Friday, August 14, 2020

Dairy Foods Flavor Innovation…to get us through the cold months


School is starting, albeit remotely or hybrid for the majority of the country. Many parents continue to work fully or partially from their new home offices. Moms and dads need help juggling the family’s schedule and not succumbing to the ease of serving junk food. The dairy industry is well poised to provide nutritious and delicious assistance. And, the Dietary Guidelines confirm the importance of dairy in the diet, even as early as six months. 

It is likely too late to innovate with fall flavors, but now’s the time to think December, January and February. It will likely be a long winter with COVID-19 hanging over us. 

Creamer, milk, ice cream and yogurt all provide an easy canvas for flavor innovation. Limited-edition and seasonal products entice consumers to purchase. They put a smile on their face and add a little excitement during these uncertain times. 

Even before COVID-19, creamers were a hot category. And now, coffee and tea drinkers are trying to replicate that café experience in their homes. 

According to Packaged Facts’ proprietary consumer research, millennials are both avid consumers and judicious shoppers when it comes to coffee creamers. They are significantly more likely than average to use commercial packaged creamers, non-dairy cream substitutes, dairy beverages and plant-based dairy alternatives in their coffee.  

Additionally, product innovation in liquid creamers through the introduction of new flavors has boosted popularity among younger coffee consumers, according to IBIS World, New York. The research firm projects the creamer category to continue its healthy growth trajectory as in-home coffee and tea consumption increases. Strong growth is expected from non-dairy concepts, reflective of the growing number of consumers who are eliminating or reducing dairy and animal-based products from their diet. We all know dairy creamer tastes better so let’s give them delicious options.   

The popularity of the keto diet has been a major contributor to the popularity of creamer. The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. By eating a lot of fat and very few carbohydrates, the body is forced into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This is when the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. The liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, with the latter traveling to the brain and fueling the body, the traditional role of glucose obtained from carbohydrates. Burning ketones in place of glucose is associated with weight loss, reduced inflammation, sustained energy and more. 

Value-added creamers designed specifically for keto dieters may include medium chain triglyceride fats. These are inherently concentrated in milkfat and coconut oil and are well recognized for assisting the body with breaking down fat.  

Many dairies are now rolling out their fall-flavored creamers, namely pumpkin something. There’s activity in yogurt and ice cream, too. 

Chobani, for example, has stepped up its pumpkin spice game this fall. The company is bringing back two pumpkin-flavored foods that it has sold seasonally in the past: Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Flip yogurt and Pumpkin Spice Greek yogurt. Both will retail in packs of four. 

The company continues to expand outside the yogurt aisle. This year Chobani will offer two new pumpkin spice coffee creamers. One is made out of cream. The other is organic oats. Chobani began selling four flavors of coffee cream earlier in the year. 

Danone North America is rolling out three-limited edition fall-flavored yogurts. The Light & Fit brand has a four-pack of 5.3-ounce cups, with two cups of Pumpkin Pie and two cups of Toasted Marshmallow Greek nonfat yogurts. The Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie flavor is also available as a single serve. The Oikos brand now includes a Greek Pumpkin Pie flavor, with each 5.3-ounce cup having 11 grams of protein.
The Danone and Diageo partnership is growing the Bailey’s dairy creamer line with Peppermint Bark. 

Danone also has a number of non-dairy seasonal offerings. Under the Silk brand there’s sugar-free Silk Almond Unsweet Pumpkin Spice Creamer and Silk Almond Hint of Pumpkin Spice Beverage. International Delight has Zero Sugar Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer. In the freezer, there’s new So Delicious Dairy Free Caramel Apple Crumble Oatmilk Frozen Dessert.

Alden’s Organic is taking the holidays to a whole new level with the launch of two limited edition ice creams, Peppermint Twist and Pumpkin Cheesecake. This year the brand is pairing rich cheesecake ice cream with its classic pumpkin and adding peppermint candy pieces to its organic peppermint bark ice cream. These playful twists are intended to spark a good time, according to the company.   

For the first time ever, the brand is also expanding the seasonal line to include novelties. “Novelties have become a core part of the Alden’s business and it’s rare to find seasonal varieties,” says President and CEO Eric Eddings. “While our sqrounds are perfect for sharing, we also wanted to create crave-worthy snackable options that we knew would stand out on shelf.”  
Nestle continues to grow its Natural Bliss creamer line, which boasts being made with only a few simple ingredients: milk, cream, sugar and natural flavor. Whipped Buttercream recently joined the full-year lineup. Limited-edition Pumpkin Spice is rolling out now. 

Here are some flavored milk concepts to ponder:

  • Ready-to-drink hot cocoa-flavored milk, maybe even single-serve in a microwavable carton
  • Single-serve bottles of flavored milk adorned in shrink-sleeve labels featuring collectable characters, maybe teachers---bring the classroom to the kitchen table
  • Milk flavors: art class unicorn (blue raspberry), mathematical magic (orange marshmallow) and gym games (banana) 
Dietary Guidelines are Good for Dairy
The release of the scientific report of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has brought predictable criticism from dairy’s detractors, annoyed that a high-nutrient food they dislike for various, easy-to-debunk reasons provides important benefits throughout life and offers essential nutrients Americans otherwise lack without it.  

The committee’s scientific report, which was open for public comment through August 13, is explicit about dairy’s benefits. The panel report also provides a road map showing what the next dietary guidelines panel needs to see to emphasize dairy’s dietary benefits even further. 

Some highlights from the 835-page report released last month are:
  • Dairy is recommended for consumption within all three healthy eating patterns featured in the report, with three servings per day recommended in the Healthy U.S. style eating pattern and Healthy Vegetarian Style patterns and two servings per day in the Healthy-Mediterranean pattern;
  • Americans need more dairy in their diets, as 88% of them fall short of the panel’s recommendations. That includes 79% of 9 to 13-year-olds, who rely heavily on the school-lunch program to meet nutritional needs; 
  • The committee recognized milk as a nutrient-rich beverage that contributes positively to under-consumed nutrients, including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A and D, and others; 
  • Low-fat and nonfat dairy foods are recommended as nutrient-dense building blocks of a healthy diet; and, 
  • In the committee’s first-ever recommendations for birth through 24 months, yogurt and cheese are recognized as complementary feeding options for infants ages 6 to 12 months, and dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) are included in healthy eating patterns for toddlers 12 to 24 months. 

The report, which the federal government will use when it sets its official Dietary Guidelines for Americans later this year, could have gone even further. Despite mounting evidence of the neutral to beneficial health impact of milkfat, the committee did not fully address the issue. This is disappointing, but the report does still takes a step in the right direction by laying groundwork for dairy’s health benefits to be recognized even more fully in the next dietary guidelines. 

Tucked on page 791 is a recommendation to: Examine the effects of different food sources of saturated fats, including animal (e.g., butter, lard, etc.) and plant (e.g., palm vs. coconut oils) sources, different food matrices that encompass saturated fats (e.g., saturated fats in cheese vs. yogurt) and different production techniques (e.g., refined deodorized bleached vs. virgin coconut oil) on health outcomes. 

What does this mean? Recent studies showing that dairy fats may be higher-quality and more beneficial than other types of fats are intriguing, but more of them are needed to upend at least five decades of conventional wisdom. That’s the kind of statement from which nutrition scientists can take their cues. It sends a strong signal to them and to government officials that it is time for the long-overdue re-evaluation of whole milk that’s needed to boost healthy diets. 

Good things are going dairy’s way. Higher retail sales, along with a greater appreciation of dairy farmers and their cooperatives in a time of crisis, are reasons to be upbeat despite today’s challenges. Get creative to ensure moms and dads are serving dairy foods to their new norm family, school and work schedule.

Need technical guidance on frozen dessert innovation? Register for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s annual Frozen Dessert Center Technical Conference. Presentations will be available online and on-demand from October 19 to 28 with a live Q&A session on October 28.
For more information, link HERE.

Need assistance with sugar reduction? Plan to attend the virtual “REFORMULATE: Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies” conference on September 9. This event has a faculty of scientists and industry experts who will explore next-generation, natural sugar reduction-enabling technologies and ingredients. The goal is to connect with R&D decision-makers across food and beverage to provide actionable insights and approaches to successfully reformulate clean-label, consumer-accepted, taste-first, better-for-you, low- and no-sugar food and beverage products. This event will explore future trends, changing consumer priorities alongside technical, formulation and manufacturing considerations to inform the future of your sugar reduction R&D beyond the use of traditional sweeteners.

Whether you have a product in the market to reformulate or are looking to launch into the growing low- and no-sugar, better-for-you market, this meeting will equip you with the information and partnerships to succeed.

Why This is an Unmissable Event:

  • Discover the changing consumer trends reshaping the food and beverage industry, and identify the actions needed to positively align your products with future consumer purchasing patterns to gain market share and protect the sustainability of future earnings.
  • Determine how to effectively integrate a low- and no-sugar strategy into your current business model by developing a sustainable portfolio and communicating this with the consumer.
  • Navigate and overcome the formulation and manufacturing challenges that can arise when replacing sugar to ensure your products do not compromise on taste, function, stability or caloric density. 
  • Discuss next-generation sugar processing technologies including physical, chemical, enzymatic and microbial methods, to reduce the sugar content of your food and beverage products, beyond the use of traditional sweeteners.
  • Explore the cutting-edge scientific research in the field of sugar consumption and metabolism to inform your future R&D decisions.

Access the full event guide HERE for all details on the agenda.

This conference is being produced by Hanson Wade.

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