Friday, June 11, 2021

June is National Dairy Month: Seven Newsy Items to Power-Up Your Business as the World Opens Up


We’re almost half way through National Dairy Month, a recognition first bestowed to June in 1937 as National Milk Month that soon evolved into including all dairy foods. National Dairy Month functions as a marketing and promotions campaign for retailers, brands and farmers to encourage consumption of nutrient-rich dairy foods. 

This June has been full of interesting dairy news, and like I stated, we are not even half way through it. Here are seven newsy items you will want to catch up on. 

1. Is it time to reevaluate organic dairy production standards? An article published in the May 2021 issue of Journal of Food Science, and made available to me last week, suggests it may be time to change the rules governing the use of antibiotics in organic livestock. Read more in an article I wrote for Food Business News HERE.

2. The FDA has amended the standard of identity for yogurt. On June 9, FDA issued a final rule to amend and modernize the standard of identity for yogurt by allowing for greater flexibilities and technological advances in yogurt production. This is something that has been long overdue. It’s nice to see FDA back in action. (The industry has been waiting for this for more than a decade!) This initiative is part of FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which has as one of its goals to modernize food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods. 

Currently, FDA has separate standards of identity for yogurt, low-fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt. Under the final rule, low-fat yogurt and nonfat yogurt will be covered under FDA’s general definition and standard of identity, which allows nutritionally modified versions of traditional standardized foods. The final rule expands the allowable ingredients in yogurt, including sweeteners and reconstituted forms of basic dairy ingredients. It establishes a minimum amount of live and active cultures yogurt it must contain in order to bear the optional labeling statement “contains live and active cultures” or similar statement. Additionally, the final rule supports the many innovations that have already been made in the yogurt marketplace, including continuing to allow manufacturers to fortify yogurts, such as adding vitamins A and D, as long as they meet fortification requirements. The rule also allows various styles or textures of yogurt as long as they meet the requirements in the standard of identity. The compliance date of this final rule is January 1, 2024. For more information, link HERE.

Photo source: Dairy Management Inc.

3. The USDA rolls out the Build Back Better initiative. The USDA is back in action, too. Thanks Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Citing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions, on June 8, the USDA announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. The new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, help communities that have been left behind and support good-paying jobs throughout the supply chain. Today’s announcement supports the Biden Administration’s broader work on strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains as directed by Executive Order 14017 America’s Supply Chains. Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruption for growers and food workers. It exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated and fragile. Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else,” said Vilsack. “The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds. I am confident USDA’s investments will spur billions more in leveraged funding from the private sector and others as this initiative gains traction across the country. I look forward to getting to work as co-chair of the new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and help to mobilize a whole-of-government effort to address the short-term supply challenges our country faces as it recovers.” To read more, link HERE.

4. The USDA is also focusing on food security for all Americas. Vilsack is on a roll. (Thank you!) A week earlier, when he first announced the Build Back Better initiative, he shared USDA’s plans to purchase healthy food for food-insecure Americans and build food bank capacity. This $1 billion brings the total amount dedicated to food bank efforts to more than $5 billion.

“Hunger is on the decline thanks to aggressive action by the Biden-Harris Administration, but we must do more to improve partnerships and infrastructure that power emergency food distribution to ensure the food provided is nutritious and supports a better food system,” said Vilsack. “Now is the time to apply lessons learned from food assistance activities early in the pandemic to improve how USDA purchases food and supports on-the-ground organizations with The Emergency Food Assistance Program. We will put special emphasis on reaching rural, remote and underserved communities, local and regional food systems, and socially disadvantaged farmers.”

As someone who volunteers regularly at a food bank in Chicago, I am especially grateful for the up to $100 million being dedicated to infrastructure grants to build capacity for food banks. This is a lot about refrigeration storage. The food bank hub where I volunteer—where donations and purchased food comes in and volunteers separate and then distribute to outreach facilities—has very limited refrigerated space for, you guessed it, all things dairy. Imagine my struggle with this fact. Looking forward to positive change. To read more, link HERE.

5. Innova data affirms that whey and milk proteins shatter new product launch records in 2020. That’s right, on June 1—World Milk Day--The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) shared data from Innova Market Insight’s Database showing an upward growth trajectory in the number of new global food and beverage product introductions made with whey proteins and with milk proteins. A record 7,409 whey protein products were introduced around the world in 2020, with annual launches nearly doubling from 2015. This represents a double-digit (13.9%) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2020, demonstrating that food formulators are tapping into these nutritional and functional ingredients to fuel innovations that deliver on consumer desires. 

Milk protein product launches also smashed prior year records, reaching 9,413 products in 2020, a 3.7% CAGR from 2015 to 2020. Aggregated dairy protein product introductions outpaced plant proteins in 2020 by over 3,000 products (17,652 dairy proteins and 14,584 plant proteins), maintaining a consistent lead held for the past decade. 

“This impressive growth in whey, milk and dairy protein introductions aligns with other Innova Market Insights’ survey data showing strong consumer demand for proteins from both animal and plant based sources,” said Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights. “Innovation potential remains bright across global markets and diverse product categories for these versatile ingredients from cow’s milk, offering formulators the sweet spot of nutritionally high-quality proteins that complement today’s plant forward lifestyles.”  Photo source: Dutch Farms

Kristi Saitama, vice president, global ingredients marketing for USDEC, said, “Consumer interest in protein for health is no longer just in Western markets where the protein trend started but is gaining momentum and driving new product introductions around the world. Launch activity is likely to accelerate in coming years as manufacturers in Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries further discover and seek out whey and milk protein’s powerhouse nutritional package to develop local-friendly products supporting consumer health and wellness goals, such as fitness, weight management and healthy aging.”  For more information, link HERE.

6. There’s a new guide out to assist marketers with making cheese relevant for generations of snackers. Snacking has become a way of life. For some, snacks are mini meals, as the consumer is mindful of nutritional value. For others, the snack may be a treat, an indulgence or a quick boost of energy. Cheese is all of this and more. To learn more, link HERE.

7. And lucky #7, a recent survey shows that Americans love dairy. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducted an online survey April 1 to 6, 2021, which included 1,014 adults ages 18 to 80 who consume dairy at least a few times a year. The results were weighted to ensure proportional results. The research was supported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). 

The results showed that despite the ever-growing options available for dairy alternatives, dairy itself remains overwhelmingly popular among dairy consumers. According to the findings, nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults who consume dairy foods or beverages do so several times a week, compared to about one-quarter (28%) who say the same of nondairy alternatives like nut-, oat- or soy-based milk, ice cream, yogurt or cheese.  

Older adults have the strongest preference for dairy compared to other age groups, with four in five (80%) of those age 55+ saying they consume dairy foods or beverages multiple times per week, compared to two-thirds (67%) of 18- to 34-year-olds and 73% of those ages 35 to 54. Conversely, only 10% of adults age 55+ consume plant-based alternatives multiple times a week, compared to about one-third of younger people (34% of those ages 18 to 34 and 31% of those 35 to 54). Half of adults age 55+ say they never consume nondairy alternatives, standing in stark contrast to just under 8% of 18-34-year-olds who say the same. 

When the results are broken down by specific foods, Americans prefer cheese made from dairy over plant-based versions. (This is no surprise!) About three-quarters (74%) said they always choose the dairy version of cheese, while 20% sometimes choose nondairy. Photo source: Dutch Farms

Comparing other products, 68% always choose the dairy version of butter, while 23% sometimes choose nondairy; 66% always choose the dairy version of ice cream, while 26% sometimes choose nondairy; 64% always choose the dairy version of milk, while 26% sometimes choose nondairy; 62% always choose the dairy version of yogurt, while 22% sometimes choose nondairy; and 45% always choose the dairy version of yogurt-based smoothies or drinks, while 27% sometimes choose nondairy. Women are significantly more likely than men to sometimes choose both dairy and plant-based versions of milk (29% of women vs. 23% of men), though overall product preferences are mostly similar by gender. For more information on the survey, link HERE

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