Friday, April 9, 2021

Positioning Your Products for Revenge Spending

At the International Dairy Foods Association’s Ice Cream Tech conference this week---it was so nice to virtually interact with many of you—I introduced attendees to the emerging “revenge spending” movement we are now entering after saving money typically spent on social activities this past year of the pandemic. Bloomberg estimates that Americans stashed away $1.7 trillion dollars and now are ready to put it back into the economy. 

Fully vaccinated folks are booking vacations—at a hefty price—and exploring restaurants once again. They are craving flavor adventure and are looking for new foods to satisfy. (Not sure what the fashion industry was thinking, but this year was not the one to bring back 80’s styles. That’s the last thing Boomers and Gen X want to revisit. It’s like extending the pandemic nightmare.)

So what does this all mean for dairy foods? For starters, it is paramount that we continue to communicate the “Power of Dairy Protein” message. This includes talking quality not just quantity. 

To make a “good source of protein” claim, a product must provide more than 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of protein per serving (5 grams), while products making an “excellent source of protein” claim must contain more than 20% DV (10 grams). It’s important to note that making these claims does not simply translate to 5 grams and 10 grams of protein per serving. It’s 5 grams and 10 grams of “high-quality” protein. 

The Percent Daily Value for protein is currently determined using the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), which is an adjustment for the quality of the protein. It is based on the types and amounts of amino acids in the food as well as the overall digestibility. The PDCAAS values range from 0.0 to 1.0, where values are truncated to a maximum score of 1.00, which cows milk, casein, whey, eggs and soy protein all possess. Most plant protein sources have much lower values. Thus, a nutrition beverage containing 10 grams of milk protein may make an “excellent source of protein” claim. A vegan product with 10 grams of protein from pulses or grains most likely only qualifies for a “good source of protein” claim. When making or implying any protein content claim, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the inclusion of the % DV to support the protein claim.  

This week, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) published a statement titled: Dairy—Tough to Live Without It. Here it is:

The misguided, fringe argument that dairy isn’t important to human diets would be laughable if it weren’t dangerous. Is it possible to live without dairy? It’s possible to live without many things--sunlight, for example--but that doesn’t make it healthy, wise or preferable.  

While a dairy-free life is possible, it isn’t wise, unless, maybe, you’re severely allergic or perhaps work in sales for a nutritional supplement company. A few facts:

Scientific studies have linked dairy consumption to numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved digestive health and healthy immune systems. 

According to last year’s final scientific advisory report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which sets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, 88% of Americans have insufficient dairy in their diets. 

Infographic source: HealthFocus International

Dairy is especially important to pregnant women as a source of iodine, as well as for infants and toddlers, who beginning at six months can benefit from yogurt and cheese, and at 12 months gain nutrition from dairy milk.

The Advisory Committee also recommended dairy for consumption within all three healthy eating patterns featured in its report: the Healthy U.S. style eating pattern, the Healthy Vegetarian Style pattern and the Healthy-Mediterranean pattern.

Research shows that healthy eating patterns that include dairy foods are linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

And what about dairy’s inclusion in the Healthy Vegetarian pattern? Why is it vegetarian, and not vegan? Because when you get rid of dairy, you need supplements to make up for the lost nutrition. Dairy foods are often recommended as part of plant-based diets because they contain high-quality proteins and under-consumed nutrients like calcium, vitamins D and B12. 

Those aren’t the only under-consumed nutrients milk provides. Others include potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A.

In total, dairy packs in 13 essential nutrients. For a reference list, see the infographic.

Dairy isn’t only essential. It’s also affordable. According to recent retail data, a gallon of conventional milk cost 56% less than a plant-based beverage, while yogurt was 59% less expensive than its imitators, many of which are nutritionally inferior in terms of protein quality.

Speaking of plant-based beverages, their attempts to trick consumers into believing they’re nutritional equivalents to dairy may have tragic consequences for specific populations, as detailed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, members of whom have observed child malnourishment caused by reliance on plant-based imitators by parents who mistakenly thought, because of a lack of labeling integrity, that they were getting dairy’s unique nutrient package. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also cautions against plant-based substitution, noting that most plant-based beverages lack nutritional equivalence. 

Further, according to NMPF, simplistic views of plant- versus animal-sourced foods may have unintended consequences for human health. Removing animal-sourced products from diets would force much of the world’s population to rely on supplements to make up for nutritional shortfalls.

That leads into the final point: Dairy’s sustainability. By providing nutrition efficiently through environmentally sustainable practices, dairy is a part of the long-term solution to planet health as well as human health. 

Listen to a podcast on this topic HERE.

Skeptics can look to, among many other things, the sector’s Net Zero Initiative and its sustainability goals, along with other literature, such as modeling published in the Journal of Dairy Science that assessed the impacts of completely removing dairy cows from the U.S. and removing dairy from all American diets. The results showed a lack of presumed environmental benefits, but a notable threat to human health.  

Make sure dairy stays on the shopping list during revenge spending. Retail sales data from pandemic spending showed that consumers appreciate the value and nutrition of dairy foods. After all, dairy’s unique nutrient package is hard to replace. 

While they can live without it, why on Earth would they want to? Maybe because they are into supplement pills, or like living a less-nutritious lifestyle. There’s a very good chance they are simply ill-informed. We can help with the third item by continuing to communicate the 13 essential nutrients found in dairy along with the “Power of Dairy Protein” message. Remember, the latter includes talking quality not just quantity. 

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