Thursday, March 5, 2020

Expo West: A Virtual Tour of All Things Dairy…and More (Part One)

Geez, what a whirlwind of a week! While I was relieved when I decided on Saturday to cancel my travels to Anaheim for Natural Products Expo West, I was in shock when I learned on Tuesday morning—while in Nashville for the American Meat Conference—that the restaurant where I dined the previous evening was in the tornado’s path. Like I said, it’s been a whirlwind of a week. Hope yours was less eventful.

To read more about the postponement—probably ultimately cancellation—of Expo West, link HERE.

The announcement was made very late in the game, with some companies having already started booth assembly. Samples had been shipped and some staff was on site. More than 3,600 companies had planned to exhibit, but concerns related to coronavirus (COVID-19) ultimately shut down the event that was to be held March 3 to 7 in Anaheim with an expected attendance of more than 85,000.

Food Business News put together a slideshow of innovations that had been scheduled to debut at the expo. You can view it HERE. This will give you a taste of what would have been the dominating themes of the show. As forecast last week, added sugars, calories, CBD and, of course, plant-based products dominated.

We will never know if the anticipated anti-dairy protesters would have made it onto the show. But I’m ready for my next encounter with them…Jill Biden has given me a few tips. Way to go Jill!

Here are some of the dairy products that were to be showcased at the expo. Take note of how companies who have plant-based options planned to showcase real dairy at the expo.

While Alden’s Organic recently introduced a line of plant-based frozen desserts, its heart remains in dairy. For Expo West the company rolled out two new 14-ounce containers--Ooey Gooey Brownie (organic chocolate ice cream loaded with organic brownies and decadent fudge) and Peachy Keen Twist (Organic peach and sweet cream ice cream swirled with organic blackberries)—and a 48-ounce sqround of Old Fashioned Vanilla.

Humphry Slocombe, which also recently introduced two new vegan flavors--Toasted Sesame Butter & Chocolate Chip and Coconut & Salty Caramel—had a new dairy flavor it planned to sample at Expo West. Scheduled to roll out later this spring, Brown Butter & Jam features brown butter ice cream with a blueberry jam swirl.

Re:THINK Ice Cream encourages you to rethink ice cream and see it as an indulgence with benefits. Introduced last year, the ice cream is lower in calories and contains only one-third of the sugar of traditional ice cream. It is certified low-glycemic; packed with more than 30 grams of whey protein per pint; contains no sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners; and includes prebiotic fiber, which helps the stomach digest food properly and keeps the gastric system running smoothly, according to Founder George Haymaker, who after entering a recovery program was forced to rethink everything in his life. The company had planned to give Expo West attendees a sneak peek at its new formulation that includes collagen and will be made with A2 milk.
“The better-for-you frozen dessert market has been inundated over the past few years with brands looking to win it big in the frozen foods section,” says Haymaker. “While some have done a great job marketing themselves, the product often leaves the consumer wanting, and can be perceived as chalky, tasteless, and filled with sugar alcohol and air. Re:THINK’s mission is to embrace all-natural, better-for-you ingredients, like A2/A2 dairy, and supplements, like collagen and whey isolate protein, that make a tangible difference to the way our consumers look and feel.”

Brainiac Kids, which is quickly gaining national distribution of its brain-fueling kids yogurt products that debuted a year ago at Expo West, is adding new shelf-stable applesauce pouches to its lineup. Like the yogurts, the applesauce is formulated with the company’s proprietary BrainPack, a blend of omega-3 fatty acids, choline and other nutrients crucial for brain development.

“This latest launch of applesauce pouches is an important step for the company proving the concept can cross multiple kids’ food categories,” says Mark Brooks, president and co-founder. “We were told by many industry experts that it would be impossible to get meaningful amounts of omega-3s, particularly DHA, into a shelf-stable product like applesauce and we are thrilled that we were able to find a way to bring this item to families nationwide.”

The company is donating all the product that would have been served at Expo West to local children. This includes the new applesauce and yogurt drinks and tubes.

NutraDried Food Company had planned on giving attendees a sneak peek to a new variety of Moon Cheese scheduled to debut late spring. White Chedda Black Peppa will join two other newer varieties--Garlickin’ Parmesan and Cheddar Bacon Me Crazy--as well as renamed fan-favorites Cheddar Believe It, Oh My Gouda and Get Pepper Jacked.

Full of nutrients to fuel consumers for their workday, workout or home life, Moon Cheese brings together over 10 grams of protein, no sugar and less than 2 grams of carbs per 1-ounce serving. The result is a 100% cheese snack that is satisfyingly crunchy with no refrigeration required.

“We’ve doubled each of the past two years and the brand relaunch and new flavors will further accelerate that growth,” says Mike Pytlinski, CEO. “For our retail partners, we’re helping drive the emerging natural snack category. For consumers, we’re providing a healthy dairy snack, available at any time, and that does not compromise great taste or nutrition.”

Bubbies Ice Cream is debuting its new Churro Mochi Ice Cream. Inspired by the global flavors of the beloved Latin dessert, Bubbies Churro Mochi Ice Cream (pictured) fuses the indulgent experience of authentic fried churros into a one-of-a-kind new mochi ice cream treat. The Churro Mochi Ice Cream was the winner of the 2019 #MakeMyBubbies contest, which invited fans to submit and vote on social media for their favorite aspiring flavor.

“At Bubbies, we love taking iconic flavor combinations and putting our spin on them to deliver fresh and innovative new ways for people to enjoy them,” says Bubbies CEO, Rick Schaffer. “With churros being one the most beloved and nostalgic treats around the world, we knew that combined with our super premium ice cream and our one-of-a-kind mochi dough, this bite sized treat wouldn’t disappoint.”

While Bolthouse Farms was planning on having a “Plants Powering People” themed booth, one of its new products relies on milk protein isolate as a star ingredient. The new Bolthouse Farms Protein Keto comes in Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee and Matcha flavors. In addition to milk protein isolate, the drinks contain coconut cream and medium chain triglycerides and they are sweetened with erythritol and stevia. This keeps fats high, protein moderate and sugars non-existent.

Wünder Creamery planned to use Expo West to showcase its newly attained Non-GMO Project Verification status for its entire 5.3-ounce line of quark. Made with milk from grass-fed cows, flavors include Strawberry, Blueberry, Coffee, Vanilla Bean Coconut, Raspberry, Matcha, Mango, Coconut, as well as Plain.

Wünder brings quark, a cultured dairy staple that has been enjoyed throughout Europe and Central Asia for centuries, to the U.S. Comparable to a Greek or Icelandic style yogurt, quark is high in protein and low in sugar. Yet quark distinguishes itself in taste and texture by having a much milder, non-tart flavor.

Co-founder and CEO Daniyar Chukin says, “It’s our mission to make the best authentic quark in the U.S. and using simple non-GMO ingredients is part of it. With the recent move to our new production facility, we can now manufacture a non-GMO product and achieve Non-GMO Project Verified status. We want our consumers to know what’s in their food.”

Icelandic Provisions, manufacturers of traditional skyr made with certified heirloom cultures, planned to sample three new varieties in its Krímí Skyr whole milk range: Lemon, Pineapple Coconut, and Cold Brew Coffee. The latter was developed in partnership with Te & Kaffi, Iceland’s largest family-run coffee roastery. There’s also one new Traditional Skyr (a 1.5% milk range) variety: Blackberry Boysenberry. This new traditional flavor uses locally sourced crushed berries from New York state.

Kalona SuperNatural, an Iowa-based dairy that works with small Amish and Mennonite family farms to create its certified organic cream-topped dairy products from pasture-grazed cows, planned to roll out its new kefir at Expo West. It comes in 32-ounce bottles in plain and vanilla flavors.

“Unlike large-scale conventional and organic dairies, we know every farmer in our region. Our company supports their efforts to protect the land and create high-quality, grass-fed milk products for everyone to enjoy,” says Phil Forbes, Kalona SuperNatural Farm Liaison. “A majority of the family farms we work with are multi-generational and have been in the same family for the past 150 years. That says something.”

Need Innovation Inspiration in Ice Cream, Yogurt or Other Cultured Dairy?

Two conferences, one registration…plan your travels to Miami March 31 to April 1 for the International Dairy Foods Association’s annual Ice Cream Technology Conference and the new Yogurt & Cultured Innovation Conference. I will kick off the two meetings in a joint session titled “Staying Relevant Without Succumbing to a Fad: The Past 20 Years in Review.”

Here’s the overview: So much has changed in the food world in the past 20 years, and the ice cream, yogurt and cultured dairy industries have evolved to stay relevant to consumers. There have been some great success stories, as well as some short-lived concepts. This presentation will explore the trends, the fads, the approaches and the achievements of the past two decades to provide insight as you plan your future innovations. We’ll look at 20 product concepts and identify what gave the trends their fuel and how you can continue to evolve to stay relevant to disruptive and demanding consumers, including the emerging generation Z.

World Dairy Innovation Awards

Dairy processors around the world continue to amaze with their innovation efforts. Here’s a chance to receive recognition: enter The World Dairy Innovation Awards 2020. The U.K.-based FoodBev Media has organized and presented this award for the past 14 years. This year the judges will be selecting winners in 20 different categories. The finalists and winners will be announced at a special gala dinner during the 14th Global Dairy Congress on the evening of June 16, 2020, in Laval, France.

For more information and to enter, link HERE. This year, the closing date for entries is April 30, 2020.

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