Thursday, January 19, 2023

Commit to Innovating with Probiotics and Protein in 2023


Happy New Year! It’s been a few weeks since I blogged, as the year kicked off with a trip to Tampa to watch the Illini (my alma mater) play (and lose) in a Bowl game. That was quickly followed with going to Orange County to speak at the inaugural “Coffee, Tea and Creamers: The Art and Science of Milk in Beverages” short course at Chapman University. This was one of a number of programs from the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative Pacific Coast Coalition funded by USDA-AMS, in collaboration with the California Dairy Innovation Center. And then there was the Winter Fancy Food Show this week in Las Vegas. 

The two industry events confirmed that startups and entrepreneurs are embracing dairy to make everything from milk tea boba to high-protein snacking cheesecakes to culinary-inspired butters. Link HERE to my Food Business News dairy-focused overview and slide show from the Winter Fancy Food Show. (The Bowl trip reminded me I am getting too old to day drink at an outdoor sports event.)  

Let’s kick start this year with what I believe will be the two most important attributes to market in dairy foods this coming year. They are probiotics and protein. 

Here’s some great news. After nearly three years of shifting priorities, the dairy industry is starting to prioritize new product development and innovation again, according to Cypress Research, Kansas City, Mo. Probiotics and protein are the two most important ingredient trends for those who participated in this confidential survey of U.S. dairy processors on behalf of Dairy Processing

I will assist with discussing findings from this survey during a free webinar on Feb. 8, 2023. Link HERE to register. 

Interest in these two ingredient categories should not be surprising, as almost all of the food and beverage trend reports and forecasts for 2023 rank gut health/immunity as a consumer priority, with protein maintaining a prominent force in health and wellness programs. One of the most reputable authorities on food and consumer trends is the International Food Information Council (IFIC), which has stated that 2023 will be a year all about healthful beverages and demands for probiotics and protein, among other trends. 

Let’s jump straight to the gut. IFIC explains that probiotics have been steadily growing in popularity, with digestive/gut health being the third most commonly sought-after benefit among Americans. Don’t expect that interest to wane in the coming year, and expect to see them more and more beyond the yogurt section, as probiotics are increasingly being added to non-traditional foods, like chocolate, ice cream, juices, sauces and even nutrition bars. 

Beverages, specifically, are viewed as an ideal delivery system for probiotics. According to IFIC’s 2022 Consumer Insights on Gut Health and Probiotics Survey, of those who try to consume probiotics, 25% say they commonly seek them out in wellness drinks. 

IFIC’s conversation on protein is that plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy are old hat, but plant-based pasta, rice and snacks will be a growing trend in 2023. These products point a new lens on sustainability and innovation, often relying on “upcycling,” which takes plant-based food components that ordinarily would have gone to waste and processes them for use in other products. Upcycling reduces food waste and contributes to sustainable food production. 

It is true. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with innovative, plant-based food alternatives, a trend that should continue in 2023. But the majority still love meat and dairy. It is paramount that the dairy industry “change the narrative about the power of dairy protein.” Link HERE to read a recent piece I wrote on this topic for Food Business News

Want to learn more about formulating with dairy proteins? Link HERE to register for the American Dairy Products Institute's "Dairy Ingredients 360 Dairy Course" starting Feb. 9, 2023. 

And here’s another good read. Link HERE to read “Consumer interest driving gut health innovation.” 

Please commit to innovating with probiotics and dairy proteins in 2023. Happy New Year!

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