Friday, May 22, 2020

Summer Inspiration Series: Focus on Lifestyle Foods

This weekend is the official kickoff to summer 2020 in many countries, including the U.S. It’s going to be a different one, with little to no travel and for cautious folks who listen to the scientific experts, no large gatherings and lots of social distancing. That should not stop you from getting outside and making some vitamin D. Use the solitude to start brainstorming on future innovations.

This blog kicks off the “Summer Inspiration Series,” where I will either explore new concepts in “other” food and beverage categories and discuss how they may apply to dairy, or will look at consumer behavior trends and brainstorm on how dairy foods processors may respond in coming months. When possible, I will provide a sneak peek to a dairy processor taking this approach with a new innovation. Today that processor is Chobani with its new Chobani Complete line scheduled to hit shelves late summer or early fall.

Today let’s talk about lifestyle foods. This is a term first used publicly by Chipotle Mexican Grill with its line of Lifestyle Bowls, which were introduced in January 2019. Inspired by wellness experts, the meals are designed to assist diners with their health and fitness goals. The company is now adding five more concepts to the lineup.

Chipotle partnered with YouGov to better understand how consumers’ food behavior patterns have shifted during this unprecedented time of social distancing. The brands’ joint study found more than a third of Americans (35%) are struggling to maintain healthy lifestyles and four in 10 (44%) are not maintaining a regular workout schedule since spending more time at home. Diets have fallen victim to increased snacking and consumption of processed foods, as the study found that more than a third of those surveyed (36%) have been eating more “junk food” during this period. Sixty seven percent of participants indicated they are trying to avoid or limit heading to the grocery store leaving a need for convenient and healthy options.

Lifestyle Bowls are designed to help consumers pursue their dietary goals from home, or on a blanket at the beach with a few family members, no closer than six feet from the next small group. Chipotle collaborated with an inspiring roster of wellness influencers to create the five new Lifestyle Bowls: professional basketball skills trainer Chris Brickley, cycling instructor Cody Rigsby, nutrition expert Dr. Mark Hyman and fitness athletes Tia-Clair Toomey and Mat Fraser. The five new menu items are in addition to Chipotle’s Lifestyle Bowls for specific diet regimens, including a Paleo Salad Bowl, Keto Salad Bowl, Whole30 Salad Bowl, Vegan Bowl, Vegetarian Bowl and High Protein Bowl.

Photo source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

The endorsements are a critical part of the branding and help the diner connect to their meal. They provide inspiration and help motivate. The Chris Brickley Bowl, for example, is a protein-forward meal of brown rice, double chicken, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili corn salsa, cheese, lettuce and guacamole, while the Dr. Mark Hyman Salad focuses on nutrient density with its mix of super-greens lettuce, brown rice, black beans, chicken, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, tomatillo-green chili salsa and guacamole.

Nestlé is introducing Life Cuisine, a new brand designed to deliver delicious, satisfying meal solutions that help consumer’s varying approaches to eating well. From gluten-free to high-protein, Life Cuisine is made with flavorful ingredients that help one power through the day, their way.

The brand recognizes that through the years, the definition of wellness has evolved from calorie-conscious eating to a more holistic approach that extends well beyond just what’s on the plate. Once-niche dietary trends like gluten free and meatless meals have become more mainstream. This new dynamic has inspired people to learn more about different foods, seek more specific product attributes and balance their lifestyles, according to the company. New Life Cuisine answers that call with a variety of nutritious options catering to four consumer lifestyles: low carb, high protein, meatless and gluten free.

“Eating well is no longer ‘one-size-fits-all,’ so our offerings can’t be either,” says John Carmichael, president, Nestlé Foods Division. “As needs evolve and expand, our team of culinary experts and nutritionists works in lockstep to deliver contemporary meals made for these emerging food lifestyles, from gluten free to meatless and beyond.”

The Life Cuisine frozen brand includes layered bowls, cauliflower-crust pizzas and sous vide egg bites.

Chobani has been evolving into a lifestyle brand as it has grown its offerings beyond the original Greek yogurt cup line. New Chobani Complete will further extend the company’s reach to meet consumers’ lifestyle choices.

Described as “Advanced Nutrition Yogurt” on front labels, the product also boasts upfront that it delivers “20 amino acids” and is “complete protein.” (All dairy yogurt contains this, but it’s the first time, to my knowledge, being called out). Labels also state that the yogurt is lactose free, easy to digest, made with only real fruit, has no added sugars, contains soluble fiber and is prebiotic and probiotic. Key ingredients are: chicory root fiber, lactase, monk fruit extract, stevia and an impressive cocktail of lactic acid cultures.

The 5.3-ounce cups come in Blueberry, Key Lime, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla and contain 120 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of inherent sugar. There’s also a 24-ounce vanilla container. The 10-ounce drinks come in Banana Cream, Mixed Berry Vanilla, Strawberry Cream and Vanilla. One serving contains 190-200 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 12 grams of inherent sugar.

Lifestyle foods…something to think about. Happy summer!

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