Friday, October 30, 2020

Impossible Milk Is Impossible: Real Dairy Delivers on Taste, Price, and Diet and Health Considerations


Boo! Happy Halloween. Private-label retailer Aldi is ready for Halloween. This new frozen jack-o-lantern-shaped pizza is topped with butternut squash sauce, cheddar, mozzarella and mascarpone cheese. It’s delicious! 

There’s also a range of spooky cheeses. The Freaky Franken is a mild Derby cheese infused with dried sage. Scary Pumpkin Spice is a pumpkin-shaped Wensleydale seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. No Rest for the Wicked is a sweet, strawberry, prosecco-infused Wensleydale cheese. Bat Knit Crazy Cheddar is aged cheese wrapped in black wax.

To read more about “Holiday-themed offerings get extreme,” link HERE to an article and slideshow I wrote for Food Business News this week. 

This has been one heck of a week for sensationalized headlines, and I anticipate they will ramp up before calming down. My advice: avoid the news, make sure you vote, wear a mask and innovate with real dairy. It is impossible to efficiently and effectively feed humans without the nutrients found in real dairy foods.  

A studied published in the November 2020 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science shows that removal of dairy cattle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) would be difficult to do without reducing the supply of the most limiting nutrients to the population. In other words, humans need the nutrients dairy cattle provide. 

Questions regarding the balance between the contribution to human nutrition and the environmental impact of livestock food products rarely evaluate specific species or how to accomplish the recommended depopulation. The objective of this study was to assess current contributions of the U.S. dairy industry to the supply of nutrients and environmental impact, characterize potential impacts of alternative land use for land previously used for crops for dairy cattle, and evaluate the impacts of these approaches on U.S. dairy herd depopulation. 

The researchers from the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., and the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ARS, Madison, Wisc., modeled three scenarios to reflect different sets of assumptions for how and why to remove dairy cattle from the U.S. food production system coupled with four land-use strategies for the potential newly available land previously cropped for dairy feed. Scenarios also differed in assumptions of how to repurpose land previously used to grow grain for dairy cows. 

The current system provides sufficient fluid milk to meet the annual energy, protein and calcium requirements of 71.2, 169, and 254 million people, respectively. Vitamins supplied by dairy products also make up a high proportion of total domestic supplies from foods, with dairy providing 39% of the vitamin A, 54% of the vitamin D, 47% of the riboflavin, 57% of the vitamin B12, and 29% of the choline available for human consumption in the U.S. 

Retiring (maintaining animals without milk harvesting) dairy cattle under their current management resulted in no change in absolute GHGE relative to the current production system. Both depopulation and retirement to pasture resulted in modest reductions (6.8% to 12.0%) in GHGE relative to the current agricultural system. Most dairy cow removal scenarios reduced availability of essential micronutrients such as α-linolenic acid, calcium, and vitamins A, D, B12, and choline. Those removal scenarios that did not reduce micronutrient availability also did not improve GHGE relative to the current production system. These results suggest that removal of dairy cattle to reduce GHGE without reducing the supply of the most limiting nutrients to the population would be difficult.

And that’s why “Impossible Milk” is impossible.  

To read the study, link HERE.

It’s not surprising that the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) quickly got loud after all the press “Impossible” was getting this week. On October 29, NMPF asked FDA’s ombudsman to ensure that rules are properly enforced regarding the labeling of milk.  

“Allowing unlawfully labeled ‘plant-based’ imitation dairy foods to proliferate poses an immediate and growing risk to public health; it is a clear dereliction of the FDA’s duty to enforce federal law and agency regulations,” wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The FDA’s Office of the Ombudsman must intervene to break the bureaucratic logjam that is adversely affecting consumers. Doing so would fit squarely within the Office’s own mission to ensure even-handed application of FDA policy and procedures.” 

The FDA ombudsman, based in the agency commissioner’s office, “serves as a neutral and independent resource for members of FDA-regulated industries when they experience problems with the regulatory process.” The NMPF is urging the ombudsman’s office to take appropriate action to remedy the FDA’s lax approach to enforcing its own rules on the use of dairy terms on products containing no dairy ingredients, which have proven impacts on public health, a new phase of advocacy brought about by the agency’s regrettable inaction. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have offered evidence of nutritional deficiencies caused by confusion over the contents of plant-based versus dairy beverages.  

The good news is that smart consumers recognize the value of real dairy foods, especially during these uncertain times and with many having to watch their grocery spending. The word on the street is that stocking up is starting again, and this will likely have a positive impact on retail dairy sales. 

For the 52-week period ended Sept. 6, 2020, as compared to the same period a year ago, IRI retail volume sales data are: 

  • Butter/Butter Blends: +27.9%
  • Cheese +14.6% 
  • Cottage Cheese: +4.0% 
  • Cream: +22.7%
  • Half & Half: +8.3% 
  • Ice Cream/Sherbet: +9.5%
  • Milk +2.9% 
  • Sour Cream: +16.1%
  • Yogurt +3.6% 

Dairy foods are thriving because they taste great, are price competitively and are good for health. These are the three things consumers are most concerned with when exploring trendy new foods, according to the just-released Kearney’s 2020 Food Trends Survey. This is why it is paramount that dairy foods processors continue to innovate during these uncertain times. 

For more than a century, food manufacturers and retailers have assumed consumers were anxious to sample and adopt the hottest new food trends, according to the report’s authors. It turns out the strongest foundation a new food trend can have is to be grounded in the basics, starting with taste. This is the primary standard consumers use to determine the new food trends to try and the new foods they will or will not add to their regular diets. The research also looked at how COVID-19 has affected purchase patterns across income brackets. 

The top-three selection criteria cited by the 1,000 consumers surveyed for Kearney’s 2020 Food Trends Survey were, in order: taste, price, and diet and health considerations. Asked why they might try a new food trend, 78% of respondents mentioned taste, 61% said price and 55% cited diet and health concerns. The findings were even more conclusive when asked what it would take for them to incorporate a new food trend into their regular meal schedules. Eighty seven percent reported it would be dependent on taste, 64% answered price and 59% mentioned diet and health issues.

“The real message here is that successful new products develop from communities of consumers with evolving tastes and preferences,” says Katie Thomas, leader of the Kearney Consumer Institute and the study’s co-author. “Food manufacturers and retailers can take cues from what consumers actually like, need, and what really motivates everyday purchase behavior, rather than being overly reactive to a quick hit flavor.” 

Steven Cunix, manager in Kearney’s Consumer practice and the study’s other co-author, says, “It’s always said that ‘new products are the lifeblood of the food industry,’ and that may be true, but our survey suggests that the reason pumpkin spice products remain perennially popular, while some ‘hot’ foods like celery water might not be remembered three months from now, is simple: consumers prefer the taste of pumpkin spice over celery.”

The research also showed that consumers are overwhelmingly willing to “test the waters,” with 88% of respondents reporting that they try at least one new food trend per year and 45% stating that they’re willing to pay a premium for new items.

The 2020 Food Trends Survey also found that recommendations and advertising attracted respondents to new food trends, but were less effective when it came to consumers’ decisions to add trending items to their regular diets.

As to the other reasons consumers would or would not try new products, overall 39% of respondents identified price as the number-one reason for passing on trends. Price was the primary deterrent in 43% of respondent households with incomes under $100,000, versus 29% in households with incomes over $100,000.  

Fifty-five percent of respondents identified diet/health as one of the top-three reasons for not trying new food trends, with 24% citing it as their main reason. Respondents in higher-income households were more deterred by unhealthy products. Diet and health issues were cited as one of the top-three reasons for not trying new trends by 63% of respondents earning more than $200K annually and by 53% of respondents with annual incomes under $25,000. Heath concerns were the number-one reason for not trying a new product for 26% of respondents ages 18 to 24, compared to only 20% of respondents age 65 or older.

Perhaps as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, respondents identified availability as the fourth most important factor in product selection. Forty percent identified availability as one of the top-three reasons for not trying new food trends and 12% choosing availability as their number-one reason. Older respondents and those in households without kids at home saw availability as a larger issue.

For a full copy of the report, link HERE.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Dairy Foods Innovation 2021: Breaking Down Whole Foods’ Forecasts to Relevant Dairy Concepts


Source: Whole Foods Market

By now you have likely read a summary of Whole Foods Market’s top-10 anticipated food trends for 2021. It was quite disheartening for the company to not include any dairy foods innovations in its supplied photo of new products. From specialty to cheese to organic milk to clean-label ice cream, real dairy is big business for Whole Foods. 

The is the retailer’s sixth annual trends predictions, and while the scope is definitely limited because it stays in the natural and organic foods space, the general forecast is usually on target. It just needs some deciphering and needs to be brought back to the real world and everyday folks who cannot afford to shop for staples at Whole Foods. I’m here to do that. 

For some background on the Whole Foods forecast, each year a Trends Council of more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts, compile trend predictions based on decades of experience and expertise in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and being on the frontlines with emerging and existing brands. Significantly influenced by the state of the food industry, the 2021 trends report reveals some of the early ways the food industry is adapting and innovating in response to COVID-19 for a post-pandemic food world.

Here are Whole Foods Market’s 10 predictions for 2021 in italics. Each one if followed by opportunities for dairy foods processors based on consumer behaviors, current innovations and the anticipated marketplace. 


The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles, and that trend will accelerate in 2021. That means superfoods, probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system. For obvious reasons, people want this pronto.

Fermented dairy foods are one of the original ways to consume probiotics. Step up your efforts and educate consumers on why it makes sense to consume these beneficial bacteria and other superfood ingredients through dairy. Also, do not give shoppers any excuse to dismiss these dairy foods. Make them free from lactose and low in sugar, preferably no added sugar. 

Boston-based Pillars Yogurt is building on its promise to deliver high-protein, pre-and-probiotic-rich, zero-added-sugar options to health-conscious consumers with the launch of 32-ounce multi-serve Drinkable Greek Yogurts. This product addition extends the four-year-old brand’s total portfolio from six items to 10, and introduces new flavors. Available in Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Plain and Raspberry, the suggested retail price is $4.99 to $5.49.

“Wellness is now mainstream. Consumers are gravitating to choices to help them build a healthier lifestyle for their families. More people are asking ‘what does this food or drink do for me?’ We think Pillars is a great answer,” says Eric Bonin, founder and CEO. “Consumers have gotten savvier to the benefits of increased protein and reduced sugar, but they will never sacrifice on taste. So, we always have to nail that Pillar first!

“Our foray into multi-serve and new flavors brings our brand loyalists and new fans alike a different kind of convenience from our current grab-and-go 12-ounce drinkables,” says Bonin. “The new size is a kitchen staple to enjoy sharing, snacking and in healthy recipes. At a time when more people at home, we’re excited to offer a product that the whole family can enjoy any time of day.”

An 8-ounce serving of Pillars Drinkable Greek Yogurt contains 70 calories, 15 grams of protein, only 3 grams of naturally occurring sugar (3 grams net carbs), 0 grams of fat and is a good source of fiber. All of Pillars drinkable yogurt options are non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher certified and are exclusively sweetened with organic natural flavor and organic stevia. Pillars also features proprietary prebiotic fiber, which helps stimulate the gut and microbiome to better absorb the probiotic yogurt cultures.

This past summer, Trimona introduced Superfood Yogurts. The new organic whole milk line comes in three varieties, all loaded with superfood ingredients. They are: Protect Acai + Beets (contains acai, maca root, aronia, beetroot and lucuma, a blend to protect your body and your soul), Refresh Matcha + Maca (contains matcha tea, maca, lucuma, spirulina and chlorella, a blend to refresh your memory and your day) and Revive Turmeric + Ginger (contains maca, lucuma, mesquite, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper, a blend to revive your creativity and your spirit).

Each Trimona Superfood Yogurt cup contains billions of probiotic cultures and no added sugar. A 5-ounce cup contains 110 calories, 6 to 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of inherent sugar. The yogurt is sweetened with monkfruit.

“We have been working on these products for almost two years and are delighted with the result. Our products combine the healthy benefits of our non-strained, grass-fed organic yogurt and superfoods,” says Atanas Valev, founder. “We’d like to think of our new line as Yogurt 2.0. It is arguably the healthiest yogurt snack in the market. It is a truly innovative line of products that will bring incremental sales to the yogurt isle.”

The line debuted at Whole Foods Market among other East Coast stores. The suggested retail price is $1.79 per 5-ounce single-serve cup.


With more people working from home, the most important meal is getting the attention it deserves, not just on weekends, but every day. There’s a whole new lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites and even “eggs” made from mung beans.

Hmm, may I remind Whole Foods that cereal and milk is one of the easiest and nutritious breakfasts. But I get it, sometimes shoppers need things spelled out for them. Ready-to-eat overnight-style oats with milk or yogurt are a simple meal solution for that early morning zoom call.   

This summer, Nomadic Dairy grew its Breakfast Bircher line in the U.K. with Chocolate & Vanilla Breakfast Bircher, which joins existing Apple & Cinnamon and Blueberry flavors. The new variant features rolled oats soaked in Nomadic’s live yogurt and then combined with vanilla and chocolate. Based in Ireland, Nomadic also offers a range of Yogurt & Oat Clusters, as well as Thick & Creamy Yogurts and Kefirs.

“With the breakfast occasion being the key contributor to growth in the yogurt category, this new flavor will help drive both value and volume for retailers, crucial at this difficult time,” says Tom Price, head of marketing and innovation. “In addition, while bircher has traditionally been a breakfast option, we’re confident we can widen its usage beyond just like yogurt. That means mid-morning and afternoon snacking, where it’s a nourishing choice to keep you going through the day.”

The Collective introduced Brekkie to the U.K. marketplace. The dual compartment package features unsweetened yogurt combined with fruity compote on one side and ancient grain granola in the other. The granola mix includes puffed buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and linseeds. The 135-gram packs come in three flavors: Mango, Passion Fruit and Raspberry.

At the beginning of 2020, Land O’Lakes offered limited-edition Kozy Shack Creamery Oats. Reduced-fat milk and steel-cut oats are the main ingredients in this new line of microwavable single-serve oatmeal cups. Made with simple ingredients, the product also contains cane sugar, eggs and natural flavors. The gluten-free product comes in three varieties: Cinnamon, Maple & Brown Sugar, and Original Recipe. The 7-ounce cups are intended to be microwaved for about 1 minute prior to serving. One serving contains 200 to 210 calories, 4 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 15 to 19 grams of total sugars, and 6 to 7 grams of protein.


With more time in the kitchen, home chefs are looking for hot, new takes on pantry staples. Pasta, sauces, spices, the basics will never be boring again. Get ready for reimagined classics like hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and “meaty” vegan soup.

Sounds to me like the time is right to heat up the dips and dairy condiments space, even cultured dairy and some ice creams concepts can benefits from a little spice. Lakeview Farms is rolling out Rojo’s Mexican Style Street Corn Dip to its lineup of restaurant and homestyle salsas and dips. Made with a blend of yellow corn, roasted corn, green chilis, cheddar and cotija cheeses, Rojo’s newest dip comes in a 12-ounce microwaveable container and has no artificial flavors or preservatives. 

Kemps introduced Bold Cottage Cheese back in April. The new product line is targeted to the male consumer looking for protein without sugar and is interested in strong, bold flavors. Bold Cottage Cheese comes in 7.3-ounce single-serve cups, much larger than most single-serve cups that range from 4 to 6 ounces. The four varieties are: Bacon Cheddar (with real bacon bits and cheddar cheese), Bacon Ranch (with real cheddar cheese and zesty ranch seasoning), Chipotle (with tangy, smoky chipotle seasoning) and Jalapeno Cheddar (with real cheddar cheese and jalapeno pepper bits). Each serving provides 210 to 230 calories, 9 to 10 grams of fat and 23 to 25 grams of protein. Whey protein concentrate helps reach that protein content.

A year ago, La Terra Fina spiced up the holidays with Cranberry & Jalapeno Dip & Spread. Starting with a cream cheese base, the dip/spread provides sweet heat described as a medium spice level. It made a great replacement to mayo in day-after-Thanksgiving turkey salad!


The love affair between humans and coffee burns way beyond a brewed pot of joe. That’s right, java is giving a jolt to all kinds of food. You can now get your coffee fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait.

Would you like some cream with your coffee? That’s right. Dairy and coffee are a match made in heaven. For that matter, dairy and tea also make a great couple. 
Re:THINK Ice Cream seeks to balance living a healthy lifestyle with the great taste and texture of an authentic, all-natural ice cream experience. One of the brand’s flavors is Coffee Hazelnut. The brand recently reformulated the line to now include collagen and lactose-free A2/A2 dairy. This tummy-friendly dairy ice cream is completely lactose and A1 protein-free, both of which are needed to avoid digestive discomfort in millions of consumers who respond adversely to dairy.
Collagen is the other extra. As one of the hottest supplements on the market today, collagen has many health benefits, such as improved skin elasticity, stronger hair and nails, and boosted metabolism, according to the company. Comparable to the original recipe, Re:THINK Ice Cream continues to be diabetic and keto-friendly, gluten-free, and only feature all-natural ingredients, including whey protein isolate, and no sugar alcohols on their ingredient label.

DD&B Solutions introduced Inotea Bubble Tea lattes this summer. The shelf-stable canned milk teas are made with either brewed black tea or matcha green tea powder and whole milk powder. For the boba spin, they include tapioca pearls, an innovation in the ready-to-drink tea space. The drinks come in 16.6-ounce cans in four varieties. They are: Brown Sugar, Honeydew, Matcha Green and Taro. A can contains 260 calories, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 42 grams of sugar, of which 35 grams are added sugars.


Thanks to some inspired culinary innovation, parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from. We’re talking portable, on-the-go squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds. Little eaters, big flavors.

Stonyfield was the forerunner in this space with YoBaby yogurt, first in cups and then in pouches. I can confirm the product has been in the market for more than 20 years, as I served it to my first-born at six months, and he just turned 21. There’s tons of innovation opportunity in this space. 

Danone North America is on board with its Horizon Organic Growing Years brand, which first made its debut in refrigerated milk and quickly grew into the shelf-stable, single-serve box space. Here’s a sneak peek: the brand is expanding into pouch yogurt. Look for it next week as a Daily Dose of Dairy. 

The Horizon Organic Growing Years milk is organic whole milk with specially selected nutrition for growing kids. The company partnered with pediatricians to identify key nutrients for ages 1 to 5, so every serving provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), choline, prebiotics and other key nutrients. This product was the first U.S. fluid milk introduction that speaks to the September 18, 2019, recommendation by leading medical and nutrition organizations that children between 1 and 5 years should only drink water and milk. To read more, link HERE.

Now the milk comes in 8-ounce shelf-stable prisma cartons, sold individually or in three packs. DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that supports brain and eye health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choline is an essential brain nutrient. It aids in the transport and synthesis of lipids (or fats), and it helps transport DHA throughout the body. Prebiotics are dietary fiber that feeds friendly gut bacteria. An 8-ounce serving of Growing Years milk contains 50 milligrams of DHA, 55 milligrams of choline and 1 gram of prebiotic chicory root fiber. Further, every 8-ounce serving of Growing Years milk is an excellent source of both calcium and vitamin D to support strong bones and teeth. And every serving has 8 grams of protein, too. Certified organic, Growing Years milk comes from pasture-raised cows that eat an organic, non-GMO diet and are never treated with antibiotics or added hormones. 


Peels and stems have come a long way from the compost bin. We’re seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste, help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient. Dig in, do good.

While this might sound challenging for dairy, it simply takes some effort and thinking out of the box. The Frozen Farmer, for example, uses fruits and vegetables in its made-from-scratch frozen desserts. The third-generation family farmers-- Kevin and Katey Evans—are chefs, and pitched their business on the March 27, 2020, edition of Shark Tank, where they received an investment offer to grow the business. Their farm serves more than 100 groceries with their homegrown produce; unfortunately, there’s lots of product that does not meet the grocery grade because of how it looks.

“More than 20% of the fruits and veggies in America are too ugly to make it off the farm and on the grocery store shelf. For farm families like mine, this means a major loss in profit,” says Katey. “Finally, one night we were kicking around ideas of how to make money on all this otherwise wasted fruit that tasted perfectly good, despite the way it looked and it came to us. We could make ice cream and sorbet with fresh fruit from the farm.”

The company now makes homemade superpremium ice cream, nice cream (a blend of ice cream and sorbet) and dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free sorbet. Their shop is located on Route 404, a prime hub to the Delaware and Maryland beaches. They also have a mobile food truck that caters off-site fairs, festivals, private events, parties and weddings. The Frozen Farmer currently wholesales its ice cream, nice cream and sorbet to more than a dozen different restaurants, shops and markets in Delaware and Maryland.

And I would like to remind you that ruminant animals such as cows are the original upcyclers. That’s because they eat plants that humans cannot, and they turn that waste into delicious and nutritious milk and meat. This example explains it all. 

A stalk of corn provides two to three cobs. Humans can only digest the kernels, and for that matter, not even all of the kernel. The fibrous outer shells of corn kernels pass through the gastrointestinal system undigested due to lack of the necessary digestive enzyme. The rest of that corn plant is useless to humans for energy; however, it’s a meal for ruminant animals such as cows. Cows effectively convert the nutrients in that stalk, husk and cob to meat and milk for human consumption. 


Slide over, olive oil. There’s a different crop of oils coming for that place in the skillet or salad dressing. At-home chefs are branching out with oils that each add their own unique flavor and properties. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils lend a delicious nutty flavor, while sunflower seed oil is hitting the shelves in a bunch of new products and is versatile enough to use at high temps or in salad dressing.

It’s time to revisit the fatty acids in milk and educate consumers about the benefits of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and other healthy fats. It all comes backs to the cow, as CLA is a naturally occurring component of ruminant milk fat and meat. The concentration of CLA in bovine milk is strongly influenced by diet of the cow.

Spruce Haven, an upstate New York dairy, is using a patented feed ingredient to increase the CLA content of milk by two to three times. This milk is used in its new shelf-stable whole milk cold-brew coffee Pursue Happiness Cowffee, a first-of-its-kind beverage that has been in development for nearly four years. One 11-ounce prisma pack provides 120 milligrams of CLA, a naturally occurring component of ruminant milk fat and meat. Consumption by humans is associated with lean-muscle development and fat burning. It also has cancer-fighting properties. The product contains 220 calories and provides 20 grams of protein. The formulation includes lactase, which breaks down the lactose and enhances inherent sweetness. It is only sweetened with 3 grams of pure cane sugar.


We tipped you off about hard seltzer bursting on the scene in 2018, and now alcoholic kombucha is making a strong flex on the beverage aisle. Hard kombucha checks all the boxes: It’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly and can be filled with live probiotic cultures. 

While this trend may be a stretch for dairy, innovators are trying to work with kombucha. Roar & Tonic, for example, launched the world’s first kombucha yoghurt to the Aussie marketplace this past April. The launch of Roar & Tonic’s kombucha yoghurt happened soon after the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, which had spurred a buying frenzy of all probiotic products.

“Roar & Tonic contains fifteen strains of live cultures including the Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 probiotic,” says Roar & Tonic creator Marina Shufrin. “We fast-tracked our Roar & Tonic range to make it available for people looking to stock up on healthy and refreshing dairy options. Our kombucha yoghurts bring something new and unique to dairy.”

Kombucha is the wildly popular fermented drink that’s been consumed for thousands of years. It’s an effervescent, ancient beverage made from either green or black tea mixed with bacteria or yeast. Kombucha contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria and many claim it can help fight several diseases. Roar & Tonic derives its name from the idea that you can have it all in life, as long as you maintain some balance. The “tonic” is the antidote to too much “roar.” The 160-gram single-serve cups come in four varieties: Ginger Lemon. Mango Hibiscus, Original Jasmine and Raspberry Lime.

And as far as the booze part of this trend goes, there are numerous boozy ice creams in the markets. There’s also hard lattes. 

Twelve5 Beverage Company just started rolling out Rebel Hard Coffee. The line is making its debut in three base flavors—(dairy-free) Cold Brew, Mocha Latte and Vanilla Latte—and seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte. Made with 100% arabica coffee, cream, other natural ingredients and alcohol, the shelf-stable 11-ounce canned beverages are sold as single cans, in four packs and in 12-pack cases. The lattes contain 5% alcohol by volume (ACV). The non-dairy Cold Brew is 4.2% alcohol by volume (ACV). 

Rebel packaging was designed to draw in consumers by communicating coffee, good flavor and delicious taste while invoking feelings of playfulness, excitement, energy and individualism. The swirls, splashes and dancing coffee beans direct the eye to the easy-to-read fonts and modern logo. According to market research conducted by the brand, hard coffee is poised to be the next trend in flavored malt beverages, with about 106 million consumers who drink alcohol and/or coffee having purchase interest in hard coffee. When asked why hard coffee was of interest, around 71% of consumers said it was something new and different to try, indicating a desire for variety.


You can chickpea anything. Yep, the time has come to think beyond hummus and falafel, and even chickpea pasta. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower, popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal. That’s garbanzo-bonkers.

Last year Stonyfield offered a snack pack containing a dip that combined Greek yogurt with hummus; however, the product is no longer in the market. Darling Foods offers Darling Pickle Dips, a line of refrigerated dips made from a cream cheese and white bean base. The base is blended with pickled vegetables, herbs and spices into four varieties. They are: Fiery Jalapeno & Roasted Tomato, Original Dill Pickle, Spicy Pickle and White Cheddar & Mustard.

The cream cheese gives the dips richness, while the pureed beans provide a slightly chunkier texture than most creamy dips. Each variety has some taste of dill pickle without being overwhelming. The dips were developed by two life-long friends--Sara Doherty and Britt Jungerberg—in their quest for something different and better-for-you in the premium dip category.


Jerky isn’t just for meat lovers anymore. Now all kinds of produce from mushrooms to jackfruit are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. The produce is dried at the peak freshness to preserve nutrients and yumminess. If that’s not enough, suppliers are literally spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.

OK, you got me Whole Foods, to my knowledge, milk or other dairy foods cannot be “jerkified.” But, cheese can be dehydrated, which I think is cousin to jerky. And dairy companies are making these shelf-stable snacks that deliver high-quality protein, something fruit and veggie jerky products lack.

Schuman Cheese, for example, just added another flavor to its Whisps Snacks line. New Hot & Spicy Cheese Crisps feature 100% cheddar cheese exclusively made for Whisps and premium spices and flavors. This snack fits into the Basics on Fire trend, too. 

“As the CEO of a cheese company, I’m well-known for my love of cheese, but most people don’t know my second favorite craving is all things spicy,” says Ilana Fischer. “This summer, we launched our first Whisps inspired by America’s favorite chip flavors—Nacho and Tangy Ranch--and after seeing the tremendous response to these new snacks, we knew we wanted to kick things up a notch. Hot & Spicy provides a cleaner, more delicious version of a flaming hot and spicy chip, and we’re thrilled to partner with Target on this exclusive flavor to introduce even more shoppers to the tastiest cheese crisps on the market.”

I bet Whole Foods is envious. Ok folks, go get busy!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Dairy Foods Trend Alert: Think Long Term and Be Part of the Regenerative Agriculture Movement

Today is World Food Day 2020. It marks the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in an exceptional moment as countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While there are more days than not when I cannot think about tomorrow because it stresses me out, it is essential that dairy foods manufacturers think ahead in order to provide nutrition for an anticipated population of 10 billion by 2050. Global warming is real and it’s impacting agriculture right before our eyes. Some regions are experiencing increased heat and drought, while others have flooding and large, damaging storms. Agricultural lands are at risk with both scenarios, which is why we must do our part to improve the ecosystem. It all comes down to the soil. 

Maple Hill Creamery recently sponsored a media viewing of the new documentary “Kiss The Ground” at a pop-up drive-in theater in Chicago. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film details how regenerative agriculture has the potential to balance the earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and feed the world. 

Dairy cows are an important part of the regenerative agriculture movement. Implementing regenerative practices on dairy farms requires a holistic approach to managing land, cows and manure.

I wrote “The Dirt on Soil and Why it Matters” this past week for Food Business News. I highly encourage you read my column HERE.

I also encourage you to watch “Kiss The Ground,” which is currently available on Netflix. At the very least, please view the trailer HERE.

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic, principles-based approach to farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystem and community resilience. These practices pull carbon from the air and store it in the soil and can help the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. Additionally, regenerative agriculture practices help to increase water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling and reduce soil erosion, which have been shown to positively impact the quality of nearby lakes, rivers and streams. These benefits can translate to farmers’ pocketbooks by ensuring that more nutrients stay in the field to be absorbed by plants rather than lost to wind or water erosion. Regenerative practices on dairy farms can look slightly different than row crop farms, specifically incorporating adaptive grazing on pastures and cropland, according to General Mills, the maker of Yoplait, Liberté and Mountain High yogurt products.

The company is active in this space. In June, General Mills announced the start of a three-year regenerative dairy pilot in Western Michigan, a key sourcing region for its fluid milk supply. This is the third regenerative agriculture pilot that the company has launched--and the first for its dairy ingredient supply--since making a commitment in 2019 to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030.

“In order for regenerative agriculture to be successful, it must first be economically viable for farmers as a lever to help build operational and financial resilience,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer at General Mills. “With this pilot, General Mills is committed to ensuring that the transition to regenerative practices will be beneficial to our dairy partners and enhance the overall health of their farms.”

Maple Hill Creamery is also committed. The company believes in communicating the message that livestock is paramount to the regenerative agriculture movement.

“Healthy soil is the cornerstone of everything we do,” said Carl Gerlach, CEO of Maple Hill. “We work tirelessly within out network of organic 100% grass-fed farmers to develop and implement practices that result in the regeneration of the land through the management of organic grass-fed cows.

“When managed in harmony with nature, grazing cows are one of the most effective tools on earth as far as igniting the life in the soil, which is the foundation of the carbon cycle,” he said. “We believe that 100% grass-fed organic dairy farming done right is the pinnacle of organic and leaves the soil better than we found it.”

This is one of my favorite examples to explain the role of ruminant animals in our food chain:

A stalk of corn provides two to three cobs. Humans can only digest the kernels, and for that matter, not even all of the kernel. The fibrous outer shells of corn kernels pass through the gastrointestinal system undigested due to lack of the necessary digestive enzyme. The rest of that corn plant is useless to humans for energy; however, it’s a meal for ruminant animals such as cows. Cows effectively convert the nutrients in that stalk, husk and cob to meat and milk for human consumption.

A new report from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) explains how for the last half century, U.S. animal agriculture has focused primarily on improving productivity, efficiency and throughput, resulting in increasing supplies of commodities that have helped assure a safe, abundant U.S. food supply and growing export markets. The report shows a pivotal shift in cultural and market expectations for animal protein, and four emerging trends where the industry can innovate. While the report focuses on meat, these trends are relevant to dairy cows as well. They present an opportunity for what I believe will be the next trending dietary lifestyle: the regenerative diet. 

“American consumers have benefitted from the consistent growth in productivity and efficiency, spending less of their disposable income than consumers in any other country on food,” said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “But we’ve reached an inflection point where engaged consumers, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders have new priorities and are asking whether attributes beyond productivity and efficiency deserver greater focus.” 

New trends are accelerating and gaining a foothold, according to members of the CFI Consumer Trusts Insights Council, a collaboration of consumer insights experts, social scientists, researchers and food industry consultants who analyze emerging trends and provide strategic guidance. Technology is front and center, according to the report. A new generation of consumers embraces technology, expects innovation and demands engagement.

“Niche start-ups are speaking the language of a younger demographic that has grown up with smart devices in their hands and in their kitchens,” said Kevin Ryan, founder of Malachite Strategy and a member of the council. “The generation raised on technology expects innovation and an opportunity to engage to ensure their voices are being heard.”   

The research identifies four major opportunities for the animal protein space as indicated by the maturity of demand in the marketplace. Demand for these categories has now moved into the mainstream.

  1. Fresh and high quality. A key opportunity is consumer desire for high-quality animal proteins.
  2. Stretching purchases. Consumers facing financial uncertainty are seeking ways to make protein last longer for their families, which means saving money and making fewer trips to the store. 
  3. Ethically Raised Animals. Consumers continue to express concern about supporting industrial scale farms but they don’t want to give up easy, affordable animal proteins. This means they want easy access and easy to prepare with a solid nutrition profile.  
“This is a great opportunity for dairy farmers to reassure consumers that dairy is part of a socially responsible and healthy diet,” Arnot told the Daily Dose of Dairy in an exclusive interview. “Consumers are looking for permission to believe that dairy farms care about food safety, the treatment of workers, the well-being of animals and the protection of our environment. Sharing dairy’s amazing story is a great way to provide that reassurance.”

        4. Plant-Based Alternatives. Consumers are conflicted. They aren’t impressed with the taste of many plant-based alternatives, even when they’re looking to reduce meat consumption. They prefer the taste and texture of real animal products, but plant-based alternatives are perceived by some as “better for me and better for the planet.” 

“Again, this is a terrific opportunity to tell the story of great-tasting, nutrient-dense dairy products and to link that with dairy’s impressive sustainability story, including the recent commitment to become ‘net-zero’ in carbon emissions,” Arnot said. “So much good work has been done, but there is still a perception that plant-based alternatives are better for the environment.”

It’s time to spread the message about cows and their role in regenerative agriculture. 

Consumers engaging on the topic of animal protein sit squarely in the driver’s seat as the nation continues to adapt to the evolving reality of the pandemic. Already, some innovators are actively working to meet their expectations with products that give consumers permission to enjoy animal protein, said Arnot. 

“Those who follow the lead of consumers, leverage these newly identified opportunities and address the increasing array of complex challenges without sacrificing efficiency will rise to the top as the likely winners,” he said. “And those committed to preserving the status quo will be left behind.”

Dairy products that give consumers permission to enjoy animal protein come in all shapes and sizes. Every single dairy food in the marketplace is inherently nutritious, have it be the protein, the calcium, the potassium or the essential fatty acids, to name a few nutrients, dairy cows and the dairy foods made from their milk present a holistic approach to health and wellness, something that resonates with young consumers. These are your future heads of household, gatekeepers, moms and dads. 

Consumers are expressing a strong belief in the healing power of foods and many are actively using kitchen medicine, both for prevention and for specific medical purposes according to the new 2020 HealthFocus International Kitchen Medicine Report. And it is the younger shoppers that are fueling this growth. They are also interested in the soil and the drivers of the regenerative agriculture. 

The agriculture spectrum has certified regenerative organic farming—the cream of the crop—on the left side of the continuum and conventional agribusiness on the right. Less than 1% of U.S. farms are certified organic and even less are certified regenerative organic. Every improvement away from the right to the left side of the spectrum is a step in the correct direction for our soil. 

This week the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy unveiled the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. This is the initiative that CFI's Arnot refers to.

The initiative is a critical component of U.S. dairy’s environmental stewardship goals, endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers, to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050. This message needs to get to consumers!

“The U.S. dairy community has been working together to provide the world with responsibly produced, nutritious dairy foods,” said Mike Haddad, chairman, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “With the entire dairy community at the table--from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers--we’re leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations.”   

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality: an up to $10 million commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the Net Zero Initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on farms across the country. 

“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA. “Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands. We are excited to collaborate with U.S. dairy and our suppliers to contribute to an even more sustainable dairy supply chain.” 

Nestlé is the first of what the U.S. dairy community hopes will be many partners joining the Net Zero Initiative, contributing funding and expertise to help propel the entire industry’s progress toward a more sustainable future. To learn more, link HERE.

Jay Watson, sourcing sustainability engagement manager at General Mills, sums these efforts up well. 

“We believe that regenerative agriculture is an opportunity for both conventional and organic, and everything in between,” said Watson. ““It’s the right thing to do.”


Friday, October 9, 2020

Eliminating Lactose Improves Dairy’s Position in the “Foods for Health” Movement


More than ever, foods need to do more than satisfy appetites. They need to offer legitimate health benefits, according to a new report from Lux Research. 

Dairy foods can do that!

“Whether helping a consumer’s athletic intentions, cognitive performance or another aspect of health maintenance, foods and beverages are more frequently pushing beyond just claiming convenience, enjoyment and satiety,” according to the report. “The beginnings of this concept come from initial efforts to reduce the prevalence of ‘bad’ ingredients in foods and beverages, and as the bar has been raised on the relative healthfulness of all products, developers seeking to stand out from the crowd have turned to not just less ‘bad’ but more ‘good’ in their products. Many are looking to foods as part of their health in an active way, creating an opportunity for food companies to evolve into health companies and vice versa.”

Milk inherently has the “good” and is also the perfect canvas for the addition of even more “good.” For some consumers, the only thing holding them back from consuming dairy foods is the lactose. The solution is to eliminate it. 

Real or perceived, a growing number of consumers claim to be lactose intolerant. As a result, they avoid all dairy products. Processors are discovering that eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose. 

Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking lactose down into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. When lactose does not break down in the small intestine, it passes into the large intestine, where it may cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. 

Real or perceived, a growing number of consumers claim to be lactose intolerant. As a result, they avoid all dairy products. Processors are discovering that eliminating lactose—a disaccharide unique to all mammalian milk—from dairy foods may prevent consumers from switching to dairy alternatives when the sole reason for the swap is to avoid lactose. 

Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, according to the National Institutes of Health. This is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking lactose down into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. When lactose does not break down in the small intestine, it passes into the large intestine, where it may cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. 

Dairy foods processors can do this for the consumer. It’s easy. Simply add the lactase to the milk during manufacturing. A side perk to this process is that glucose and galactose are sweeter than lactose, and in products such as flavored milk, ice cream and yogurt, an “added-sugar” reduction may be possible. 

Lux Research identified “food for health” as one of six megatrends shaping the food industry as we move out of 2020. In the report titled “The Food Company of 2050,” Lux Research analyzed startup trends, social norms and corporate concerns and was able to outline what food companies must do now to survive and thrive over the next 30 years.

“Food companies will need to adjust and adapt to the six trends in order to truly thrive,” says Thomas Hayes, analyst at Lux Research and report author. “Consumers are increasingly demanding. They are aligning spending habits with health and sustainability. Food companies will need to take some big risks to truly thrive and stay competitive in the long run.” 

Hayes predicts that nearly all products sold will pivot to make health-related claims, with the aim of reducing dependence on medical intervention. Products will also need to pivot to be more sustainable in terms of reducing food waste, working toward decarbonization efforts and providing sustainable packaging.

Lactose-free dairy foods can do all this and more. 

There are a number of lactose-free dairy market research reports in circulation, all of them varying with their forecast on the growth of the global lactose-free dairy products market. But what they all have in common is the expectation that the category will show healthy growth over the next decade. Market experts anticipate that lactose-free dairy products will become more mainstream and show an increase in market penetration due to rising consumer awareness. Product innovation could be key for players, especially individual dairy foods manufacturers. On the whole, lactose-free dairy products are foreseen to make a highly profitable and interesting market in the years ahead.

Promoting digestibility is part of the messaging. This has become easier with the use of high-quality lactase enzyme systems. 

HP Hood produces the Lactaid brand of dairy products. Milk products have been fairing quite well for the brand, even in years past when retail sales of fluid milk were in a downward spiral. That, of course, has changed with the pandemic. For the 52-week period ending July 12, 2020, according to IRI, Lactaid low-fat and skim milk sales were up 10.3% to $463.5 million, while Lactaid whole milk sales increased 19.6%, ringing in at $197.3 million. This is about double the growth experienced last year. The brand can also be found on ice cream, cottage cheese and seasonal eggnog. 

Recently Hood introduced Lactaid Protein Milk, which has 10% more of the Daily Value of protein per serving compared to regular milk. Available in Whole and 2% varieties, the milk is fortified with ultra-filtered skim milk to deliver 13 grams of protein in every 8-ounce serving. Added lactase renders the milk lactose free. It comes in 52-ounce gable-top cartons. 

There clearly is a need for lactose-free milk, which is one of the least tolerated dairy foods by those with lactose sensitivities. That’s because lactose-intolerance symptoms typically occur when the load of lactose is very large and rapidly arrives in the large intestine. Fluid milk is the most concentrated source of lactose.

Most value-added milk brands now include lactose-free options. This includes milks that are organic and higher in protein, with the latter accomplished through either filtration or the addition of milk proteins.

Consumer demand for Darigold FIT milk is growing rapidly. Launched in the Pacific Northwest market in early 2019, FIT doubled its sales and distribution the second half of that first year in market. To support this growth, Darigold Inc., invested $67 million in its Boise, Idaho, facility earlier this year.

FIT was developed in response to consumer trends that demand “better for you” products, which are also delicious and convenient. Using ultrafiltration, FIT is designed to give consumers the taste they want while being lactose free. This is accomplished through the use of ultra-filtered milk and guaranteed by the addition of lactase. This fresh milk has 75% more protein and 40% less sugar compared to traditional milk. 

The line includes 2% Chocolate and 2% White in 59-ounce gable-top cartons and 14-ounce single-serve bottles. There’s also Whole Milk in 59-ounce cartons. 

“FIT was inspired by our farmer owners’ desire to revitalize fluid milk,” says Duane Naluai, senior vice president. “They, more than anyone, know Darigold must provide consumers with new and relevant types of milk that preserve the wholesome and nutritious foundation that makes milk great in the first place. The positive consumer response we have received gives us confidence that FIT is bringing consumers back to fluid dairy.”

The investment in Boise not only expands FIT but also serves as a platform for re-launching other classic Darigold beverages. This investment includes modern aseptic packaging to produce FIT as a shelf-stable product that can be shipped and stored without refrigeration. It will also reduce the company’s environmental footprint as it relates to water use, plastic, corrugated material and overall energy use. The first production run using the shelf-stable packaging will be happening soon.

Anderson Erickson now offers Nourish Lactose-Free Whole and Reduced Fat Milk. The products are all about “nourishing your body and brain,” as they deliver all the inherent nutrition of milk with the added benefits of probiotic cultures. To ensure digestibility, lactase is added to allow for a lactose-free claim. 

Crystal Creamery also added lactose-free milk to its lineup about a year ago. The half-gallon gable-top cartons come in 1%, 2% and Whole varieties. 

Verde Campo markets high-protein Jabuticaba Natural Whey drink, which is made with “skimmed pasteurized milk, whey protein concentrate, lactase enzyme, pectin stabilizer, natural aroma and stevia.” It is 100% natural, lactose free and contains no added sugars. The drink comes in 250-gram and 500-gram bottles in flavors such as Banana, Coconut, Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter, Strawberry, Vanilla and Jabuticaba. Jabuticaba is a typical Brazilian berry that grows on the Plinia cauliflora tree. It has a very dark purple peel, white pulp and a unique sweet flavor. A 250-gram bottle of jabuticaba-flavored Natural Whey contains 14 grams of protein, with 60% being whey proteins and 40% casein. Verde Campo is a Brazilian dairy that was acquired by the Coca-Cola Company in 2016.

Spruce Haven has developed Pursue Happiness Cowffee. This Upstate New York dairy is using a patented feed ingredient to increase the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content of milk by two to three times. This milk is used in its new shelf-stable whole milk cold-brew coffee, a first-of-its-kind beverage that has been in development for nearly four years. One 11-ounce prisma pack provides 120 milligrams of CLA, a naturally occurring component of ruminant milk fat and meat. Consumption by humans is associated with lean-muscle development and fat burning. It also has cancer-fighting properties. The product contains 220 calories and provides 20 grams of protein. The formulation includes lactase, which breaks down the lactose and enhances inherent sweetness. It is only sweetened with 3 grams of pure cane sugar. The coffee is sourced from Fincas Dos Marias, Guatemala, where growers are paid above fair-trade prices. It is roasted in Syracuse, N.Y., and brewed by Peak & Skiff, Lafayette, N.Y. It is a completely traceable supply chain. Spruce Haven was founded in 1987 with 120 cows and 75 heifers. Today the farm has 2,000 cows, 1,850 heifers, and 3,700 acres of crop acres of corn and alfalfa.

Emmi has introduced Energy Milk High Protein Whey to select European markets. The 330-milliliter bottles deliver 30 grams of whey protein, along with 6,800 milligrams of branched-chain amino acids, which assist with recovery and muscle growth after exercise. The milk comes in two flavors: Choco-Hazelnut and Strawberry-Rhubarb. Lactase is added to make the milk lactose free. It’s sweetened by fruit juice and the high-intensity sweeteners cyclamate and acesulfame K.

fairlife now offers failife Nutrition Plan. The high-protein, low-sugar nutrition shakes come in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors in 11.5-ounce bottles. Labels emphasize the inclusion of high-quality protein. Made with ultra-filtered low-fat milk treated with lactase enzyme to ensure the beverage is lactose free, the shakes are sweetened with acesulfame potassium, sucralose, monkfruit extract and stevia, delivering only 2 grams of sugar per serving. With 150 calories, 30 grams of high-quality protein and eight naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, the new shakes complement weight loss and weight management diets, and function as a convenient, on-the-go meal replacement.

The company entered the refrigerated creamer category earlier this year with four varieties--Caramel Coffee, Hazelnut, Sweet Cream and Vanilla--made with the company’s nonfat ultra-filtered milk. Other ingredients include cream, sugar, flavor and lactase enzyme, rendering the creamer lactose free. Touting a 40% reduction in sugar, as compared to other creamers, the product comes in 16-ounce plastic bottles. 
At the beginning of the year, the company was fully acquired by The Coca-Cola Co., which had a minority stake until January 2020. Coca-Cola said fairlife will continue to operate as a standalone business in Chicago. This support is fueling innovation at the company and enabling it to fly out of its comfort zone of fluid dairy. 

For example, the brand is now in the freezer. Ice cream pints come in Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Double Fudge Brownie, Java Chip, Mint Chip and Vanilla flavors. Non-fat ultrafiltered milk is the first ingredient, followed by cream. Whey protein and egg yolk give the ice cream a protein boost, providing 9 grams per two-thirds cup serving, or 23 grams per container. It’s sweetened with cane sugar, allulose and monkfruit extract, allowing for a “40% less sugar than traditional ice cream” claim. It does not contain sugar alcohols. Lactase enzyme allows for a lactose-free claim. The light ice cream gets an additional nutrition boost with the addition of corn fiber, providing 3 grams per serving. A serving contains 140 to 190 calories, and 6 to 11 grams of fat, depending on flavor.

Lactose-free dairy desserts and cultured dairy foods are also gaining traction, especially products with added nutrition. They complement the “Foods for Health” movement.

About a year ago, Ehrmann introduced High-Protein Pudding. The 200-gram single-serve containers come in Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla varieties. The pudding is lactose free thanks to the use of the lactase enzyme, and contains no added sugars. It is sweetened with acesulfame k and sucralose. Each serving provides 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein.

The Hain Celestial Group now offers The Greek Gods Less Sugar Greek-style yogurt. Containing 50% less sugar than the leading brands of regular flavored yogurt, the new keto-friendly product is made with whole milk sourced from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones. 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 five flavors: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla. 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 Collective Dairy in Australia now offers spoonable kefir. This lactose-free prebiotic and probiotic fermented dairy food includes chicory root fiber and 13 active culture strains to “really help give you some good tummy lovin’.” Much like traditional yogurt, what sets spoonable kefir apart is the diverse blend and number of live cultures. They are: Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Leuconostoc pseudomesenteroides and Streptococcus thermophilus.

In addition to a natural plain product, the company recently offered a limited-edition Date Cacao option. Both varieties included lactase to allow for a lactose-free claim. 

FAGE is embracing the lactose-free trend with FAGE BestSelf low-fat Greek yogurt. Speaking directly to the “Foods for Health” movement, FAGE BestSelf comes in a plain variety in 5.3-ounce and 32-ounce containers. With no-added-sugars, a serving contains 110 calories, 3 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar and 15 grams of protein. The blended varieties include chicory root fiber to additionally assist with keeping added sugars on the lower side. Varieties are: Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla. A serving contains 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. And, as you may have guessed, lactase allows for a lactose-free claim and also helps with keeping added sugars down. 


The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has doubled the number of semi-finalists and added more than $350,000 in additional awards to the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, its dairy product innovation competition. Inspired by the number of quality ideas and products that integrate the flavor and functionality of California dairy into both sweet and savory snack formulations, the VentureFuel-run competition has expanded to include 16 companies competing for more than $800,000 in awards. 

The Real California Milk Snackcelerator taps into the $605 billion global snack food market while combining two of California’s great natural resources: High quality, sustainable dairy products and the insatiable California entrepreneurial spirit. The competition aims to inspire innovation and investment in dairy-based snack products, packaging and capacity within California by connecting the dots between processors, producers, investors, ideas and entrepreneurs. A number of them are lactose free. 

Sweet Entries:
Peekaboo Ice Cream is the first and only organic ice cream with the added nutritional benefits of vegetables.

FitPro Heroes’ Cookies are lactose-free, shelf-stable protein cookies that deliver ingredients designed to support daily performance needs.

Moody’s Ice Cream is made by infusing ultra-premium ice cream with functional ingredients, adaptogens and herbalist blends to naturally boost mood and turn up the body’s own superpowers. 

Lucha Leche is a line of protein-rich yogurt drinks in Latin-inspired flavors and fortified with pre- and probiotics and no added sugars. 

Frutero Ice Cream is a line of premium Latin-inspired ice cream made with 100% real tropical fruits and creamy butterfat. 

Optimized Foods developed functional ice cream novelty bars that leverage innovative proprietary encapsulation technologies to deliver key functionally proven health ingredients with better taste and greater bioavailability.

Petit Pot developed a new indulgent chocolate dessert made with the organic, local ingredients. 

KetoBites Cheesecake Bites are a snackable and indulgent cheesecake treat that is high in protein and low in sugar and carbohydrates and packaged in a convenient yogurt-style cup.

Savory Entries:
Baozza is combines two of the most consumed foods in Asian and gen pop culture--bao buns and pizza.

WheyUp Probiotic Kefir Krisps are snack chips made from kefir with a one-year shelf life while maintaining the active probiotic cultures in a cheese yogurt snack.

Point Reyes Farmstead Whey Cool Kitchen Curd Cup is a mix-in, high-protein dairy snack.

Sach Foods Organic Paneer is a line of flavored artisanal paneer. 

Fahris Yoghurt Chips were inspired by a Mediterranean recipe that combines yogurt with crushed wheat and thyme. 

Saga Ventures Crispy Cheese Bar is a snacking option that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein for sustainable energy.  

Yummy Industries Cheese Bits are all-natural, fresh and wood-smoked scamorza and chechil cheeses, conveniently shaped and packaged for snacking fun. 

Enrich Protein is a Hispanic-style dairy snack chip containing innovative and novel enhanced dairy proteins to support greater health, body composition and exercise recovery. 

Through the Real California Milk Snackcelerator, the CMAB sought high-growth potential snack product concepts, with cow’s milk dairy as their first ingredient and making up at least 50% of their formula. The startups have committed to producing the product in California, with milk from California dairy farms, should they win the competition. The 16 startups accepted into the cohort are receiving $10,000 worth of support each to develop an edible prototype, while receiving a suite of resources including graphic design, lab or kitchen time and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging and distribution experts. They also will receive additional services and support via industry leaders to help drive success of their new venture. 

Semi-finalists will compete in four virtual events on November 10 and 11 followed by a final virtual public pitch event for the “Final Four” November 19. (I am a judge!) The first-place winner will receive up to $200,000 worth of additional support and the second-place winner $100,000 worth of additional support to get their new product to market. The value of the competition prizing is over $800,000