Friday, June 28, 2019

Dairy Innovation on the Global Stage

“Optimism in the midst of chaos.” That’s the current global dairy outlook according to Saskia van Battum, analyst-dairy, RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, who spoke at the 2019 Global Dairy Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 26, 2019. Seventeen of the 20 global dairy players are Rabobank’s clients, with whom the bank has committed € 22.5 billion, representing 22% of its food and agribusiness loan portfolio. The company believes there’s room for growth through innovation.

Anne Wong-Erven, insight and advisory director, Zenith, added, “Milk consumption has continued to increase over the past 10 years, reaching 277 billion liters in 2018. Developing markets are increasing per-capita consumption, but developed markets are struggling to increase consumption. Asia Pacific holds the largest global consumption volume share.”

The way to increase dairy intake is through innovation. And that’s what was on stage at the Congress, where The World Dairy Innovation Awards 2019 were presented. U.K.-based FoodBev Media has organized and presented this award for the past 13 years. Every year, some of the biggest, most world-renowned brands and groundbreaking new start-ups enter the awards, highlighting their newest innovations on this global platform. This year there were 167 entries from 19 countries.

“In a challenging year for the dairy industry, we have seen a broad range of innovation within the entries for the 13th annual World Dairy Innovation Awards as brands continue to find creative solutions,” said FoodBev Media marketing manager Matt Ferris. “Once again, we are fascinated by the level of innovation, from the datafication of agriculture to advance sustainable production practices, to the new flavors, concepts and modernized manufacturing technologies designed to give consumers more choice and aid digestive wellness.”

Below is the complete list of winners, including some descriptions. To learn more about the contest, to review the list of finalists in all 22 categories and to watch a video of the winning products, link HERE.

Best allergy-friendly dairy or dairy alternative product
  • Heilongjiang Yeeper Dairy Group – Bekari Growing-up Formula Sheep Milk Powder

Best brand extension or reformulation
  • Icelandic Provisions – Krímí Skyr: whole milk yogurt prepared using the Icelandic tradition of pouring whole cream on skyr and adding freshly foraged ingredients for a decadent treat. The name Krímí is a play on words. It’s how an Icelander might write out the English word “creamy.” Icelanders like to “Icelandicize” words when necessary and Krímí is the perfect example. Each of the four launch flavors has a carefully curated ingredient profile. Varieties are: Chocolate Coconut, Mixed Berry, Strawberry Rhubarb and Vanilla Bean. Like all Icelandic Provisions products, Krímí Skyr is made with preserved and treasured heirloom skyr cultures and local milk from cows on a largely grass-filled diet. Icelandic Provisions does not contain artificial preservatives, thickeners, sweeteners, flavors or colors. Products are also sweetened with just a “little bit” of cane sugar, with the amount stated on front panels.

Best butter/dairy spread
  • Agropur – Natrel Whipped Cottage Cheese Dip: blended low-fat cottage cheese that functions as both a dip and spread. The curds and cream are whipped to a smooth, creamy texture and come Plain or with seasonings. The two seasoned varieties are Chive & Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper. High in protein and low in calories, a 2-tablespoon (30 grams) serving contains 25 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar and 3 grams of protein. 

Best cheese
  • Grandvewe Cheeses – Gin Herbalist: upcycled whey from sheep’s milk cheese gets fermented into alcohol, essentially turning cheese waste (whey) into a beverage. To continue the upcycle process, the company collects the botanical waste from the gin production and coats the outside of a cheese with the spent Australian native botanicals. This cheese has a unique gin flavor. When young, it is firm and moist with citrus flavors and a slightly sour tang. With age the texture becomes softer, absorbing the savory and herbaceous flavors of the rind. This results in a delicate balance with the warm bright sheepy quality of the interior paste. 
Best children’s dairy
  • Junlebao Dairy – LePlatinum K2 Growing-up Milk Formula
Best dairy alternative
  • Happy Cheeze GmbH – Happy White: The Camembert Alternative
Best dairy dessert
  • Nightfood – Nightfood Ice Cream 

Best dairy drink
  • Hartshorn Distillery – Sheep Whey Vodka
Best dairy ingredient
  • Chr. Hansen – Sweety Y-1 Culture

Best dairy snack
  • siggi’s – Simple Sides: whole milk yogurt with a side compartment of simple, no-added-sugar mix-ins. The four varieties are: honey yogurt with dried figs & walnuts, plain yogurt with muesli & currants, vanilla yogurt with almonds & dried cherries, and vanilla yogurt with dried coconut & cacao nibs. The product varieties contain, on average, 15 grams of protein and 11 grams of sugar per 5.3-ounce serving, offering a more positive nutritional profile amidst the traditionally sugar-filled yogurt with mix-ins product segment, which averages 18 grams of sugar per 5.3-ounce serving, according to the company.
“Our mission has always been to provide yogurts that are lower in sugar, have a simple ingredient list and taste great,” said Siggi Hilmarsson, founder. “This new launch follows the same philosophy. Yogurt with crunchy, tasty toppings as a side has become a popular snack among consumers in recent years. However many of those offerings are sadly more comparable to sugary treats than wholesome snacks.”

Best dairy parlour innovation
  • Yoghurt Barn – Yoghurt Parlour

Best dairy protein product
  • Bam Life – Bam Organic: an all-natural high-protein milk shake. Each single-serve carton contains 25 grams of protein and is made with only five ingredients: organic British milk and milk protein, organic honey, organic banana and organic corn flour.
Best functional dairy
  • Grandvewe Cheeses – Fresh Curd with Probiotics
Best ice cream/frozen yogurt
  • Nightfood – Nightfood Ice Cream: sleep-friendly flavors of ice cream. Each pint has a fun, nighttime-themed name, and delivers ice cream indulgence with a sleep-friendly recipe for both kids and adults. The eight flavors are: After-Dinner Mint Chip, Breakfast in Bed (maple-flavored waffle), Cherry Eclipse, Cold-Brew Decaf, Cookies n’ Dreams, Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate and Milk & Cookie Dough. NightFood’s team of sleep experts made sleep-friendly decisions regarding the recipe, according to Sean Folkson, CEO. This means that the coffee ice cream is decaf. Cherry Eclipse is made with nutrient-rich tart cherries, one of the few foods naturally high in melatonin (the hormone that triggers sleep). The chocolate-type flavors rely on a patented cocoa-based ingredient that tastes just like chocolate but without the caffeine kick. The ice cream has a balance of fiber, protein and (less) sugar, which its scientific advisors helped formulate. Ingredients include a protein that’s relatively low in lactose (milk protein isolate), as well as minerals, amino acids and enzymes they say aid sleep and reduce acid reflux. Chicory root contributes fiber, and in combination with monk fruit extract, keeps sugar content low. A half-cup serving contains 70 to 100 calories, 1.5 to 2.5 grams of fat, 6 to 7 grams of protein, 6 to 10 grams of sugar and 3 to 5 grams of fiber, depending on variety. 
Best infant nutrition
  • Löwenzahn Organics – Infant Formula
Best machinery/equipment innovation
  • Cheese Grotto – the wine cellar for cheese
Best manufacturing/processing innovation
  • Junlebao Dairy – VITARESH INF009S Technology
Best marketing campaign or initiative
  • Les Producteurs de lait du Québec – Solide Liquide 2018
Best new brand/business
  • Yaar Bars – Yaar Bars: chilled Belgian chocolate-covered quark snacking bars. The mild, creamy quark comes in Cloudberry, Toffee and Vanilla flavors. The smooth center is described as having a thick and creamy taste like yogurt and the texture of cheesecake. The bars are under 140 calories, gluten-free and free from artificial colors, additives and preservatives.
Best packaging design
  • Elopak – Aseptic Pure-Pak Sense Carton with Natural Brown Board
Best sustainability/CSR initiative
  • Valio – 100% Plant-based Cartons
Best yogurt
  • Icelandic Provisions – Krímí Skyr
There will not be a Daily Dose of Dairy blog published on Friday, July 5, 2019, because of the Independence Day holiday. Cheers!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Fresh Dairy—and Non-Dairy—Innovation Inspirations “Live from New York”

It’s Summer Fancy Food time in New York City. The expo kicks off Sunday, June 23, and runs until Tuesday, June 25, in The Javits Center. As has become tradition, I like to arrive a few days early to explore the culinary scene in the Big Apple. Here I share with you some observations from a day in Brooklyn.

Accompanying me was a grad student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who I am mentoring on ice cream trends. We walked 10 miles, more than 22,000 steps on Thursday and are ready for another day of exploration.

It’s been nice to have a set of fresh eyes during this foodie adventure. We agreed how refreshing it is for ice cream shops to be a destination for so many in New York. These are independents. Many have a number of shops scattered across the city. They are consistently busy.

Instead of meeting out for a coffee or a glass of wine, friends go for a scoop of ice cream. Taking the dog for an evening walk? Why not stop for a scoop of the flavor of the month?

In so many cities across the country, with my hometown Chicago no exception, ice cream shops are chains. The product has been commoditized. The originality and selection of local ingredients is gone. Not in the New York metro area! (Another future blog will provide flavor inspiration. Here’s just a peak of what we tried.)

Good ice cream is a real thing for New Yorkers.

After way too long of being dissatisfied with the pint she was buying from her local bodega--pints had shrunk, the ice cream was no longer natural and flavors were not exciting anymore--Diana Hardeman took matters into her own hands. In the summer of 2009, she bought a small home ice cream machine, got in touch with local farms and started crafting what she calls her “dream ‘screams.” These were flavors she only dreamed about until now. MilkMade officially launched a few months later

Hardeman is a pioneer of the New York food movement and helped make New York City an ice cream connoisseur’s destination. While New York State produces less than half the milk that comes out of California and Wisconsin—the number-one and two milk producing-states—by far, it leads in premium ice cream innovation.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Wisconsin fried cheese curds. But there’s something about freshly churned ice cream made with local ingredients. It’s health food in New York City. It destresses, satisfies and delivers a decent dose of calcium and protein.

The MilkMade Brooklyn Tasting Room opened in the summer of 2015. The tasting room is exactly that--a place for ice cream lovers to taste, meet the chefs and learn more about the company’s small-batch production process.

Each month, the Milkmaids handcraft and hand-pack each pint, then head out on foot, bike, subway, skateboard, etc., to hand-deliver the freshly churned product right to door. Product may also be shipped outside of New York City.

Photo source: Eight Turn Crepe

The MilkMade Tasting Room offers a lineup of six “Seasonal ‘Screams” that rotate monthly. Hardeman and her culinary team strive for constant innovation and take inspiration from everything around—what’s fresh at the greenmarket, events around the city, topical news, even their favorite music.

In honor of the annual Puerto Rican parade, for example, the chefs recreated Quesitos de Guayaba, a popular Puerto Rican baked dessert that features cream cheese pastry with guava. The ice cream version is cream cheese ice cream with real chunks of cream cheese and a guava swirl along with pastry pieces.

This is what ice cream is all about.

Even milk and yogurt have a fresh face in New York. There are numerous milk and cereal bars, where ice cream and yogurt are also available for getting topped by your favorite morning bowl food.

Fresh yogurt is the star at Eight Turn Crepe, where both sweet and savory concoctions are served in a hand-made rice crêpe. For breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, this Japanese-style hand-held meal doubles as a work of art.

Yogurt gets whipped with custard and combined with fruits, nuts and all types of goodies. Ice cream is also an option.

Then there’s The Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain where one can enjoy a traditional Brooklyn Egg Cream, which is made with cold whole milk, sweetened syrup and seltzer. There’s also hand-scooped milkshakes, sundaes and hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches.

The numerous specialty food stores located throughout New York City prepare many fresh offerings featuring dairy. While most are likely not culturing cream cheese or yogurt in the back room, they are sourcing premium clean-label products from dairy processors.

Check out this dessert from BKLTN Larder. The Berries & Ginger variety features fresh blueberries and strawberries atop cream cheese blended with spices. It can be consumed with a spoon right from the container or spread on toast or crackers.

Local baker Artuso Pastry is rolling out Cannoli Crisps. This dome-topped container has cinnamon crisps in the bottom that are intended for dipping into the dome of vanilla-flavored ricotta impastata cheese with chocolate chips.

The last observation to share today is a concept slowing rolling out to Whole Food Markets in select regions. We were lucky enough to find one. It’s the NüMilk machine, which allows shoppers to make their own non-dairy milk. Just grab a bottle. Hit a button. And you can get a freshly prepared quart of either almondmilk or oatmilk, original or sweetened.

If water, soft drinks and “nut milks” can be sold through a dispensing machine, why not milk?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Designing Dairy Products to Help Consumers Feel Good

A takeaway from IFT19, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and expo, was a growing interest in designing foods to help consumers feel good. This is consistent with research from Innova identifying “feeling good” as one of the top-10 trends for 2019.

Achieving “feeling good,” as it relates to food, has many meanings. In some instances, it’s the role that nutrition plays in physical health. Other times it may be comfort food impacting emotional well-being. Sometimes food calms, other times it may energize. Of course, satisfying and deliciousness almost always come into play.

One thing is for sure. A growing number of consumers recognize that feeling good comes from the inside out and digestive health influences both body and mind.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey shows that about one-fourth (23%) of all shoppers seek out foods for a health benefit. Of that segment, more than half are looking for digestive health benefits.

Data from NMI shows that nearly two out of five (39%) consumers are trying to manage digestive issues. Interestingly, it is younger millennials (20 to 26 years old) who are really on board with digestive health. These young adults are likely seeking out foods that help keep the good bacteria in their gut thriving.

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation

That’s what you get with probiotics and prebiotics. That’s what Activia Probiotic Dailies low-fat yogurt drinks deliver. If you have not explored Danone North America’s Activia website lately, link HERE. It’s really quite impressive. The Dailies contain billions of live and active probiotics, prebiotic fiber in the form of chicory root fiber and real ginger, all ingredients known to support gut health.

The brand educates the reader on probiotics and that all probiotics are not created equal, explaining that all yogurts contain Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, but not all yogurts contain probiotics. L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus are bacteria used to ferment milk to create acidic dairy products such as yogurt. On the other hand, probiotics are live friendly bacteria that have been scientifically studied and when consumed in sufficient amounts provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. Activia yogurt contains two probiotics: Lactococcus lactis and Danone’s proprietary probiotic culture: Bifidobacterium lactis DN 173 010/CNCM I-2494.

Source: NMI

While all probiotics are not created equal, neither are prebiotics.

A review of the science of prebiotics was presented in a consensus statement developed by the International Scientific Association for Probiotic and Prebiotics (ISAPP) in 2017 and in a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in June 2018. The consensus is: “A prebiotic is a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.”

According to this definition and the published clinical research, the only dietary fibers that can be called “scientifically proven prebiotics” are galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructans, such as inulin and oligofructose. This makes chicory root fiber a natural, plant-based prebiotic. It’s a fiber that’s been proven to help one “feel good.”

Source: International Food Information Council Foundation

While many consumers are still learning about fibers and prebiotics, their awareness of fiber and prebiotics is growing. The IFIC research shows that both fiber and prebiotics are increasingly recognized as being healthful.

Link HERE to download a white paper from BENEO explaining how chicory root fibers function as prebiotic fibers and assist with “feel good” perception. The company provides data measured scientifically by designated questionnaires addressing quality of life.

In addition to assisting with digestive health, there are other benefits to formulating dairy foods with chicory root fiber. Certain forms may replace fat and sugar in formulations, helping reduce caloric content without altering taste or texture. They also may contribute to balanced blood sugar levels, as well as support the absorption of essential minerals in food.

Probiotics and prebiotics help dairy foods marketers differentiate in the crowded refrigerator space. They add value to dairy foods and help today’s shoppers “feel good.” Sounds like a recipe for success!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Dairy Garners Lots of Attention this Week

It’s been one busy week. It was so wonderful to visit with many Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) expo in Orlando, as well as the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) annual meeting and expo in New Orleans. (Sorry to the many who had travel issues. I am thrilled to report that my flight got me home a few minutes early, unlike last time IFT was in New Orleans and it took me three days!)

Cheese was the star at IDDBA 19 and marketers showed attendees—mainly brokers, buyers and distributors—that innovation in this sector shows no signs of slowing. Snacking cheeses were plentiful and are getting more creative through upscale pairings and worldly flavors.

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

Year-to-date volume sales of retail packaged cheese were up 2.2% through April 21, 2019, according to IRI data provided to Dairy Management Inc., courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association. Convenience forms of cheese, such as natural slices and shreds, as well as convenient snacking forms, such as cubes, sticks and string, are key drivers of growth. Cube is up almost 15% YTD, while sticks are up 10.9% YTD. Please note that this data does not include snacking cheeses sold outside of “dairy.” For example, there are cubes being sold in store-made snack kits and sticks being wrapped with charcuterie and merchandised in the deli meat department. These are additional sales.

IDDBA 19 had a record breaking attendance and the event offered an abundance of educational experiences from actionable merchandising ideas—such as meal kits for cats and dogs, which included cheese cubes--and presentations from influencers and experts. The Daily Dose of Dairy was LIVE on Sunday. Link HERE to view my 20-minute overview of what’s driving innovation in the refrigerated dairy space.

 To celebrate June as National Dairy Month, the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) is raising awareness of the contemporary dairy department. Today’s modern dairy aisle is not your grandfather’s dairy aisle, according to NFRA. It’s all about trendy, nutritious, innovative beverages and foods made with real ingredients and offering farm-to-table freshness. The new dairy department offers something creative and palette-pleasing for everyone.

“It has evolved over the years,” says chef, entertaining expert and TV personality James Briscione, “adapting to new lifestyle changes, food trends and important dietary needs.”

It’s exciting to see dairy being called out on foodservice menus, too. Wendy’s, for example, is bringing back its Berry Burst Chicken Salad for the summer months. It is prepared in-restaurant daily and features hand-cut strawberries, juicy blueberries, tangy feta cheese and freshly grilled chicken on a bed of crisp lettuce. Each salad is packed with nutritional goodness, as it contains a half-cup of fruit, half-cup of dairy and almost two cups worth of vegetables in the full-size variety. This is part of the chain’s messaging. Wendy’s continues to focus on real, whole foods. When it comes to protein, the chain keeps it simple and clean: beef, chicken, bacon and cheese.  

At IFT, while plant proteins and CBD were very prominent, dairy proteins held their own. After all, they are super proteins. To read about their superiority and what the dairy ingredients industry plans to do to promote their position, link HERE to an article I recently wrote for Food Business News on Dairy Proteins vs. Plant Proteins.

In honor of National Dairy Month, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) launched an updated version of its popular economic impact tool Dairy Delivers. This online interactive resource provides data on the combined impact of the dairy products industry at the national, state and Congressional district levels across the U.S. It is the most comprehensive and current analysis of how the production and marketing of all dairy products—milk, ice cream, cheese, butter, yogurt and cultured products, and ingredients like protein powders and whey—positively affect the U.S. economy. Data include direct and indirect measures of output, wages, jobs, state and national GDP, and contributions to taxes at the local, state and national levels.

You can link to Dairy Delivers HERE.

Throughout the month of June, IDFA will share more than 50 short social media friendly videos on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@dairyidfa) detailing the economic impact of the dairy industry in the U.S. as well as in each of the 50 states. We begin with the U.S. Click on the video image to play.

Overall, the dairy industry supports the U.S. economy in the following ways:
  • Contributes 1% to national GDP.
  • Adds $620 billion in total economic impact.
  • Supports more than three million total jobs.
  • Provides a $64.5 billion contribution to federal, state and local taxes (not including sales taxes paid by consumers).
  • Generates $38 billion in direct wages for workers in dairy industry.
“Not only do dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages, but they also drive growth, support jobs and contribute to a healthy economy. As the voice of the dairy industry, IDFA is proud to introduce Dairy Delivers 2.0, the most comprehensive picture of dairy’s impact on the U.S. economy,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “There is new economic data detailing how the five major segments of dairy make a difference across country. From dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, IDFA’s members are dedicated to making safe, delicious products that nourish and sustain people while delivering for our economy.”

Users of Dairy Delivers will learn how dairy products contribute directly to the U.S. economy, including:
  • Milk: Adds $51.4 billion in direct economic impact and supports 64,400 dairy industry jobs.
  • Ice Cream: Adds $11 billion in direct economic impact and supports 26,100 dairy industry jobs.
  • Cheese: Adds $50.9 billion in direct economic impact and supports 52,200 dairy industry jobs.
  • Yogurt and Cultured Products: Adds $5.5 billion in direct economic impact and supports 6,900 dairy industry jobs.
  • Dairy Ingredients: Adds $14.1 billion in direct economic impact and supports 9,300 dairy industry jobs.

Then there’s the last item on my list. The Fair Oak Farms/fairlife milk situation regarding animal abuse is upsetting and one that puts the entire dairy industry—from farm to fridge—under the magnifying glass. If you are unaware of the situation, link HERE to the company’s response to the scandal and surf the internet to educate yourself on how consumers—and retailers--are reacting.

I find the timing of the release of the video at the onset of National Dairy Month to be uncanny. Makes you wonder motive. 

I appreciate commentary by Mike Opperman, editor of Dairy Herd Management. Please link HERE to his editorial titled "I drink fairlife and I feel good about it." I agree with his perspective.

We need to get educated. Be smart. And take care of our farm animals.