Thursday, July 9, 2020

Eating with Our Eyes at SHIFT, the 2020 Installment of IFT

Before we heard of COVID-19, the majority of ingredient companies planning to exhibit at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting and Food Expo were likely going to focus their efforts on plant-sourced ingredients and all types of protein, along with natural and clean label claims. These topics will still be prevalent this coming week--July 13 to 15—when the conference “SHIFT”s to a virtual format. 

It’s going to be a different type of event, as IFT is all about tasting prototypes. This year we will be eating with our eyes.

Learn more about SHIFT20 by linking HERE. There’s still time to register. The live and pre-recorded sessions will all be available to registered attendees for one year. The topics are timely and a great resource for innovation and food science discovery.

A key theme at SHIFT20 will be whether the food that sustains our world could also be the biggest threat to its survival. Topics will be divided into five areas: Health and nutrition, food safety and security, science and technology, sustainability and innovation. For live events, attendees will be able to ask questions in real time. For pre-recorded sessions, attendees will be able to reach out to presenters through their virtual profile and ask questions directly.
Link HERE to view the complete SHIFT20 program.

Here are five facts to consider:
  1. Retailers are reducing the number of SKUs they carry. With some products, this is because of anticipated supply chain issues. With others, it’s to free up shelf space for fast-moving and in-demand products, per the shopping trends of the past few months.
  2. Many K-12 schools will be fully or partly virtual when classes resume in a few weeks. Many meals will be served at home. 
  3. Universities and institutions will focus on pre-packaged foods for off-site consumption. 
  4. The uptick in COVID-19 out-of-home dining during the summer months will slow when the seasons change.  
  5. Food prices have increased the past few months, along with the unemployment rate. We are entering a recession.
Here are the five topics that every dairy foods formulator and supplier to the industry should prioritize.

1. Clean-label cost savings. A growing number of shoppers will become more price conscious this autumn. Brands that communicate their simple, clean-label attributes while being lower in price may have an advantage. Now is the time to consider formulation tweaks. This might be sweetener blending or strategic use of flavors and enhancers to reduce amounts of more costly ingredients, such as cheese, chocolate, cream, coffee and vanilla. This is especially true for imported ingredients.

2. Restaurant-inspired convenience cooking. Many home cooks are tiring, and while they may be increasingly price conscious, many are willing to spend a little more on restaurant-quality convenience. Think cooking creams and sauces; flavored cheeses and authentic queso; even barista foam and flavored creamer.

3. Adventurous flavors and package graphics. International travel has been shuttered. Domestic flights are limited, and frankly, scary to many. It’s time to design products that take the consumer on an adventure. They can even be tried and true favorites, just now with an attribute that brings back a memory of a place once visited. 

General Mills is doing this with its Oui by Yoplait French-style yogurt. The glass pots containing the yogurt now come in French-inspired designs. French Chic features stripes that come from the nautical culture of Northern France and have since become a style icon around the world. French Countryside features a pattern from what you might find in a farmhouse kitchen somewhere in the lavender fields of Provence. French Modern is inspired by Art Deco, the world-renowned visual style that first appeared in France in the early 1900s.

This limited-time Heritage Selection should be welcome by the many people who enjoy crafting with the glass pots. This is an activity that’s been trending the past few months while spending more time at home. Can your package provide something extra?

4. Immunity. The importance of health and wellness is at an all-time high as consumers try to build immunity and fight off the virus. This is something I wrote about early on after stay-at-home orders were issued. Read more HERE. It’s time to add proven probiotics to your dairy foods and flag their inclusion.

The American Dairy Products Institute hosted a webinar on July 9, 2020, titled: “Dairy Ingredients, Immunity & Immune Health.” To view the recorded event, link HERE. The research is fascinating. 

5. Food safety. It’s on top of every consumers’ mind. It’s also something that most companies don’t boast about. Now’s the time to share your food safety program, including COVID-19 precautions. 

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