Friday, October 2, 2020

Dairy Foods Formulating for the New Norm Home Cook


Photo source: Vermont Creamery

Home cooking has gone from trend to habit in the past six months. Market analysts and industry experts say home cooking is here for the long-term future. Dairy foods formulators are encouraged to get creative with products that provide short cuts in the kitchen: everything from specialty products for restaurant-quality home dinners to affordable products for everyday convenience. It’s everything that dairy can be.

Americans made a marked return to their kitchens in March, rediscovering scratch cooking, baking and above all, comfort. The global pandemic forced a shift to more purposeful shopping behaviors and more thoughtful, elaborate meal preparation.

According to a Hunter poll conducted in April 2020, 54% of Americans surveyed reported that they are cooking more since the pandemic, with a 50% increase in their cooking confidence. Notably, 44% reported that they have discovered new ingredients. 

Indeed, cooking confidence is soaring, and increased time in the kitchen has re-sparked a joy of cooking, according to the poll. Americans plan to continue cooking more even after the world reverts to normal, as they are finding cooking more helps them save money and eat healthier. They are becoming more adventurous in the kitchen, discovering new brands and products, and rediscovering old favorites. They are using recipes more than ever and are wasting less food. The pandemic is driving families together around the table, with many turning more to both healthier food and more indulgent and comfort foods, as they look to food for complete nourishment: body, mind and soul. 

Dairy foods do all this and more!

Read more on the Hunter Poll HERE.

Infographic source: Hunter Poll

But consumers aren’t just looking for a new challenge. They are looking for products that offer versatility across multiple applications, and not surprisingly, a forgiving shelf life. Dairy foods can do that!

Vermont Creamery has embraced this opportunity. The company’s culinary creams, such as crème fraîche and mascarpone, are uniquely positioned to deliver on this compelling consumer trend. 

In fact, the company’s crème fraîche has become a kitchen staple amid the at-home cooking renaissance, according to the company. This French-style culinary cream long favored by professional chefs, is quickly becoming an essential kitchen staple for increasingly ambitious home cooks looking for more complex recipes and ingredients.

Crème fraîche is a true work horse in the kitchen; the closest cousin to cultured butter, it is a thick and rich cultured cream boasting 42% butterfat, that adds depth of flavor and decadence to any dish, sweet or savory. Its high butterfat means it won’t break at high heat or when it encounters acidity, setting it up for success in hot soups, stews, pan sauces and baked goods. Crème fraiche can be used in any recipe that calls for sour cream but soars above it in terms of its flavor contribution. Made with fresh Vermont cream, crème fraîche is cultured for 24 hours, creating a thick, spoonable texture and rich flavor notes of hazelnut. 

Crème fraiche sales have seen double digit growth over the past year. There’s been a 39% increase in buyers, with volume sales up 18% since last year, according to data from IRI during the 13-week period ended July 12, 2020. 

Crème fraiche is a specialty food. 

Infographic Source: Hunter Poll
Last week the Specialty Food Association (SFA) held Specialty Food Live! 2020, as a platform for those who had planned to participate in the Summer Fancy Food Show previously scheduled for late June in New York City. The virtual event kicked off with a state of the specialty food industry report. David Lockwood, consulting director at Mintel explained that the specialty food category is expected to grow more in 2020 than originally forecast—16.5% vs. 13.3%—due to the pandemic. To compare, the category ended 2019 with a valuation of $158.4 billion, a 10.7% increase since 2017.

The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2020-2021, published by SFA and developed with Mintel, explores the market and where it is going based on sales data from the past three calendar years, sales forecasts in key categories, and a consumer survey that tracks behaviors, preferences, and generational differences shifting the market. This year’s research includes analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the specialty food industry, including supply chain commentary, to provide insight on market ramifications, challenges, and opportunities in the current business environment.

Specialty foods are defined as foods or beverages of the highest grade, style and/or quality in their respective categories. Their specialty nature derives from a combination of some or all of the following qualities: uniqueness, origin, processing method, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, extraordinary packaging or channel of distribution/sales.

Infographic source: Hunter Poll
The report shows that the specialty food and beverage market continued to outpace sales of all food, growing three times faster than the entire food and beverage market from 2017 to 2019. In 2019 more categories than ever before (12) achieved at least $2 billion in annual sales. Cheese and plant-based cheese was the number-one specialty food category in retail sales. Shelf-stable and refrigerated creams and creamers were the number-two and number-three in terms of highest dollar growth. 

Regarding the virtual event, trendspotter Melanie Bartelme, global food analyst at Mintel, said, “what stood out the most in my eyes was how relevant specialty products like simmer sauces, seasoning blends and other cooking tools have become in these times. With quarantine putting an increased focus on home cooking, products that can take consumers on culinary adventures or simplify their busy lives will really resonate.”

To read more about the virtual event and explore a slideshow of innovations, link HERE to a Food Business News article I wrote this week. 

These cooking tools are all about the new “modern convenience.” New ways of engaging with food and eating have become prevalent as consumers become more purpose-driven and intentional in their purchases, according to The Hartman Group’s COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience report. (See infographic.)

Convenience is a key consideration for consumers when it comes to food and beverage choices, but what does convenience look like when a global pandemic throws normal schedules and routines into disarray? The COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience white paper dissects how the fundamental components and expressions of modern convenience have been translated into the COVID-19 era and analyzes which of these shifts will have long-term impacts on consumer decisions. You can download the free white paper HERE.

“Purpose-driven and intentional in purchases,” this is what Land O’Lakes’ new Where Goodness Grows project is all about. This six-part digital video series educates consumers about dairy farming and how it is more than hard work. In between caring for the cows and waiting for the rain to stop (or start), there is joy, hope and plenty of smiles to go around. 

Watch the video HERE.

Land O’Lakes farmer-owners share their inspiring stories, as well as home-crafted recipes featuring dairy ingredients, namely baked goods made with Land O Lakes Butter. Research shows that butter has provided much-needed comfort to millions of Americans throughout 2020. And while the country continues to face uncertainty, farmers are working tirelessly to ensure the food supply chain remains strong.

Photo source: Land O'Lakes

“We created Where Goodness Grows to give our farmer-owners a platform to share hope and positivity, which can be just as nourishing as the food they produce,” said Catherine Fox, vice president dairy foods marketing at Land O’Lakes. “Through this storytelling platform, we are adding dimension to the way most people imagine dairy farmers by shining a light on the amazing things they do. There’s plenty of goodness to share.”  

As part of its ongoing commitment to ending hunger in the U.S., Land O’Lakes is donating one pound of macaroni and cheese for a guaranteed maximum donation of 100,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese (equivalent to 83,000 meals) to Feeding America for every comment on or share of a Where Goodness Grows episode. Please watch, comment and share HERE.

It’s time for dairy foods formulators to get creative with products that provide short cuts in the kitchen: everything from specialty products for restaurant-quality home dinners to affordable products for everyday convenience. It’s everything that dairy can be. 

Today’s blog sponsor—Edlong—is rolling out “Everything Dairy Can Be,” an inspirational mantra that is driven by Edlong’s industry-leading dairy, dairy-based and dairy-free ingredient capabilities.

“With Everything Dairy Can Be, we are sending a powerful message to the marketplace that Edlong is the ‘Navy Seal’ of dairy solutions,” says Laurette Rondenet, Edlong President and CEO. “Our team specializes in getting the job done when others can’t, bringing to life the virtually limitless possibilities of dairy flavors and the answers they provide. Our singular focus on the essence of dairy taste equips us with intricate knowledge that is unsurpassed. This expertise is put to work to solve some of the most complex product development challenges. Nobody has done dairy ingredients longer, and if you ask our customers, nobody does the taste of dairy better.  

“Dairy can be everything from a problem-solver, to a point of difference for a brand, to a point of commonality between cultures,” added Rondenet. 

Link HERE to learn more about formulating dairy foods for the new norm home cook. 

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