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!


  1. Great article. I had never heard of "maca root," an interesting ingredient. Donna, thanks for keeping us up-to-date on the latest dairy innovations.

  2. Love how you think out of the box! Keep doing that for us producers.