Friday, April 26, 2019

Dairy Case Innovation: It’s Spring! Look what’s growing.

April showers bring May flowers. Then the plants all really start to grow.

P-L-A-N-T, that five letter word that has invaded the dairy space. Love it or hate it, you cannot ignore it. Progressive dairy processors are embracing the opportunity to expand their customer reach with new innovative plant-based concepts. And I might add, many of them are downright delicious.

The fact is consumers are trying to improve their overall health and wellness by heeding the recommendations of nutritional authorities who are encouraging increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. At the same time they are swapping out animal-derived foods for more plant-based alternatives designed to simulate the animal protein.

The plant-based foods industry is seeing tremendous growth at retail. Sales topped $3.3 billion in 2018, reflective of a 20% increase as compared to the previous year, according to data from the Plant Based Foods Association, as provided by Nielsen.

“The plant-based foods industry has gone from being a relatively niche market to fully mainstream,” says Michele Simon, executive director of the association. “Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are not just for vegetarians or vegans anymore; now even mainstream consumers are enjoying these delicious and innovative options in the market today.”

The data shows that “other” plant-based dairy alternatives, which excludes milks, are experiencing explosive growth, up 50%. This segment include plant-based cheeses, creamers, butters, yogurts and ice creams. The plant-based milk category is up 9%, compared to 3% the previous year, while cow’s milk dollar sales are down 6%. Plant-based milk comprises 15% of total milk sales.

Perry’s is on board. Perry’s knows ice cream. Since 1932 the family-owned dairy has been delighting people with rich, creamy, ice cream in hundreds of flavors and varieties. Because a growing portion of the population cannot enjoy ice cream due to lactose intolerance, allergies or other dietary choices, the company decided to get into the plant-based space with new Perry’s Oats Cream. (Love the name!)

What’s key to note with Perry’s first oat-based, dairy-free frozen dessert is that it’s being positioned as another great Perry’s product, not a dairy alternative. The company is not even bothering with the basic vanilla and chocolate. Perry’s Oats Cream features seven decadent flavors: Apple Strudel, Blueberry Pancake, Coconut Caramel, Oat Latte, Peanut Butter Coffee Cake, Peanut Butter & Cookies (pictured) and Snickerdoodle. The vegan lineup is a good source of fiber (a nutrient of concern in the U.S. diet) and made with whole grains.

Dairy-free frozen desserts are predicted to be a $1 billon dollar category by 2024 and according to Business Insider, oat milk is the hot new product in the dairy-free aisle. It is positioned to take over nut-based products as the leading non-dairy milk-type product.

Photo source: Perry's Ice Cream

“As a market leader with extensive dairy expertise, we recognized a growing need to bring to market a great-tasting, plant-based frozen dessert,” says Robert Denning, president and CEO of Perry’s. “Consumers look to their trusted ice cream brands to create quality dairy-free options. We certainly believe our team of talented research and development experts hit it out of the park with a full line of these amazing tasting oat-based, dairy-free products.”

The pint packaging features a natural oat tone inscribed with a brand message stating, “ice cream hasn’t been for everyone…until now. Meet Perry’s Oats Cream.”

Insights from the Perry’s product development team reveal that oat texture is more like ice cream with a milder flavor, allowing for freedom and variety in flavor creation. Suggested retail price is $6.99 per pint. In addition, Apple Strudel and Blueberry Pancake varieties are available in three-gallon containers for scoop shops and foodservice customers.

Enlightened is now in this space, too, with Enlightened Dairy-Free, a line of vegan stick bar novelties that are low in sugar and calories. Based on almonds, the bars are making their debut in five varieties: Mint Chip, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Monkey Business, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Salted Caramel.

On the beverage side, let’s talk Star Wars and Blue Milk and Green Milk. Blue

Milk was first seen in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” when Luke Skywalker sat down for a family meal. Green Milk was introduced in “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.”

While neither were sourced from cows in the movie, this does seem to be a missed opportunity by the dairy industry. Now Disney is on it and is using a plant-based base.

Photo source: Disney Enterprises

Both Blue Milk and Green Milk will be available for purchase at Oga’s Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is scheduled to open May 31st at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Disney describes it as “a local watering hole to unwind, conduct business and maybe even encounter a friend or a foe. Patrons of the cantina come from across the galaxy to sample the famous concoctions created with exotic ingredients using ‘otherworldly’ methods, served in unique vessels, with choices for kids and libations for adults.” This includes colored and flavored plant-based milk.

The Blue Milk and Green Milk will be sold at the Milk Stand and will actually be a frozen-style beverage, somewhere between a milkshake and a smoothie. Blue Milk will have berry and melon flavors, while Green Milk will have tropical and citrus flavors.

Califia Farms, best known for its innovative plant-based beverages in distinctive curvy bottles, continues breaking barriers on “What Plants Can Do” with the launch of Übermilk, a nutritious line of oat milk beverages. Available in three varieties--Unsweetened, Unsweetened Vanilla and Chocolate—Übermilk provides 8 grams of plant-based protein per serving including all eight essential amino acids and fatty acids from plant oils, as well as calcium, iron, vitamin D, potassium and vitamin E.

“Übermilk is a leap into the next frontier,” says Greg Steltenpohl, founder and CEO of Califia Farms. “Nutritionally, Übermilk is one of the more nutrient-dense plant milks on the broader market with a powerful combination of both macro and micro nutrients, and most importantly it wins on taste and texture, thanks to our naturally creamy and great-tasting Oatmilk serving as the base.”

Leveraging Califia Farms’ new oat-based milk made from whole grain, gluten-free oats, the Übermilks combine 8 grams of complementary plant proteins from pea, oats and sunflower seeds. They are also rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids from flax and sunflower oil.

“Made from a blend of seeds and pulses, Übermilk removes any compromise for anyone seeking better nutrition from plants,” says Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian and CEO of The Better Nutrition Program.

Functional coffee beverages provide a convenient opportunity for dairy processors to enter the non-dairy space. Imagine a range that includes lattes with milk, oats and almonds. There’s something for everyone and it’s being produced by a dairy. Further differentiate through the addition of extra nutrition. That’s what Danone North America is doing with its Stok brand. It now offers cold brew with almondmilk and cold brew with oatmilk.

The dip space provides a great deal of plant-based innovation opportunity, too.

Good Foods uses high-pressure processing (HPP) to make its new line of vegan Plant-Based Dips, which come in four varieties: Buffalo Style, Creamy Cilantro, Avocado Pesto and Queso. The HPP process, which pasteurizes without heat, allows for the dips to be made with all-natural ingredients. No preservatives are added, and thus the dips have a clean label with an extended shelf life. In addition, HPP keeps nutrients intact.  The creamy almond and vegetable-based dip comes in 8-ounce tubs and contains 45 calories per 2-tablespoon serving.
With digestive wellness one of this year’s hottest better-for-you trends, it only makes sense for plant-based yogurts to be designed for the gut-friendly platform. That’s what you get with new Simply Free yogurts from Choopoons. Made from simple ingredients, the cultured products are packed full of fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, omega-3 essential fatty acids and plant-based protein. They are made from cucumber seeds for protein and sweetened with cacao fruit pulp (the fruit surrounding the cacao beans) rather than refined sugars. They also have a glycemic index of less than 30.

Marketed as Greek Style Plant Powered Wellness Yogurt, the unique 8-ounce jars come in Banana Cinnamon, Mango, Pineapple and Raspberry varieties. One serving provides 200 or fewer calories, along with 4.5 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, 1200 milligrams of omega-3 ALA and one billion CFU of probiotics.

Maison Riviera is a new player in the yogurt space. The company is making its debut with a line of namesake vegan coconut-based yogurt alternatives in exotic and tropical flavors. The rich, creamy, indulgent product comes in 4.2-ounce glass jars and is sold in packs of two. The five varieties are: Lemon, Mango & Passionfruit, Pineapple & Coconut, Raspberry & Black Currant, and Vanilla. One serving provides 3 grams of protein with only 7 to 9 grams of sugar. It’s fortified with calcium and loaded with probiotics.

It’s time to grow your business and explore plant-based formulations.

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