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.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Dairy Foods Innovation Opportunity: Prioritize Protein and Portability in Kids Products

It’s back-to-school time. And here’s some great news as you market and continue to develop products for kids. Protein currently is parents’ number-one priority when it comes to feeding their school-bound children, according to new research from Three Bridges, a manufacturer of clean-label prepared foods, many of which include dairy ingredients and proteins.

Back to school means different things for different people, but one thing that parents can’t help thinking about is how, when and what to feed their kids. We need to make sure dairy is part of their plan, even if it's dairy protein delivered through juice!

The Three Bridges research found that two-thirds of parents say that food prep during the school year stresses them out. In fact, thinking about breakfast and lunch meal prep is so top-of-mind that 74% of parents try to get ahead by starting to pack their kids’ food the night before.

What about priorities when it comes to the types of food products parents are looking for at the store? Two out of five (44%) cite nutrition as the driving factor for purchasing decisions, followed by convenience (32%) and price (24%).

Here are parents’ top-3 priorities:
  • Supplying protein (37%)
  • Minimizing sugar intake (30%)
  • Giving their kids something they enjoy (19%)

Parents looking for an extra nutritional boost for their kids now have a new option: Borden Kid Builder milk. Available in chocolate and strawberry flavors, the no-sugar-added enriched 2% fat milk come in 12-ounce single-serve and 52-ounce multi-serve bottles.

Designed for kids’ taste preferences, an 8-ounce serving of Borden Kid Builder contains 50% more protein (13 grams) and calcium (490 milligrams) than regular milk. One serving also contains 190 calories, 5 grams of fat and 19 grams of inherent sugar.

“Growing kids need protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals to build strong bodies and minds. But getting them to eat enough of these key nutrients can be a challenge,” says Nick Suffredin, vice president of research and development. “Whether offering the energy they need for that fun playdate or providing a tasty after-school snack, Kid Builder, with no added sugar, is an excellent high-protein option.”

The Kid Builder launch comes months after Borden’s recent transformation with new leadership and an optimistic vision to bring its nutritious and delicious dairy products to more families.

“Kid Builder is Borden’s first new product in some time and highlights the company’s recent focus on product innovation informed by consumer insights,” said Joe DePetrillo, chief marketing officer. “This product is just the beginning of an exciting period of innovation at Borden.”

And innovation is what the dairy industry needs to keep dairy relevant with today’s shoppers. The dairy industry needs to listen to what consumers want and develop those products. And, once developed, the industry must keep them exciting.

According to the July 2019 report “The evolving perspectives and strategies of dairy executives,” from McKinsey and Company, CEOs are reassessing their companies’ competitive advantages in a consumer landscape that is shifting toward small brands and a different set of preferences compared with older generations. In 2015, 21% of dairy CEOs had confidence in their customer service capabilities, followed by brand management. Only a minority considered customer insights to be a source of competitive advantage. In 2018, dairy CEOs had the most confidence in their operational capabilities, but very few listed brand management capabilities. Again, only a few cited consumer insights as a competitive advantage, which is surprising considering the influence of consumers on demand volatility.

Operational capabilities, while important, don’t sell product! Efficiently making products that consumers don’t want doesn’t support growth. Successful companies have an efficient, agile and global supply chain powered by consumer insights, reports McKinsey and Company.

The survey results suggest dairy companies are starting to respond to the new landscape by increasing the speed of innovation. The number of companies changing more than 5% of their portfolio increased from 73% in 2015 to 83% in 2018. According to the survey, new products represent 6% of the total portfolio of products for companies with growing portfolios and 3% for products with decreasing portfolios. New products = growth.

There are opportunities in cheese, snacking segment, new protein drinks, new protein items/snacking items, cottage cheese with mix-ins and spreadable cream cheese flavors, according to the survey results.

Juice, too, as you can see in this new Juicy Juice product. New shelf-stable Juicy Juice + Protein pouches come in Orange and Fruit Punch varieties. The flavored juice beverage blend from concentrate delivers 5 grams of whey protein in every 6-ounce pack. It contains 80% juice and 16 grams of sugar from the juice. There’s no added sugar.

 Danone is introducing Wild Danimals, a line of recloseable 7-ounce bottles that come in Berry Blast, Mango Mojo and Strawberry Smash flavors. A single-serve bottle is a good source of (6 grams) protein and (3 grams) fiber and an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D (20% of the Daily Value). The nonfat yogurts get the fiber boost from carob bean gum, while milk minerals add calcium. Added lactase enzyme renders the beverage lactose free. It also helps keep added sugars at 9 grams while maintaining the sweetness kids appreciate.

Ingenuity Brands, a company dedicated to food-based brain nutrition, has launched Brainiac Kids, 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, as well as choline. Extra protein comes from milk protein concentrate.

The whole milk yogurts have 40% less sugar and 50% more protein than the leading kids’ yogurt, while the yogurt drinks have 50% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt drink. They are made with three strains of live and active probiotic cultures, are non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, contain no artificial ingredients and are made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones.

Brainiac Kids comes in four kid-approved flavors: Cherry Vanilla, Mixed Berry, Strawberry and Strawberry Banana. The yogurt comes in 4-ounce cups and is sold in packs of four, as well as 2-ounce tubes in boxes of eight. The drinks come in 4- and 7-ounce bottles.

Yum Actually is a new line of frozen dairy dessert snacks. The emphasis with this product is less sugar and sneaking in whole fruit and vegetable nutrition. The initial rollout comes in Butternut Squash Butterscotch, Caramel Sweet Potato, Creamy Honey Banana and Yummy Mango varieties, with more in the works. The frozen treats are 40% lower in sugar and more than 65% lower in added sugar. Cream and nonfat dry milk are part of the formulation.

“Kids eat too much sugar these days,” says Nicole Frankel, founder. “When you look at the labels of other kids’ desserts sold in stores, the added sugar content is alarming. Because we use such flavorful fruits and veggies in our frozen desserts, we don’t need to add a lot.”

Yum Actually recognizes that convenience is key in today’s world. The frozen treats are sold in portable 3-ounce cups, with four cups in each box.

The Strong Inside
The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) and the members of the Dairy Protein Messaging Initiative (DPMI) have officially launched its 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.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Give your Yogurt Personality, a Purpose, a Meaning

Earlier this week, one of America’s most beloved caramel brands, Werther’s Original, announced it was rolling out new brand creative that adds more relevancy to what consumers feel when they enjoy a Werther’s Original caramel. That would be “A little piece of bliss.” The new commercial is more diverse and inclusive of all Werther’s consumers. It features a variety of products from the Werther’s Original portfolio that demonstrate for consumers all the many ways Werther’s can be enjoyed.

Werther’s Original is no longer simply a delicious caramel. It’s a little bit of bliss and is associated with enjoyable moments.

“We want to show consumers that there is a Werther’s caramel for everyone and every occasion,” says Katelin Lindley, senior marketing manager.

That made me think back to a few weeks ago when Midwest Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin hosted a Dairy Experience Forum in St. Paul, Minn. The event brought together dairy farmers, industry experts and partners with the goal of sparking disruptive innovation to drive the industry forward. Conversations focused on pushing attendees to think with the mindset of the next generation of consumers so that new innovations were designed to keep dairy foods relevant. Attendees walked away knowing that there are opportunities for dairy to be more spontaneous by creating products that disrupt the category and meet consumers’ needs in new and unexpected ways.

When discussing an example of disruptive innovation, Erika Thiem, director-dairy platform supply chain leader, General Mills, shared the story of a recent journey her team took after seeing a loss of market share in the traditional yogurt segment. They knew they needed something different, even if it meant possibly cannibalizing some of their own sales.

“We needed to find out why consumers were firing traditional yogurt products in the category,” said Thiem. “Falling in love with what the problem was, led us to create a new French-style yogurt which fulfills the need of a consumer who’s looking for a calm moment to relax. Taking the time to understand the job the product needed to do for the consumer really helped us follow the innovation path.”

The innovators gave their new yogurt line—Oui by Yoplait--a personality. The line has been in the marketplace for a little more than two years and has gained a very solid following. The premium yogurts described as “Inspired by our traditional French recipe” come in 5-ounce glass jars that are part of that personality. In addition to suggesting luxury, elegance and pure deliciousness, the clear glass jars have become the star of many Pinterest posts of do-it-yourself crafts. Some oui by Yoplait yogurt consumers are giving the jars a second life, others are recycling them. The glass jar has a purpose.

Here’s something to ponder, while higher protein was part of Greek yogurt’s appeal when it first rolled out, was that the real attraction? Was it the protein or was it that the protein was suggestive of strength and vitality?

Greek yogurt took on a personality of its own. It had a purpose in the diet and was providing a powerful nutrient in an affordable, delicious and convenient format.

Protein is now mainstream. Protein is expected.

You know what else is expected in yogurt? For starters, not too much, if any, added sugars. Probiotics and protein are also expected. In other words, these call outs on package labels are important but they’ve become expected and don’t necessarily suggest a personality or a purpose.

Here’s a new yogurt drink that is all about personality. Danone is adding to its Activia portfolio in the U.K. with a new range of bottled Live Culture Smoothies. The drink comes in two flavors. The orange fruits and vegetables is a blend of Activia yogurt with mango, peach, carrot, date and linseed. The red fruits and vegetables is a blend of Activia yogurt, strawberry, blueberry, beetroot, pomegranate, persimmon and chia seeds.

Bottles carry some bold statements, including “exclusive live yogurt cultures” and “one of your five-a-day.” Each bottles contains billions of live probiotic cultures, provides a source of protein, calcium and fiber, and contains no added sugar.

“With 30 years of experience, and our passion for happy guts, we’re really excited to launch our new Live Culture Smoothies, which contain all the goodness of our Activia yogurt along with a delicious portion of fruit and veg,” says Ben Kind, Activia brand manager. “We are continually adapting our range of fermented products to ensure that we are meeting evolving consumer demands.

“We know that younger consumers in particular want both nutrition and convenience, rather than having to choose between one or the other,” says Kind. “Our Live Culture Smoothies will launch in a convenient bottle format, ensuring that this delicious and nutritious product can be enjoyed on the go.”

Innova Market Insights reported a few days ago that more than half of all U.S. consumers now buy yogurt as part of their typical grocery basket, but their habits appear to be evolving. Convenience themes are becoming increasingly important, for example, with 17% of consumers naming this as a significant choice factor in 2018, which is more than twice as many from the previous year.

This can be explained by a shift in eating habits, as evidenced by recent data. Breakfast is still the number-one occasion for yogurt consumption, but it has lost ground over the past few years. Now, an increasing number of consumers are turning to yogurt as a convenient snack, while dinner is a growing niche.

These different eating occasions call for different yogurt personalities. What’s attractive at breakfast may not appeal mid-afternoon.

Oui by Yoplait is more of an evening snack or dessert, while Activia Live Culture Smoothies has on-the-go breakfast appeal.
“These shifts highlight the importance of ongoing innovation in this marketplace,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Convenient formats are now important for many consumers, while the rise of dinner usage suggests interest in more indulgent, dessert-style yogurts.”

Health remains another ever-present theme within yogurt development. The percentage of consumers who cite health as a significant choice factor has dropped in recent years, but most yogurts now occupy at least some kind of health platform so healthiness is increasingly accepted as standard.

In 2018, 64% of all new yogurts made digestive or gut health claims, while 58% were low in fat. There is evolution here too, with a growing focus on sugar reduction in recent years: low- and no-added-sugar claims increased their share of yogurt launches from just 3% in 2014 to 21% in 2018.

Indeed, low- and no-added sugar claims are where formulators are focusing their efforts. There are numerous ways to achieve this, and it often takes a systems approach involving cultures, enzymes and premium flavors.

Much like I queried about the meaning of protein concentration in
 Greek yogurt, let’s think about the sugar content proposition. Is this about being a lower-sugar yogurt or is it about providing a great-tasting yogurt product that helps the health and wellness shopper reduce their sugar intake? I think it’s the latter. That’s why it’s important to give the product a personality.

Danone did this earlier in the year with its Two Good Greek Lowfat Yogurt, which is described as “the ultimate twosome of less sugar and more delicious.” The brand recently added Black Cherry, Coconut and Plain to its lineup.

The brand developed a patent-pending slow-straining batching process that removes the sugar from the milk used to make the yogurt. What’s left is a thick, creamy Greek low-fat yogurt with more than 80% less sugar than average Greek yogurt. It gets a touch of sweet from stevia Reb M. A 5.3-ounce serving contains 2 grams total sugar, 12 grams of protein and 80 calories.

It’s no longer enough to simply call your product yogurt. It’s time to give it meaning. Give it a personality.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Gen Z Requires Dairy Processors to Push the Boundaries of Innovation

Photo source: Synergy

Generation Z was born somewhere between the mid-1990s and about 2015 (years are still to be decided). It’s the world’s youngest and largest consumer group and they have real food and beverages likes and dislikes. This is so much more than not wanting to eat their vegetables.

They are a tech-savvy, culturally diverse and experience-focused generation. They research foods and beverages in social media and directly impact household spending when they are not buying product themselves. Yes, they shop! Many parents let their youngest household members access the online grocery shopping account to select their preferred foods. (When my kids were little, the rule was it had to be on sale and I had to have a coupon. Today, sales and coupons are often irrelevant for many foodie households.)

A few weeks ago, Midwest Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin hosted a Dairy Experience Forum in St. Paul, Minn. The event brought together dairy farmers, industry experts and partners with the goal of sparking disruptive innovation to drive the industry forward. The group focused on getting into the consumer mindset of Gen Z in order to keep dairy foods relevant.

Among the highlights of the event was a live Gen Z consumer focus group of eight young adults ages 18-21 that discussed how their generation’s personal values and perceptions of food impact how they make purchasing decisions. During the discussion it became apparent that while Gen Z has some similarities to the Millennials who proceed them, they are also very different. Overall, the group identified themselves as skeptics, career focused, more protective of their social media exposure, concerned about equality and driven to make the world a better place. Given their on-the-go-lifestyles, convenience is a top priority, which provides numerous untapped opportunities for dairy to innovate and create products that will fit consumers’ ever-changing needs.

“It is essential that we think about the values of Gen Z now in order to establish trust and brand loyalty among a generation that will have huge buying power in the years to come,” said Lucas Lentsch, CEO of Midwest Dairy. “As an industry, we need to pay attention to what they care about and be proactive in creating innovative products that meet their needs, instead of being reactive and missing opportunities. Gen Z is setting the trends today that other generations will follow tomorrow, so it is essential that dairy is part of that conversation.”

Building off the discussion of proactive and disruptive innovation, Lentsch hosted an Innovation Panel. This group reinforced that in order to truly innovate, the dairy industry needs to tap into the consumer mindset and establish a type of brand love for dairy.

During this panel, marketing and product development leaders from Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), General Mills and Sartori Cheese discussed the need for consistent and spontaneous innovation in order to spark brand love. As an industry, dairy has always been very consistent, always providing a fresh, nutritious product produced by farmers. However, there is opportunity for dairy to be more spontaneous by creating products that disrupt the category and meet consumers’ needs in new and unexpected ways.

This includes flavor innovation. Gen Z is forcing the dairy industry to push the boundaries of flavor innovation. It’s time to get ready, get set and go!

Think more limited-edition and seasonal flavors. Tap into international flavor trends. Try a flavor contest. Gen Z wants to be engaged in flavor innovation and now is the time to get them involved.

To read an article I recently wrote for Food Business News on how “International ice cream formulations are diversifying U.S. freezers,” link HERE.

Photo source: Pasha Ice Cream

“The current climate of innovation for dairy and dairy alternatives tends to fall into either indulgence or functional categories,” says Sarah Diedrich, customer marketing manager at Synergy Flavors.

In regards to indulgence, she says we can expect to see more texture plays in decadent frozen desserts.

“We see this through the new retail ice cream layered pints,” says Diedrich. “When asking the American teenager their favorite component of an ice cream, rarely is it ever the base itself. They crave the details that make it unique, the cookie dough pieces, the hard chocolate coating, and top it with gummy worms…why not? 

“Breakfast-inspired dessert flavors, like French toast crumble, and popular cereal milk profiles, are big with Gen Z, as they are familiar flavors that Gen Z loves, but still disruptive and Instagram-worthy.”

At the Dairy Experience Forum, there was a discussion about social media and e-commerce and how this is both changing the way consumers shop for their food and also how they discover new products. This is the way Gen Z shops. With online food sales expected to grow 20% by 2023, there is opportunity for dairy as consumers will continue to seek out foods that are fresh, local, convenient and align with their values. While the process for discovering these foods might look different in the future, e-commerce is very exciting as it allows niche products to reach an even larger audience much faster and to build brand loyalty much more quickly than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Research shows once a consumer buys your product online, they are likely to purchase it time and time again.

Photo source: Synergy

“The e-commerce panel reminded us that while shopping for your food online will only increase over the years, it doesn’t mean that traditional grocery stores will go away. We will just need to think differently about how we bring our products to market in each of these avenues,” said Allen Merrill, Midwest Dairy chairman of Midwest Dairy’s board of directors. “For example, future consumers may buy all their groceries online, but they will still visit their local grocery store to explore and discover new products and brands. This offers a tremendous opportunity for new dairy innovation, and that is very exciting.”

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, shared insights about today’s global consumer and the opportunity for dairy to meet the needs of consumers around the world. This is essential, as the world’s population continues to grow at a rate of 1.07% a year, equaling roughly 82 million people.

“Roughly 95% to 97% of the world’s population lives outside the U.S. and that is a population that continues to grow,” said Vilsack. “It’s a younger population in developing and developed countries where incomes are rising, the middle class is expanding and cities are growing. There is a tremendous demand for dairy protein. So, in addition to having so many consumers for our products, the world needs and wants dairy.”

To read about the power of dairy protein, link HERE to an article I wrote for Food Business News titled “Dairy vs. Plant Protein.”

Sustainability also continues to be an important driver for consumers. The Gen Z focus group participants at the Dairy Experience Forum, as well as several speakers, discussed how farmers are the solution for sustainability issues, not the problem. On the front lines and with a deep investment in animal and land stewardship, dairy farmers can address root sustainability issues like water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, caring for the earth and animal welfare. While his is an everyday mission for farmers, speakers challenged farmers to proactively share the stories about how they are caring for the world in tangible ways in order to better connect consumers with the truths about dairy farming and sustainability.

Gen Z wants to know. They are demanding the information from their brands.

Synergy Flavors suggests three Gen Z-driven macro trends that are impacting the industry in far-reaching ways.

  • Unity: Younger consumers support brands that align with their views and encourage companies to take a stance on political opinion. For example, ‘buycotting’ is the anti-boycott, encouraging the excess purchase of a particular brand or product to support their messaging and counter sales of the competitors with which they don’t agree. Gen Z is seeking more authentic foods and beverages, with a particular interest in clean-label products and with traceable and transparent sourcing.
  • Tech Integration: Gen Z consumers are completely tech-savvy and using it to their benefit. They aren’t disengaged by their devices. They are connecting with content and friends on deeper levels and developing enriching relationships. Creating a visual and verbal brand lifestyle on social media is imperative to the success for new food and beverage products, and Gen Z consumers often define how “cool” a product is based on how it makes them feel, driven, in part, by its online persona. Their food or flavor of choice for the day also may depend on how they are feeling in that moment. How can food manufacturers use this to their advantage? By developing products meant for specific occasions or feelings (i.e. relaxing vs. exciting), they can attract Gen Z consumers and create a deeper connection to their needs.
  • Sensory-Centric Focus: Innovation has given the youngest generation an array of fun, multi-sensorial experiences. Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and unique activities, such as escape rooms and culinary tourism, all bring about new worlds to explore, and sensory experiences rank as top gifts for teens and young adults. Thus, Gen Z is expecting a lot out of products in terms of the “wow” factor. Gen Z consumers prefer bold flavor combinations like sweet, sour and spicy, and are keen on more extreme sensations, like ‘super-sour,” but without veering too unique in profile. Younger generations have a higher tolerance to these extreme profiles than those before them, so what’s hot enough or sour enough for the average Joe may seem “weak” to Gen Z.
“Forward-looking food and beverage brands are eager to anticipate trends the diverse and digitally native Gen Z are bringing to the world,” says Diedrich. “Growing up with a focus on authenticity of food rather than brand loyalty brings new challenges and opportunities, but by understanding the context in which these consumers live, manufacturers can develop more attractive products that are better suited to their needs and wants, delivering better performance in the marketplace.” 

Innova Market Insights has identified a number of themes that are dominating the top flavor trends of this year and will influence innovation going forward. This includes:

  • New Discoveries. All consumers, but especially Gen Z, are on a big, broad journey of discovery, moving out of their comfort zones to explore new food experiences, with flavor playing a major part. There is a role for reinventing classic flavors with novel twists, alongside developing new and more unusual flavors and combinations.

“When it comes to category fusion, I love the example of the Veggie Plot,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This is a savory yogurt that can be ready-to-eat, or it can be used in sauce or as a dip. Everybody can customize how they are going to use that because it ticks several category boxes.”

  • Sensational Concepts. Brands are leaning towards more remarkable and unusual flavor hybrids, as well as stronger taste experiences (hot, sweet, savory, etc.), while sour options are also surging in popularity. Well-established sweet and salty combinations are being joined by a whole raft of other hybrid flavor solutions.
  • Sophisticated Touch. Established flavors perceived to be dull are being reinvented, often in much more complex and sophisticated combinations. Notice how traditional coffee flavor is now cold brew and often with layers of flavor, such as caramel latte.
  • Cultural Celebration. Consumers regard themselves as world citizens and are increasingly interested in diverse flavors inspired by foreign cuisines. Southeast Asian, East Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors are more in evidence in traditional and familiar Western foods and beverages.
  • Fifth Dimension. Umami is the fifth basic taste after sweet, sour, bitter and salty but unlike the others, it’s hard to define. Often described as savory, meaty deliciousness, it comes down to the taste of glutamates on our tongue. Western awareness remains low, but the rising demand for exotic flavors and convenient home cooking is driving growth of launches with an umami claim. This presents an opportunity for more savory flavors in dairy applications. 

Fluid Milk Innovation Accelerator Competition

Consumer’s changing lifestyles have increased the demand for healthy food and beverage options that align with consumer values. While milk is the original functional beverage, the unique wholesome values of milk have been overlooked in our busy, chaotic lives. In response, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has launched The Real California Milk Accelerator to inspire new ideas integrating the values of fluid milk into contemporary products and provide the resources to help bring them to market.

With more than $450,000 in prizes, the contest combines two of California’s great natural resources: high-quality, sustainable fluid milk and the insatiable California entrepreneurial spirit. The competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in fluid milk products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots between manufacturers, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs.

“Consumers are looking for beverages that support their wellness goals while also fitting into their evolving lifestyles. No other food in nature exists to provide the nutritional value of milk with its unique flavor and functionality. Milk is a perfect ingredient in products developed for the way we live today,” says John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “Our goal is to drive innovation and help startups clear the hurdles to bringing these products to market.”

Through The Real California Milk Accelerator, the CMAB is seeking high-growth potential liquid milk product concepts, with milk making up at least 50% of their formula. The applicants will need to commit to producing the product in California, should they win the competition.

Up to eight applicants will receive $25,000 worth of support each, to develop a protocept, while receiving elite mentorship from marketing, packaging and distribution experts. This includes a business development trip to tour dairy farms and production facilities and to meet with industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. The winner will receive up to $250,000 worth of additional support to get their new product to market.

Competition rules and application documents are available at HERE. The deadline for application is August 31, 2019.

Get ready. Get set. Go!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Reducing Sugar in Dairy Products Often Requires a Multi-Prong Approach

Less sugar is the norm. Consumers are reading labels and many use the sugar—and added sugar--content of foods as basis for the decision to purchase and consume.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey shows that four out of five (80%) shoppers are limiting or avoiding sugars in foods. A higher percentage of 65-plus years old consumers use the Nutrition Facts to choose products with lower sugar.

This IFIC data is reinforced by Innova Market Insights’ research showing one in two U.S. Baby Boomers has been reducing sugar intake or buying more reduced-sugar products, while two in five are cutting back on their consumption of sweet snacks. This includes ice cream.

This trend is supported by research into the typical shopping basket.

“Boomers are below-average purchasers of certain sweet products such as chocolate, desserts, ice cream and snack bars,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “In contrast, they are markedly more important in the yogurt, sweet baked goods and breakfast cereals categories, so these could offer opportunities for sugar reduction.”

The U.S. yogurt category is already seeing high levels of low/no sugar development, with 20% of all launches in 2018 carrying such claims, up from just 4% in 2013, according to Innova data.

Lower-sugar dairy-based beverages, on the other hand, present a growth opportunity when targeting Millennials. This includes less-sugar dairy-based beverages, such as flavored milk, smoothies, lattes and nutritional beverages.

That’s beverages play an immense role in Millennials’ lives, ranging from occasions orienting to indulgence, discovery, and health and wellness to ones focusing on convenient satiety. Seventy three percent of Millennials always have a beverage on hand, compared to 63% of Gen X and 58% of Boomers, according to The Hartman Group. That’s a lot of beverages being consumed. With less sugar, dairy-based options run a greater chance of being on the menu.

Indeed, Millennials have a broad range of beverage aspirations. The desire to drink more water and drink less soda and less sugar are linked to their health and wellness goals.

Pillars is the perfect example of a dairy beverage designed to appeal to Millennials, Baby Boomers and everyone in between. (That’s Gen X and includes me, the ignored generation.)

Pillars Drinkable Greek Yogurt rolled out about three years ago and continues to gain distribution across the country. The company is now adding Peach to its original five flavors: Coconut, Mixed Berry, Strawberry & Banana, and Vanilla. Each 12-ounce single-serve bottle of any flavor contains 100 calories, no fat, 18 grams of protein, 5 grams of sugar—with no added sugars--and 3 grams of fiber. The product relies on mildly cultured nonfat yogurt, quality organic fruit purees, fibers and organic stevia to achieve this low sugar content. Product claims include being made with milk from grass-fed cows, non-GMO, containing live and active probiotic cultures and containing prebiotic fiber. For more information, link HERE.

There are many approaches to reducing sugar in dairy foods. Industry experts recently conducted a review of ingredient and processing opportunities to reduce sugar in dairy products. The analysis “Invited review: Sugar reduction in dairy products,” was published in the October 2018 issue of Journal of Dairy Science. Link HERE to read it.

They specifically explored technologies to reduce sugar in ice cream, yogurt and flavored milk without sacrificing flavor.

“Dairy foods represent a large market,” explained lead investigator MaryAnne Drake, professor, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center, North Carolina State University. “The dilemma of how to reduce sugar content without sacrificing flavor and negatively affecting product sales is challenging, as sugar plays an important role in dairy foods, not only in flavor, but also in texture, color and viscosity. Replacing sugar can have negative effects, making substitution inherently difficult.”

Source: International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey

Reducing sugar in dairy products often requires a multi-prong approach. That’s because when you take out sugar, it’s not just sweetness that is impacted. Further, when replacing sweetness, it’s important to understand how other ingredients in the matrix impact sensory perception. This includes texturants, fat and even the flavor system.

Dr. Drake and the other researchers identified numerous promising sugar-reduction technologies, including hydrolysis of lactose, ultrafiltration and alternative sweeteners, often in combination.

There’s also opportunity with sweet flavor modifiers. In fermented dairy foods, cultures can impact mouthfeel as well as acidity, which in turn influences sweetness perception.

Allulose presents one of the newest and possibly biggest opportunities for sugar reduction in dairy foods. This rare sugar tastes and functions similar to sugar while adding almost no calories. And since April 17, 2019, Food and Drug Administration’s draft guidance allows allulose to be excluded from the total sugars declaration and added sugars declaration on the Nutrition Facts label. Allulose has a similar taste profile to sugar and is 70% as sweet. To read more, link HERE.

“Understanding current sugar-reduction techniques, research and consumer response to sugar reduction in dairy products is important for dairy manufacturers in order to design and produce sugar-reduced products,” according to Dr. Drake. “Sugar reduction is an inherently difficult task due to the many functions of sugar in food products, but progress is being made in developing products acceptable to consumers.”