associated with a holiday, encourage purchase and often serve as a means to help one get in the spirit. To many, purchasing products that recognize local sports teams or national competitions show a sign of support. Even when food dollars are tight, consumers may dig a little deeper into their pockets to participate.

Retailer Meijer appreciates the LTO opportunity, too. For Spring 2019, the company is rolling out its latest LTOs in 48-ounce containers. The three offerings under its Purple Cow store brand are: Cookie Dough Clash (caramel and chocolate ice cream with cookie dough and brownie bits), Midnight Black Raspberry (black raspberry ice cream with blackberry swirl and chocolate-flavored flakes) and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (strawberry and rhubarb-flavored ice cream with graham cracker ripple).

In the ice cream category, LTOs first really caught on during the winter holidays. The theory was that most consumers viewed ice cream as a warm weather treat. By offering holiday-themed flavors, such as eggnog, peppermint candy cane and pumpkin pie, shoppers would make ice cream part of their holiday celebrations.

Today LTOS are no longer limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas. McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams launched the Winter Collection this year. Made completely from scratch using Central Coast grass-grazed milk and cream, the three seasonal flavors were inspired by sensory-stimulating citrus fruits. Blood Orange features the distinct and intense orange-meets-berry flavors of Moro blood oranges. Vanilla Grapefruit combines grapefruit’s tart sweetness with smooth, sweet, vanilla-scented cream. Winter Pear Crisp blends a delicate purée of D'Anjou pears with a swirl of homemade pear jam and crispy oatmeal crumbles.

For Valentine’s Day 2017, Perry’s Ice Cream introduced Bad Breakup to comfort those unlucky in the relationship department. Following the success of Bad Breakup, the brand brought it back this year and added Berry into You for those who had found love. 

Berry into You is strawberry ice cream with vanilla cream swirls, strawberries and shortcake pieces. Bad Breakup is sea salt caramel chocolate ice cream with milk fudge swirls and fudge-filled hearts. Both come in pints for about $3.59.

“Berry into You is inspired by a dessert favorite, strawberry shortcake, and a complement to our ‘triple chocolate fudge’ Bad Breakup,” says Nichole Buryta, brand manager. “At Perry’s we believe in ice cream that celebrates the moment. Berry into You captures the euphoria of love, everything from that giddy feeling when you can’t stop thinking of someone to the comfort of an enduring romance.”

While holiday and specific sporting event themes are popular for LTOs, some marketers find that LTOs are best planned and scheduled. That’s Turkey Hill’s approach. The company offers two LTOs every quarter.

This year the company is currently offering Box of Chocolates (milk chocolate frozen dairy dessert with a trio of truffles: dark chocolate raspberry, milk chocolate brown butter bourbon caramel and dark chocolate salted caramel) and Red

Velvet Cake (red velvet cake-flavored frozen dairy dessert with red velvet cake bits and crunchy chocolate cake swirl). In April, the LTOs will be Dark Chocolate Caramel Espresso (espresso frozen dairy dessert with dark chocolate caramel truffles and a sea salted caramel swirl) and Deep Dark Chocolate (robust dark chocolate frozen dairy dessert with melt-in-your-mouth chocolaty slivers). The third quarter will see Southern Lemon Pie (tangy lemon frozen dairy dessert swirled with whipped marshmallow and shortbread pieces) and Caramel Brownie Overload (caramel frozen dairy dessert with brownies and waves of rich caramel fudge). The year will end off with two consumer favorites: Pumpkin Pie and Egg Nog.

Marketers must never forget that with date-specific products, for example, Halloween, the day after comes the discounts. That’s because consumers are ready to move on to the next big event. A brand can differentiate and drive incremental sales by creating a new event that occurs outside the typical LTO calendar.

For Nestle Ice Cream’s Edy’s and Dreyer’s brands, that would be the release of the Toy Story 4 movie. While the film’s June premiere is still a few months away, the company is creating excitement in the freezer case with Cinnamon Churro Carnival Combo (cinnamon-flavored ice cream with swirls of cinnamon and chunks of churros) and Chocolate Peanut Butter Midway Mash-Up (chocolate ice cream with cookie pieces that resemble Buzz).
The brands also offer Banana Split Ice Cream. It has all the elements of the perfect banana split, including banana ice cream with fudge and “cherry on top” swirls.

Hudsonville has some exciting new LTOs in the market. Hazelnut Cinnamon Bun is cinnamon bun-flavored ice cream swirled with a ribbon of rich hazelnut fudge and sweet cinnamon bun pieces. Chocolate Raspberry Indulgence is dark chocolate and white chocolate flavored ice cream with a natural raspberry ripple.

Wells Enterprises has some LTOS, too. Blue Bunny Blackberry Crumble Rumble is vanilla-flavored ice cream with blackberry swirls and baked oatmeal cinnamon pieces. Cookie Butter is speculoos cookie-flavored ice cream with cinnamon graham and speculoos caramel swirls and speculoos cookie dough chunks.

LTOs offer consumers the opportunity to try something new, maybe even more indulgent then their norm. The urgency to purchase provides permission to explore.

A company that has done a great job of creating its own special LTO event is Graeter’s Ice Cream. Every year around this time the company rolls out what it calls the annual Mystery Flavor. This year that flavor is Maple Cinnamon Crunch. Like all of Graeter’s ice creams, this LTO is handcrafted using the French Pot process, making 2 ½ gallons at a time.

My sampling cooler arrived on Thursday and, wowza, it’s amazing. It’s a frozen rendition of the perfect French toast breakfast. The sweet maple ice cream—made with real maple syrup—is loaded with crunchy cinnamon-covered shortbread pieces.

Who said you cannot have ice cream for breakfast?