Friday, September 18, 2020

got keto?


This week General Mills officially launched :ratio, a keto-friendly product line that marks the company’s first keto-focused concept. Loyal Daily Dose of Dairy subscribers were introduced to this product back on August 24. The new line consists of yogurt cultured dairy snacks and crunchy bars. The products are designed to appeal to the growing number of consumers who are looking for ways to cut back on sugar and carbohydrates through better-for-you alternatives to existing preferences.

There’s no arguing, the pandemic changed the way consumers shop, cook and eat. Clean ingredients are the new baseline and individualized eating approaches are the new standard for today’s shoppers, according to the 2020 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, a report produced by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Washington, D.C., in collaboration with The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. Shoppers are reevaluating their purchase criteria and product assortment needs. They have a sharper focus on health, a heightened awareness of the environmental consequences of consumption and a desire for a deeper connection to food, according to the study.  

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently published its 2020 Food & Health Survey, which was conducted between April 8 and April 16, about one month into the COVID-19 mayhem. The survey showed that 85% of Americans have made at least some change in the foods they eat or how they prepare food. 

Interestingly, the number of people actively following a diet is up significantly in comparison to 2019: 43% in 2020 versus 8% in 2019 and 36% in 2018. (I think this is because diet is one of the few things we can control during these uncertain times.) Many of these diets are teaching consumers that not all proteins, fats and carbohydrates are alike. They are becoming more mindful of the composition of foods. 

The IFIC survey showed intermittent fasting (10%) is the most popular diet regime, followed by clean eating (9%), ketogenic or high-fat (8%), and low-carb (7%). The top motivators for new diets are losing weight (47%), feeling better and having more energy (40%), improving physical appearance (39%), protecting long-term health and preventing future health concerns (37%) and preventing weight gain (36%). (I doubt anyone realized it is also to feel in control. After all, the desire for control is a cause of many eating disorders.)

The keto diet is approximately 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. It is a weight-loss regime rather than a long-term lifestyle eating approach, as it does not provide the body with adequate, balanced nutrition. However, foods labeled keto friendly also appeal to consumers who are limiting sugar and carbohydrate intake, as General Mills points out in :ratio.    

The keto weight-loss regime is all about eating a lot of fat and very few carbohydrates. This forces the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis, which 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. 

All of this focus on keto diets and lifestyles is fueling innovation in the ketogenic products category, which is predicted to grow 5.5% through 2027, according to The Insight Partners, New York. There has never been a better time to either start up a keto food brand or for existing brands to expand their product offerings to include healthy, low-carb food alternatives.

The latter is where General Mills fits in with :ratio yogurt cultured dairy snacks. Using carefully selected ingredients, a 150-gram cup contains 200 calories, 15 grams of both fat and protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates and only 1 gram of inherent sugar. The primary components of the dairy snacks are ultra-filtered nonfat milk, milk, milk fat and avocado oil. The addition of non-dairy fat prevents the product from being called yogurt, per the U.S. standard of identify for yogurt. The product, however, is cultured with yogurt cultures (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus). Thus, the product is described as “flavored yogurt cultured dairy snack.” The product comes in five flavors--Black Cherry, Coconut, Mango, Strawberry and Vanilla—and is colored and flavored with natural ingredients. It is sweetened, however, with the high-intensity artificial sweetener sucralose.

“In launching :ratio’s keto-friendly products, we want to ensure that convenient, delicious snack options are available for various lifestyles and dietary choices,” says Tsubasa Tanaka, director of marketing at General Mills. “No matter what individual goals are, we hope :ratio’s crunchy bars and dairy snacks can be an enjoyable snack swap that people look forward to and feel good about reaching for while working towards their goals.”

The Hain Celestial Group wants in on the keto trend. The company now offers The Greek Gods Less Sugar Greek-style yogurt. Each 4.5-ounce cup contains 140 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 to 7 grams of sugar (2 grams are “added sugars”) and 6 grams of protein. The yogurt contains seven different live and active cultures, including probiotics. Formulations include milk protein isolate for extra protein. Lactase enzyme renders the product lactose free and also assists with sweetness. A touch of cane sugar rounds it out. The yogurt comes in Black Cherry, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla varieties.

Peak was the forerunner in the keto yogurt category. Introduced in 2017, Peak Yogurt is described as a triple cream yogurt, as it contains 17% milkfat. The cream-on-top yogurt is rich, creamy and satiating, so it doesn’t require sugar or other additives to satisfy and fuel the mind and body, according to the company. The company sources organic milk and cream from three family-owned organic dairies in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The cows spend more than 150 days per year grazing on fresh pasture grasses. A 5-ounce cup of the Plain unsweetened variety contains 270 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and a mere 4 grams of total carbohydrates (solely from inherent lactose).

The two flavored options are Strawberry and Vanilla. They are low-carb and “keto-ish” with 260 or 270 calories, 21 to 22 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 10 to 11 grams of sugar. The latter comes from the inherent lactose as well some added cane sugar.

About a year ago, Beyond Better Foods introduced the Enlightened Keto Collection of ice cream pints and bars. The no-added-sugar pint flavors are: Butter Pecan, Chocolate Glazed Donut, Coffee and Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Fudge and Red Velvet. The no-sugar-added novelty bar flavors are: Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow Peanut Butter, Mint Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. One serving of any variety contains less than 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of total net carbs. To achieve this, the products are sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol, like the brand’s original lineup, and rely on soluble corn fiber, which delivers 2 grams of fiber per half-cup serving. A half-cup serving of the pints contains 170 to 200 calories, 16 to 18 grams of fat and 2 to 4 grams of protein, depending on flavor. To achieve the higher fat levels, the formulation relies on cream and egg yolks.

The company recently added two limited-edition seasonal flavors as part of its Keto Fall Collection. In collaboration with Delish, the company now offers Peppermint Brownie (red and green peppermint ice cream with gluten-free brownie dough and chocolate chips) and Pumpkin Cheesecake (pumpkin cheesecake ice cream with a cream cheese swirl). 

In early 2019, Killer Creamery introduced Keto Ice Cream pints. Starting with a base of cream and egg yolks, medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is added to increase the fat content to 14 to 15 grams per half-cup serving, depending on variety. The company recently reformulated the product, touting its “New Killer recipe. Now creamier than ever.” Milk protein isolate boosts protein content to 3 to 4 grams of protein per serving. There’s no added sugar. Allulose, erythritol and stevia, along with some soluble corn fiber, keeps sugar content at 0 grams, with 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving. The product made its debut last year in six varieties--Brownie Points, Caramel Back, Chilla in Vanilla, Jam Session (raspberries and dark chocolate chips), No Judge Mint and Peanut Blubber—and two more were added this year. They are: Got Buns (cinnamon bun) and Main Squeeze (lemon poppyseed). 

Mammoth Creameries also rolled out Keto Frozen Custard last year. The super-high-fat product made its debut in Chocolate Peanut Butter and Vanilla Bean varieties. Chocolate and Lemon Buttercream joined the lineup soon after. The primary ingredients are heavy cream, grass-fed butter, egg yolks and xylitol. A half-cup serving contains 25 to 26 grams fat, 1 to 2 grams total sugar, 5 to 6 grams sugar alcohol and 2 to 3 grams of protein, depending on flavor. The product makes rBST-free, cage-free, grass-fed, no-added-sugar and no-gum claims.

The Keto Pint line made its debut at the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show in the Incubator Village. The line rolled out in five flavors--Butter Coffee, Chocolate, Mint Chip, Peanut Butter Cup and Sea Salt Caramel—with a half-cup serving containing 140 to 160 calories, 12 to 14 grams of fat, 2 to 4 grams of fiber, 3 to 5 grams of protein and no added sugars. This composition is possible through the use of organic cream and whole milk, milk protein concentrate, whole egg, erythritol, chicory root fiber, monk fruit extract, stevia extract and tapioca fiber. The company recently added three varieties of frozen novelty bars. They are chocolate-covered Caramel, Mint Chip and Peanut Butter Cup.

Earlier this year, SlimFast, the 40-plus years old weight loss brand, added 21 new products to its SlimFast Keto lineup, including dairy-based ready-to-drink meal replacement shakes, as well as meal replacement bars, snacks and shake mixes. The Meal Shakes To-Go shelf-stable beverage line comes in three flavors: Creamy Milk Chocolate, Creamy Mocha Latte and Vanilla Cream. Each 11-ounce bottle contains 180 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of total sugars, with no added sugars. The beverages are sweetened with sucralose. The beverages are also fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals, truly making them a meal replacement. The protein comes from milk protein concentrate while all of the fat comes from MCT oil.

The SlimFast Keto line was one of the 2019 New Product Pacesetters, as identified by IRI in June 2020. The brand had $76.2 million in sales its first year in the market. 

Kaffi Icelandic Protein Coffee is a new range of refrigerated coffee milks from Smari Inc. The lineup includes Keto Latte, which has 60% of calories coming from fat, 35% from protein and 5% from net carbs. The 8-ounce bottle contains 110 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar and 10 grams of protein. The perishable beverage provides as much caffeine as almost 2 cups of coffee (150 milligrams). It is made with coffee, cream, milk protein concentrate, monk fruit extract and organic caffeine.

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse Farms now offers ready-to-drink perishable Bolthouse Farms Protein Keto in Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee and Matcha varieties. The addition of milk protein isolate allows each 15.2-ounce bottle to provide 15 grams of dairy protein. The entire bottle contains 280 calories, 22 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram sugar.  

The keto diet encourages eating products derived from grass-fed animals, with a core staple for many keto enthusiasts being grass-fed butter and grass-fed ghee. That’s because the fatty acid profile of grass-fed dairy is said to better assist with weight loss. 
That’s what led to the trend in grass-fed butter coffee, which Bulletproof is the leader. The line debuted in 2017 and includes a collagen-enhanced cold brew. Like the regular Mocha, Original and Vanilla varieties, the collagen variety is made with grass-fed butter and brain octane oil (a proprietary MCT oil). It also includes 15 milligrams of collagen. 

Omega Natural Cacao Flavored Power Creamer is made with grass-fed ghee, coconut oil and MCT oil. It is free from lactose, casein, soy, gluten, carbohydrates and sweeteners. In general, all unsweetened dairy creamer is keto friendly. In fact, many keto dieters will drink a glass of creamer much like one has a glass of milk. 

At the end of 2019, Keto and Co., introduced Sated Ready-to-Drink, a nutritionally complete ketogenic meal-in-a-bottle. The company’s mix-it-yourself version has a been a bestselling keto shake since 2014, and customers have been consistently asking for a ready-to-drink option, according to the company. In August 2018, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to make Sated Ready-to-Drink a reality. That campaign raised more than $200K during prelaunch, making it the 4th largest food product Kickstarter at the time. Sated Ready-to-Drink is available in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors. 

The 11-ounce shelf-stable packages are enhanced 27 essential vitamins and minerals, prebiotic fiber for gut health, 18 grams of protein from milk protein isolate and essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The drink is naturally sweetened with a blend of monk fruit, fiber and erythritol to prevent spikes in blood sugar, says the company. 

got keto? Now’s the time. 

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