Friday, January 14, 2022

The Year of Keto Claims


The Fresh Thyme Market near my gym recently placed “keto friendly” shelf tags throughout the store to help consumers identify foods compliant with the keto dietary lifestyle. They can be found by creamers, cheese and eggs, among other products. 

While keto is not legally defined, most keto dietary plans suggest consuming less than 30 grams of net carbohydrates per day. To put that in perspective, a two-thirds cup serving of traditional vanilla ice cream contains about 25 grams of net carbs.  

So what are net carbohydrates and why keep them low? Like keto, the measurement of net carbs is also not legally defined. The industry-accepted definition is a measure of the carbohydrates that the body digests, in other words, caloric carbohydrates. This is everything from wheat flour to honey, as well as the sugars naturally found in milk, fruits and vegetables. Grams of net carbs are calculated by subtracting grams of fibers and sugar alcohols from total grams of carbohydrates.

With sugar reduction fueling the health and wellness trend, along with fats no longer the enemy and protein the shining star, a keto-friendly label helps consumers choose foods that they believe are heathier for them. 

“During the pandemic, many consumers changed their diet to keto for better health or shedding excess pounds,” according to the “Keto and Paleo Consumers: High Protein/Low Carb Diet Trends and Opportunities” report from Packaged Facts. The November 2021 report states that 5% of consumers follow the keto diet always or almost always and that there is broad consumer interest for occasional usage of keto-friendly foods. 

Based on the number of new keto-friendly product announcements I’ve received in the past month, marketers have taken note about the opportunities to better target those with occasional interest. Retailers such as Fresh Thyme Market are embracing this opportunity, too.  

The keto diet mandates very-low carbohydrate intake, high fat and adequate protein content. It forces the body to burn fat by making carbohydrates scarce. It’s about 70% fat, 20% protein, and 5% each simple carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables. 

Medical doctors started using a high-fat, moderate-protein and very-low-carbohydrate diet to control seizures in patients with epilepsy in the 1920s. It’s only been in the past decade or so that this eating pattern became associated with weight loss. While many food marketers were skeptical on the longevity of its popularity, it’s safe to say that it is definitely the four-letter word of the year. 

General Mills has been playing in the keto space for some time. During the summer of 2020, the company introduced the :ratio line of snacks, which included yogurt-type cultured dairy cups and crunchy bars. The primary components of the dairy snacks are ultra-filtered nonfat milk, milk, milk fat and avocado oil. The addition of non-dairy fat prevents the product from being called yogurt, per the U.S. standard of identify for yogurt. The product, however, is cultured with yogurt cultures (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus). Thus, the product is described as “flavored yogurt cultured dairy snack.” 

Less than a year later, :ratio protein joined the lineup. The primary components of these dairy snacks are ultra-filtered nonfat milk and whey protein concentrate.

For the New Year, the :ratio brand introduced a range of new products that span across categories aimed at providing consumers with variety. All of the products have 1 gram of sugar per serving and provide a convenient option for consumers tracking macronutrients.

There are new flavors of :ratio Keto Dairy Snacks. Blueberry, Mixed Berry and Peach are joining the original five: Black Cherry, Coconut, Mango, Strawberry and Vanilla. One serving provides 15 grams of protein. There’s also new :ratio Keto Granola, :ratio Keto Soft Baked Bars and new keto-friendly Wonderworks Frosted cereal.

In August 2021, Trimona Foods, the maker of Trimona Bulgarian Yogurt, had its entire product line Keto Verified. With zero added sugars and A2/A2 tested organic milk, Trimona meets the needs of keto diet followers and the “keto-curious” by offering an easy way to add fermented dairy to the daily diet. 

It’s possible for dairy processors to take keto friendly to the next level by touting the presence of better-for-you practices, such as grass fed and regenerative agriculture. Such specialty items are being sought out by health-conscious consumers who want to make a difference, for themselves and the planet. They also command a premium, which makes them attractive to retailers. 

Condolences for Dr. John Bruhn

It is with a heavy heart that I share the loss of a dear friend to many of us in the dairy industry. Dr. John Bruhn of Davis, California, passed on Dec. 18, 2021. 

You can read about his amazing life and accomplishments HERE.

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