Friday, November 4, 2022

Driving Consumption of Dairy Includes Innovating for New Occasions


Driving consumption of dairy foods—nutrition powerhouses—is why most of you read this blog. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through innovation, but not just a new flavor or new package size. It’s about creating new use occasions and solving a consumer need. Why not ice cream for breakfast? (For ideas, scroll to the end or link banner and request more information.)

This past Wednesday I judged the in-person 4th Annual Real California Milk Excelerator. The “Open Innovation” Final Pitch Event included eight innovators who presented their already in-market products to eight judges. All eight were winners to make it this far. Congrats! But there were four that stood out as businesses that will help drive growth of dairy, specifically California dairy. All products in the competition must contain at least 50% of a cow’s milk-based product/ingredient.

The eight companies participated in a 10-week program where they had access to resources, customized mentorship and a stipend to cover costs associated with producing, developing, and fine-tuning their products and business plans. The four winners from Wednesday night each received $50,000. These funds are to help develop and/or expand their business, including sourcing dairy from and producing their products in California. They also have access to an exclusive Retailer and Investor event (held virtually) to generate business leads and investment opportunities. A grand prize of $100,000 will be offered to a single product with the most sales and potential one year from the live pitch event. This grand prize will be delivered in the form of marketing support to help accelerate the winner’s product and business in California. 

The four companies moving into this final phase of the Excelerator are Dosa by Dosa, Pariva, Tres Lecheria and Wheyward Spirit. (Winners pictured above.)

Dosa by Dosa is a line of spice-forward lassi drinks. The four varieties contain up to 13 grams of protein and less than 8 grams of added sugar per 8-ounce bottle. With billions of probiotics per serving, this 100% natural, lactose-free, gluten-free snack, rich in calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin A helps maintain good gut health. Varieties are Cardamom Mango, Cayenne Tamarind, Turmeric Banana and Peppercorn Berry. 

Pariva Marinated Yogurt Bites are similar to labneh, a popular Mediterranean and Middle Eastern yogurt spread that is often topped with olive oil. Pariva is crafted by straining whole cow’s milk yogurt before being formed into bite-sized balls. These balls are immersed in heart-healthy oils with herbs and spices where they subtly absorb the mélange of flavors in the jar while allowing the tanginess of the yogurt to shine through. There are three varieties: Garlic & Rosemary, Tandoori and Za’atar.

Tres Lecheria is a bakery business specializing in Tres Leches cakes by the slice. Available in more than 10 flavors daily at its Seattle flagship store, the tres leches cake slices offer a unique alternative to ice cream and other cold desserts. Tres Lecheria is building its retail program that currently services 40-plus accounts between Washington and Oregon and has recently expanded in Southern California. The cakes are about 80% dairy, as they are made with three milks and whipped cream.

Wheyward Spirit is a specialty alcohol uniquely distilled to retain its distinctive dairy flavor. The company is repurposing excess whey to make this new spirit, which can be consumed in the same manner as vodka. During the fermentation process, yeast converts the sugar (lactose) from whey into alcohol. This product is then distilled. No lactose remains in the final product so it is completely lactose free. The spirit highlights whey’s naturally delicate and creamy characteristics and has a signature flavor of oaky vanilla cream and warm spice notes, rounded by a subtle pear aroma. Every bottle of Wheyward Spirit diverts food waste, adds value to local food chains and generates a lower carbon and water footprint than traditional grain-based spirits. (Wheyward Spirit was also the Audience Choice.)

“Real dairy provides a package of functional and practical benefits that’s hard to replicate. We’re seeing an increase in unique products that leverage these benefits emerging in the market,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “With the Excelerator platforms we’ve established over the past four years, we will be able to support companies as they innovate and establish these products in the market.” 

For more information on the event, including access to the recording, link HERE.

And again, why not ice cream for breakfast? Scroll down for an infographic with ideas. Link on the banner and request more information from Balchem on expanding the meal occasion for ice cream. Think Lemon Poppy Seed with a Citrus Swirl, Buttermilk Biscuit with Berries and Cream, and even Avocado Toast. 

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