Friday, March 5, 2021

Explore Dairy Innovation Ideas to Stay Competitive in the Post-Pandemic Food Story.


With the days getting longer and the temperatures warming, consumers are itching to get out and do things. In areas where safety protocols remain in place and vaccinations are being aggressively administered, it is likely that Covid-19 numbers will show a rapid decline. This is great news! While consumers are looking forward to getting out safely, the combination of ongoing virtual work environments and flexible schedules, along with continued concerns about making upcoming payments and the ease of grocery pick-up and delivery services, are creating a major shift in consumer food spending, according to the hot-off-the-presses Deloitte report “Surprise Ingredients in the Post-Pandemic Food Story.” You can read more HERE.

Deloitte’s poll of 3,000 U.S. consumers shows that many will be buying fresh food, with cooking likely going to outlast the health crisis. The pent-up demand for restaurant dining isn’t going to be enough for a full foodservice recovery. As Covid-19 forced more people to eat at home, the frequency of dining out will remain stunted compared to 2019, even when the health crisis ends, according to the Deloitte report.

“We may be about to witness the reversal of a multi-decade trend,” according to the report, when referencing the pendulum swinging from growth in dining out to stay-at-home eating. 

Source: Deloitte 

Four key findings from the report, which is based on U.S. data from Deloitte’s Global State of the Consumer Tracker, are:

1. Cooking up new habits. While only 7% of consumers said they would cook less after the pandemic, nearly half (42%) said they actually plan to cook more. This is further spurred by 29% of consumers who plan to buy more fresh food, as well as an increase in grocery delivery services and consumer investments in countertop appliances. 

Think about how you can keep dairy relevant and how dairy can best assist with meal solutions. Earlier this week I showcased Aldi’s new private-label Park Street Deli Mushroom Medley Simmer Sauce.
Sour cream is the first ingredient in this cooking sauce, with parmesan and asiago also dominant ingredients. Sold in 22-ounce plastic tubs in the refrigerated section, the sauce is fully cooked. It may be poured over pasta or add chicken for further cooking. Dairy processors that produce refrigerated dips have this container and can easily create seasoned sour creams to use as sauce. 

Dairy processors that produce milk in plastic pints and quarts can also readily enter the condiment category. After all, summer time is salad season. Start with yogurt, sour cream or even buttermilk as a base, and add herbs, spices and other flavors. Work with local markets to merchandise these fresh dressings in the produce department. 

Photo source: The Seasoned Mom
2. Ordering the restaurant experience. As excited as many are to eat out, one in three consumers will dine out less than before. However, restaurants will benefit from the 40% of consumers who plan to order takeout and delivery more so than before Covid-19. 

I think we can all agree that ordering take out from many restaurants equates to packaging overload. It is also a tedious process for back-of-house help to portion out the souffle cups of everything from salad dressing to sour cream. If you have portion-control packaging capabilities, maybe it’s time to team up with local restaurants and get your brand in front of diners. 

3. Grab and go home. With work from home continuing and business travel still below pre-Covid levels, the frequency of meals with colleagues or picked up on the way to the office is down as well.  

Dairy processors were already active players in the grab-and-go sector prior to the pandemic. Good job! But now it’s time to think beyond your current offerings. That’s what Unilever is doing with its new Klondike Shakes. Unilever has pouch machinery for other product lines, and decided to bring it into the freezer. The 4.7-ounce pouches of Chill Out & Vanilla and Wind Down & Chocolate come frozen. The consumer just lets it sit out for about three minutes, then twists off the cap and sips. 

4. Chopping costs. Often, cooking at home can be better for budgets, which is top of mind for many. About one in three Americans are worried about making upcoming payments and concerned about their savings and credit card balances. 

It’s time to market dairy’s affordability, along with its deliciousness. Work with suppliers on technologies to lower costs while not compromising flavor or nutrition and pass that savings onto the consumer. 

For more guidance on adapting to the changing landscape, link HERE to Deloitte’s “2021 Consumer Products Industry Outlook.” The report identifies five opportunities for growth, including resetting go-to market strategies, accelerating the shift to digital, building supply chain resilience, investing in automation and robotic technologies, and connecting purpose to profit. 

Opportunities to Meet with Colleagues to Collaborate and Innovate
There are a number of events taking place virtually over the next few months that may assist with your innovation efforts. I highly encourage you to participate in order to engage with colleagues. All of these events were cancelled last year because of the pandemic, and the regulars are anxious to get together and welcome new people. It just so happens I will be speaking (different presentations) at all of these events.

IDFA’s Ice Cream Technology Conference. April 6-8. Link HERE for more information. 

IDFA’s Yogurt & Cultured Innovation Conference. April 8, and April 13-14. Link HERE for more information. 

Oregon Dairy Industries (ODI). April 13-14. Link HERE for more information. 

Global Dairy Congress. June 22-24. Link HERE for more information. 

got a winning innovation? 
World Dairy Innovation Awards…early-bird submissions due March 19, 2021.
Dairy processors around the world continue to amaze with their innovation efforts. Here’s a chance to receive recognition: enter The World Dairy Innovation Awards 2021. The U.K.-based FoodBev Media organizes and presents this award. This year the judges will be selecting winners in 20 different categories. Typically, the finalists and winners are announced at a special gala dinner held during the annual Global Dairy Congress in mid-June. This year’s event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony in June. Link HERE for more information.

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