Friday, November 19, 2021

Something Sweet to Think About (for the ageing population)

If you know me well, you are aware that I have never been a fan of anything chocolate. In fact, I have never been much of a sweets person. I’ve always preferred salty and savory. But, that changed in the past few years and it started before the pandemic; however, the pandemic made me more mindful of my changing tastebuds and the accompanying sugar intake. A lot of us “ageing” folks are with me. 

This is why I found BENEO’s webinar this week on formulating foods for healthy aging so interesting. I was completely unaware that on December 14, 2020, The United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 to 2030 to be the Decade of Healthy Ageing. Three days later, the World Health Organization issued the Baseline report for the Decade of Healthy Ageing, which included data stating that at least 14% of all people aged 60 years and over, which is more than 142 million people, are currently unable to meet all their basic daily needs.

Now, sweets are not a basic daily need; however, for many older adults, it’s the highlight of their day. (I’m not there yet, but I am starting to understand the “sweet treat” daypart.) This presents an opportunity in the category I have long noted as being the most underdeveloped in the U.S.: refrigerated dairy desserts. 

Here’s the deal. It has to taste good. It has to feel good. It has to satisfy. And remember, it’s a sweet treat, so sweet taste is paramount. There are many ways to deliver sweet, and for sweet treats for the ageing population, I highly recommend staying away from sweeteners with off notes, may cause gastrointestinal distress or rapidly raise blood glucose levels. We grew up with sugar and TAB (saccharin) as our benchmarks for sweet taste.  

“Getting older is a privilege,” said Denisse Colindres, manager of nutrition communications for BENEO in North America. “Good choices on nutrition and lifestyle allow us to age optimally.”

I highly encourage you to watch this 45-minute webinar. I watch a lot of webinars and present many as well. It’s not often I can say I’ve heard some new information. This one kept my attention. Link HERE

The fact is, by 2050, 2.1 billion people will be over 60 years old. (I will be 83 years proud!) Product development focused on this age group should be on your radar to aim for positive ageing. 

A leading concern is blood sugar levels rising, and this is without that daily sweet treat. It just happens with ageing. 

Natural Grocers, a chain of better-for-you food and supplement stores founded in 1979 and located across the U.S., issued its sixth annual top-10 nutrition trend predictions for 2022. They were identified by the company’s team of health and wellness experts in collaboration with its purchasing and analytics teams. The predictions include healthspan, sensible indulgences, functional flavors, pet nutrition and saying goodbye to burnout.

“As we look back at another year in which our communities have felt the obvious and hidden effects of a global pandemic, there is no denying that people are changing how they approach their health,” said Shelby Miller, Natural Grocers’ manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education. “People are considering how their everyday choices affect their long-term health, and our trends for the coming year reflect how those decisions are intricately tied together to shape our wellbeing and our ability to thrive and flourish.”

The number-one trend is “From Lifespan to Healthspan.”

“With a growing realization that healthspan is as important as lifespan, in 2022, we will focus not only on how long we can live, but also on how healthy we can live those years. This will look like supporting health with diet, lifestyle and supplements not in mid- to late age, or only when a health issues arises, but throughout our lives,” according to the retailer.

This supports BENEO’s perspective of “Seeking positive ageing in every generational phase of life. People want to enjoy their life and be their best self.” Let’s help them!

Here’s another webinar you won’t want to miss. We will be presenting some never-before-revealed data on the future of dairy foods innovation.

2021 to 2022 Dairy Industry Outlook
Hope you join me on the Dec. 1 webinar hosted by Dairy Processing to discuss the dairy manufacturing economics of this past year and what we can expect in 2022. Cypress Research surveyed dairy processing professionals in June and July of this year and 148 respondents shared their input on their company’s performance in 2021, compared to 2020; the outlook for their company for 2022; and their views on the overall health of the dairy industry in the coming year. Register HERE.


Friday, November 12, 2021

Think of the Children. Market how dairy meets their nutritional needs.


With a headline of “Think of the Children,” I bet you thought I was going there…the “V” word. Well, if I had littles, they would be scheduled to get their first dose. 

But really, that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about making every bite and sip count in the youngest mouths on this planet. As you may recall, for the first time ever, the U.S. government got involved with nutrition directions for youngsters. (Thanks for trying to keep us healthy.) The 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations for children under two years of age. They suggest that infants and toddlers feed only on breast milk for at least six months and give no added sugar to children younger than 2. 

Older kids have long had recommendations and are not as strict. But still, every bite and sip matters. This is why it’s paramount that the dairy industry manufacture products that cater to their nutritional needs, as well as sensory desires. They like sweet flavors and appetizing colors. 

The toddler phase may be considered the “terrible twos,” but it is a highly critical development phase for children and has long-lasting effects on the body and the brain. For tweens and teens, choosing nutrient-dense foods instead of empty calories will lead to building better bodies and better eating habits as adults. These kids are active and burning many calories in a day, so focusing on ingredients that provide energy and satiety throughout the day is key to optimal health. 

So, let’s talk about Ripple Kids. Have you seen any of the commercials? Check out this social media VIDEO.

Since its release in early 2021, Ripple Kids has been loud about how it delivers all the nutrients kids need without dairy. The brand was even named a finalist in the Best New Natural Kids Product category for the NEXTY Awards. Data shared at the 2019 Food for Kids summit from a study done by Linkage Research & Consulting reported that 60% of households with kids are buying plant-based foods, and 80% are also feeding the foods to their children, according to Imbibe. 

Ripple Kids was developed with pediatricians for early childhood nutrition. In addition to the 8 grams of plant-based protein from peas, Ripple Kids has 50 milligrams of DHA, choline and prebiotic fiber, along with many of the essential nutrients found in dairy milk: calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, D and B12. 

I applaud Nestle for bringing the Nido brand into a ready-to-drink, shelf-stable format. New Nido School Years is formulated for children ages 4 and up. It is made with real milk and 40% less added sugars than other flavored milks. Some varieties include fruit puree, too. The milk is touted as containing vitamin D and calcium to help support bone health and vitamin A and zinc to help support immunity. The 8-ounce aseptic boxes come in four varieties: banana, mango, strawberry and vanilla. They are sold as individual cartons and in six packs. 

Need help keeping strawberry milk looking delicious? Natural red color may help. 

Lycored tested the stability of two of its natural red lycopene-based colors versus the artificial colorant Red 3 during and after ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing in a flavored milk drink matrix. Accelerated shelf life tests were carried out to evaluate the stability of the colors when exposed to light, dark and ambient conditions, simulating real-life storage, transportation and retail environments.

The natural colors outperformed the artificial color across all tests, demonstrating that there are considerable advantages to selecting lycopene-based red shades over other artificial or natural colors for UHT applications.

Link HERE to download a white paper on this topic and to learn more about Lycored’s resilient natural red colors. This picture shows how these colors perform. 

USDA Invests $20.2 Million in Grants for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of $20.2 million in the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives program. The DBI awarded $18.4 million to three current Initiatives at University of Tennessee, Vermont Agency for Food and Marketing and University of Wisconsin, and $1.8 million to the California State University Fresno, a new investment this year to be managed in partnership with the California Dairy Innovation Center (CDIC).

Since its inception in 2019, DBI initiatives have provided valuable technical assistance and sub-grants to dairy farmers and businesses across their regions, assisting them with business plan development, marketing and branding, as well as increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products.
For more information, link HERE.

“These awards will expand the scope of the Dairy Business Innovation program and provide much-needed support to small dairy farms and businesses as they continue to recover from the pandemic,” says USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt. “In addition to initiatives in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest, a new initiative for the Pacific Coast is funded, led by California State University Fresno. These DBI initiatives provide the dairy industry with additional capacity and expertise that will go beyond immediate assistance and set the stage for a more secure future.”

The California investment will serve to create a “Pacific Coast Coalition” to support dairy businesses in California, Oregon and Washington. Through this program, Fresno State and collaborating institutions will deliver hands-on technical assistance to dairy businesses, providing access to laboratory space and equipment to facilitate development and innovation. The Coalition has a strong focus on education as well and will offer learning opportunities on technical topics and related areas of interest such as supply chain innovation, distribution, packaging, marketing and branding strategies. 

“This collaboration is why the CDIC was created, to support collaboration and attract investment in California’s dairy industry,” says John Talbot, CEO of the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “We’re pleased to join the group of existing coalitions in Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee, in order to advance our industry nationwide.” 

California leads the nation in milk production and milk is the number one agricultural commodity in the state. California also is a leading exporter of dairy products. The Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of dairy businesses that are well-positioned to serve the needs of growing markets in Asia and Latin America. 

“The Pacific Coast Coalition will contribute to our competitive advantage in global markets and directly benefit our regional businesses. It will be instrumental to stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, strengthening the development of our workforce pipeline, and ultimately leading to the increased use of our milk in value-added products,” adds Talbot.  

DFA’s CoLAB Accelerator Seeking New Applicants for 2022 Program 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2022 Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) CoLAB Accelerator program, which will begin in April and run through June 2022. The program, now in its sixth year, is designed to foster relationships with startup companies and help advance innovative solutions in the areas of ag-tech and dairy food products. 

“At DFA, our mission is to deliver value to our family farm-owners. This program is one way that we’re investing in new opportunities for the industry and helping drive innovation on the farm and in the dairy case,” says Doug Dresslaer, director of innovation at DFA. “What’s particularly exciting with our program is that we continue to work with many of our past participants, which is the end goal to really develop long-term relationships.” 

Ag-tech companies can address any portion of the dairy value chain, including but not limited to animal health, farm data management, herd health and management, supply chain optimization, farm labor and sustainability. Some ag-tech categories of particular interest to DFA include antibiotic alternatives, renewable or alternative energy methods, farm labor solutions, food waste technologies, automation and robotics, on-farm connectivity, animal identification and monitoring and animal transport technologies to name a few. 

On the food front, the farmer-owned Cooperative is seeking early-stage food product companies that are dairy-focused or dairy-based, including products using milk, cheese, butter, whey or other dairy-based ingredients. Companies developing innovative processing or manufacturing technologies for dairy products, including sustainable packaging, will also be considered. For more information, link HERE.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Wanting More Will Be Amplified in 2022! Is your product lineup ready to meet consumers’ expectations?


Photo source: Photo source: Rachel Vanni/Mochidoki

With 2021 being the year of restrictions—often times not knowing what they were and changing when you crossed city and state lines--consumers wanted more out of things they could control. This was particularly true with foods and beverages, and this trend of wanting an amplified experience is not going to go away. In fact, it is expected to intensify in 2022, with consumers wanting a lot more out of less, with the less referring to portion size, which is part of their effort to decrease food waste. It’s their small way to assist with the future of our planet. 

“One of the biggest shifts we are seeing is that the health of the planet is now the top concern of consumers,” says Lu Ann Williams, global insights director, Innova Market Insights. “Personal health has been the big concern for the past few years, but consumers now tell us that this has been surpassed by global issues.”

A sense of joint responsibility for our shared planet is guiding the choices consumers make and the lifestyles they wish to lead. Innova’s consumer study, conducted across 11 countries, revealed that when it comes to food choices, the top-two environmental actions people are taking are reducing waste (43% of respondents) and eating in moderation (32%).

This is why they want an amplified eating and drinking experience. They want more from every bite or sip. They want to make the calories count and be enjoyed. Health, responsibility and the simple craving for pleasure will all combine in 2022. This includes delivering amplified and authentic eating experiences. Authenticity can include flavors rooted in history and culture as well as the way a particular product was grown, made or produced. 

Flavor trends for 2022 are all about getting used to “the new normal.” This includes making our lives more sustainable and capturing consumer interest through flavor.

Balchem recently conducted consumer research (September 2021, n=320 respondents) on attitudes and behaviors related to ice cream buying and consumption habits. One interesting finding is that “names matter.”

The research showed that name and descriptions of flavors have influence when buying ice cream. Two out of five (44%) respondents said the name of the ice cream is a key factor in deciding what to buy, with 43% saying the description of the flavor is also important. Additionally, 23% said they buy certain flavors based on their current mood.

Photo source: Rachel Vanni/Mochidoki

When asked what factor is considered when buying ice cream, 55% said they will buy a flavor they would love themselves. When asked, 36% would buy something they think their family would love and only 15% said they would buy a flavor their kids would love. 

Balchem has identified a number of flavor trends for 2022 and beyond. One of them is “What’s Old Is New Again” and another is “Whimsical and Nostalgic.” This includes retro flavors and descriptors that focus on providing a pleasurable experience, and are the counter to another trend of being “Wellness Inspired.” 

The trend of “Global and Provenance” is fueling innovation in the mochi space, the hand-held Asian-inspired ice cream treat that provides an authentic, amplified eating experience, often times for under 100 calories. 

Mochidoki, for example, is a New York City mochi ice cream company that just opened its second brick-and-mortar location on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The new shop is all about providing consumers more of what they are looking for when going out for ice cream. It features family-friendly, zen garden-inspired outdoor seating and a whimsical, location-exclusive new flavor (Everything Bagel), as well as seasonal tea and mochi pairings. 

Mochidoki’s ingredient-driven ethos has amassed a loyal national following, and the brand has become the preferred mochi ice cream provider to top restaurant and hospitality groups nationwide, from Nobu and Tao to Wynn Resorts and Blue Ribbon. 

The Everything Bagel features cream cheese ice cream wrapped in light, chewy mochi, flavored with everything bagel spices, including garlic, salt, sesame and poppy seeds. It joins other famed flavors, including Red Bean with chopped azuki red beans, Black Honey Walnut with kuromitsu (Japanese molasses), Salted Caramel with cracked caramel candy and Matcha made with organic, premium matcha. 

To review more findings from the research and other flavor trends, link HERE

Real California Milk Excelerator

Sweet treats with functional benefits took home the four finalist spots in the Real California Milk Excelerator product innovation competition created by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) and VenureFuel. The finalists tap into the nutritional and flavor profiles of milk and dairy ingredients to deliver performance and recovery benefits in 
products consumers crave.

All four finalists complement one or more of Balchem’s trends for 2022. 

The finalists are:

Nightfood: Uniquely formulated by sleep experts and nutritionists, Nightfood ice cream delivers great taste for those nighttime cravings and a sleep-friend nutritional profile to help promote quality sleep.

ReThink Ice Cream: Low sugar, stomach and diabetic-friendly ice cream that is infused with fiber and sourced from lactose-free A2 dairy, ReThink Ice Cream is a decadent source of natural nutrition.

Sweetkiwi: Founded by a McKinsey 2021 Black Executive Leader and certified cultured dairy professional, Sweetkiwi makes whipped Greek yogurt that is low in calories and high in nutrition. The pints are under 320 calories and formulated with fiber, protein and probiotics for better gut health with fewer calories.

Wonder Monday Snacks: A 2020 RCM Snackcelerator finalist, the company returns with a new protein keto cheesecake snack bar with 10 grams of clean protein to indulgently refuel.
The final, live competition takes place on November 18 at 5:00pm PST. The finalists will compete for $150,000 in marketing support to bring their visions to market, with a runner-up receiving $100,000 towards the same goal. Registration for the event is available HERE