Thursday, May 18, 2023

Customization and Authenticity are Key to Making Gen Z your Customer


Irish milk brand Avonmore is launching a milk with added fiber and vitamins. Each 250-milliliter glass of the low-fat white milk contains 6 grams of fiber from chicory root. 

“Digestive health is a key area of concern for consumers and with this product launch, we hope to provide an easy and convenient solution for consumers to increase their fiber intake, whilst the addition of vitamins C and D will also help to address consumers growing desire for products that support the immune system,” said Gráinne Murray, senior brand manager at Tirlán, which owns the Avonmore brand. 

The first iPod debuted in October 2001. My Gen Z son was just turning two and his brother was still getting baked in my oven. They grew up listening to a personalized playlist consisting of Baby Mozart, with a sprinkling of School House Rock and the occasional Crazy Frog to dance all their toddler energy out. They heard mom—me—place my order at Starbucks, “grande non-fat latte, no foam, 140 degrees.” I’ve always ordered food—fast-food, quick-serve and white table cloth—like a (When Harry Met) Sally. (No offense to all the Sallys out there.) 

I know I am not the only Gen Z’er who unintentionally trained their offspring to “get it the way you want it.” In other words, personalize it. 

Tapan Shah, head of venture capital-snack futures, Mondelez International, spoke at the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network event at CoLaboratory in Chicago this week. When discussing the company’s multi-tier approach to the snack food category, which includes investments, and often eventually acquisitions, in start-ups, he emphasized that “food is insanely personal.” 

It was not always this way. There was a point in time when you ate what was served at the dinner table, such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, peas and carrots, and, of course, a tall glass of milk. That is not coming back. Repeat after me: That is not coming back. 

Big Food is addressing the personalization and customization movement. And as more options make their way to market, the greater the consumers’ expectations. 

The 2023 National Restaurant Association Show kicks off on Saturday in Chicago. This is where Kraft Heinz will debut the Heinz Remix, with plans to pilot the innovation with restaurant operators in late 2023 to early 2024. 

As a condiment-obsessed individual—part of that Sally trait—I wish I could get one of these machines in my home. This automated sauce dispenser allows consumers to personalize their own flavor creations, with more than 200 possible sauce combinations. The free-standing machine is touchscreen operated, enabling consumers to first select from a range of “bases”—currently Heinz-brand Ketchup, Ranch, 57 Sauce and BBQ Sauce—then personalize further with one or more “enhancers”—currently Jalapeño, Smoky Chipotle, Buffalo and Mango—at their preferred intensity level (low, medium or high). 

“As a company, we’re transforming through innovation by making bigger, more intentional bets to fuel our growth and create new experiences for consumers,” said Alan Kleinerman, vice president of disruption at Kraft Heinz. “Heinz Remix is a great example of this consumer-first approach to innovation. We’re changing the game for foodservice operators and sauce lovers. Dipping will never be the same.”

This is true, as is the fact that “you will eat what I serve” will never be the norm again.
“With Heinz Remix, it’s more than a sauce dispenser; it’s an insights engine and business model enabler that will help Kraft Heinz understand and respond to consumer trends and flavor preferences in real-time,” said Kleinerman. “Who knows, maybe our next new sauce combination will come from a superfan using Heinz Remix.”

“The launch of Heinz Remix is a first for the sauce category and foodservice industry,” said Peter Hall, president, U.S. Away from Home for Kraft Heinz. “It’s a great example of how we’re leveraging culinary insights and category knowledge to drive greater value for our customers and consumers. Our ambition is to be the leader for taste, flavor and experience anywhere you’re eating, and we’re delivering on that goal with category leading innovations like Heinz Remix.” 

As Kraft Heinz continues on its journey to lead the future of food, the company is focused on creative disruption across the entire organization, breaking down siloes to cultivate collaboration, reimagining product development and utilizing digital capabilities to accelerate the pace of innovation. 
Is your company playing like this? The time is now. 

Recent research from Morning Consult, Washington D.C., shows that Gen Zers are 21 percentage points more likely than the general population to say they tried a new beverage in the course of a month and 11 points more likely to say they tried a new packaged food. They allocate more of their wallet to the food and beverage category than to other categories, such as apparel, electronics or beauty. 

Novelty and experimentation will help brands connect with Gen Z, but that doesn’t always have to be in the form of new product innovation. Brands can also win Gen Zers’ hearts with ideas for new flavor combinations, recipes, serving suggestions or even new occasions. 

In other words, speak to their individual needs. These may be needs they are not even unaware of, such as fiber intake. 

“Experimentation is a part of growing up. This is especially true for Gen Zers, who are coming of age in a choice-filled marketplace with more channels to influence their purchase decisions. This effectively speeds up the experimentation cycle because it offers Gen Zers more touch points to learn about a wide range of options faster than ever before,” according to the Morning Consult research. (Surveys were conducted Nov. 2 to 8, 2022, among representative samples of 2,210 U.S. adults and 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25.)

Here's where it gets really GREAT for dairy. Morning Consult research shows that Gen Zers’ favorite foods tend to be more traditional. When given a blank space to name their favorite foods, roughly 20% of Gen Zers mentioned pizza. Other foods that garnered high mentions were chicken (including nuggets, strips and wings), pasta and burgers.

“It’s possible that Gen Zers’ experimentation may decline as they grow older, but it won’t completely go away,” according to Emily Moquin, the lead food and beverage analyst on the Industry Intelligence team at Morning Consult. “In the coming years, they will further don the responsibility of primary household grocery shopping and perhaps settle into some habits along the way. But, as members of the most diverse generation of Americans, with more channels of exposure to global trends and more ways to purchase increasingly niche products, Gen Zers’ penchant for trying new foods and beverages, whether it’s through buzzworthy mashups or novel functional benefits, seems likely to last a lifetime.”

One of those novel functional benefits comes in the form of fiber. But not all fibers are created equal. And it appears that prebiotic fiber may address some health and wellness issues that Gen Z prioritizes.

Emerging research presented during an April 18, 2023, session at SupplySide East in Secaucus, N.J., suggests that a healthy gut may benefit other areas of wellness, including mood, anxiety, cognition and sleep, according to Len Monheit, executive director, Global Prebiotic Association, Spring, Texas. He explained that gut/health digestion are the primary reasons why consumers purchase products containing prebiotics. But, as science emerges, and consumers get educated, there are other reasons. 

According to a 2023 supplement survey from Industry Transparency Center cited by Monheit, 38% of respondents said they take prebiotics for gut/health digestion, 26% for immunity health, 17% for regularity, 15% for microbiome health and 14% for antioxidant properties. He believes there’s a lot of room for growth as consumers become more aware of prebiotics and their functions. 

Again, these are functions Gen Z is interested in. Dairy foods are an ideal delivery vehicle for prebiotic fibers. 

A 2022 survey of 10,000 consumers in 10 countries conducted by FMCG Gurus, a market research company, and commissioned by BENEO, shows that three out of four (77%) of global consumers who purchase prebiotics have been doing so for less than two years, while 28% of global consumers who do not purchase prebiotics say that they have not seen them available.

The time is now! 

Fifty-four percent of the participants said they were aware of prebiotics, and about 30% said they were aware that chicory root fiber and inulin are prebiotics. These are the most widely used prebiotic fiber ingredients in food and beverage. 

When asked why they purchased foods and drinks containing prebiotics, 73% said digestive health and another 73% said general well-being. In fact, consumers said they are looking to address areas of well-being even if they are not suffering from symptoms, even if they are satisfied with that area of health.
This is what Gen Z is all about!

Science matters. Three out of four respondents said the most important factors when choosing a food or drink containing prebiotics are product efficacy, health claims and science-based claims.
“The fact that reliable claims, backed by science, are top of consumers’ wish list reinforces the approach we have taken over the past 20 years in supporting scientific prebiotic research for our ingredients,” said Myriam Snaet, head of market intelligence and consumer insights, BENEO. 

To read more about “The Forgotten Nutrient—Fiber—Presents Innovation Opportunities for Dairy Product Developers,” link HERE.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Be Ahead of the Trend: Market Dairy Foods as Mood Foods


Photo source: Etsy

Multiple times this week I have either read or heard the term “mood foods,” most notably on Wednesday when Liz Moskow, a food futurist based in Denver, spoke at the American Spice Trade Association annual conference. She identified mood foods as an upcoming space for food innovators. 

Mood foods are a natural progression from the comfort foods we have been craving the past few years. It’s also a natural evolution in the better-for-you foods sector. Moods foods remain better-for-you foods, containing more of the good stuff and fewer refined sugars and processing. It’s just another layer of premiumization. Call it a layer of love, of loving thyself. 

Mood foods are part of the self-care movement. And, it’s growing in popularity among young adults, many of whom have not gotten over the mental trauma of the pandemic. 

“Healthy is in the Head,” a recent global study from HealthFocus USA, identified a group of consumers highly committed to eating for mental and emotional well-being. Compared to others, these “mood-food consumers” place the highest level of importance on choosing foods and beverages that enhance their mood and emotional health and say they always consider their emotional health when they choose products. Thus, they are much more proactive about their health than the average shopper. What specifically sets them apart? Turns out, a lot, according to Cali Amos, director of human insights at HealthFocus.

“Health is no longer rooted in the physical. Consumers now view emotional well-being as the cornerstone of health, fueling greater desire for mental power, feeling confident and stress reduction,” said Amos. “Eighteen-to-29 year olds struggle the most with mental/emotional health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression and mood swings, and they are turning to foods and beverages to help them cope. Mood/emotional health benefits play an important role in their food and beverage choices, ahead of physical health and even nutrition.”

Source: Healthy is in the Head, HealthFocus USA

Mood foods are in their infancy, and dairy foods are well poised to play in this space. The protein and fat content of many dairy foods satiates and helps the body function at its best. Specifically, the essential amino acid tryptophan, which whole milk is one of the best food sources, is associated with making one’s mood more stable and reduce extremes in behavior by restoring the balance of certain natural substances, such as serotonin and melatonin, in the brain.

Tryptophan must be obtained through diet, and animal proteins are the best source. It was discovered in the early 1900s after it was isolated from casein in milk. 

Tryptophan has the lowest concentration in the body of any amino acid, yet, it is vital for a wide variety of metabolic functions that affect your mood, cognition and behavior, according to WebMD. Tryptophan elimination experiments have shown that tryptophan has a beneficial impact on mood, depression, learning, memory skills, visual cognition and aggression control.

Tryptophan in the Thanksgiving turkey is what causes drowsiness after the feast. It’s also the reason a warm glass of milk is good before bedtime and a pint of ice cream soothes a broken heart. 

Source: 2023 HealthFocus USA Trend Report

As mentioned, whole milk is one of the largest sources of tryptophan. Thus, anything made with whole milk also delivers. Think ice cream, cheese and yogurt. This means that dairy processors are starting with a base ingredient to which other mood-modifying ingredients may be added for extra benefits. explains that there is evidence that depression can be caused by a low-level inflammatory disorder or a deficiency of certain nutrients. By making some lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and avoiding sugar, highly processed foods and simple carbohydrates, you can lift your mood and reduce inflammation that can lead to chronic health issues such as heart disease, metabolic disorders and even cancer.      

Grace O, cookbook author and founder of FoodTrients, has compiled a list of foods that can enhance moods, in other words, mood foods. Many of these make sense in combination with dairy foods. 

Beets, spinach, edamame, beans and lentils, for example, contain high levels of folate, which supports cognition and a good mood. The red color of tomatoes and watermelon means they’re both full of lycopene, which helps prevent the formation of inflammatory compounds that can contribute to poor mood. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which helps reduce inflammation in the body and brain. The chromium in garlic acts as natural mood stabilizers. And, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, with their fiber content being good for gut health and feelings of well-being.
For a complete list of good mood foods, link HERE

Speaking of gut health, while we know probiotics and prebiotics assist with a healthy digestive system, new research shows that these biotics may also play in the mood foods space. Emerging research presented during an April 18, 2023, session at SupplySide East, suggests that a healthy gut may benefit other areas of wellness, including mood, anxiety, cognition and sleep, according to Len Monheit, executive director, Global Prebiotic Association, Spring, Texas. He explained that gut/health digestion are the primary reasons why consumers purchase products containing prebiotics. But, as science emerges, and consumers get educated, there are other reasons. 

When consumers were asked why they purchased foods and drinks containing prebiotics, 73% said digestive health and another 73% said general well-being, according to a 2023 supplement survey from Industry Transparency Center cited by Monheit. In fact, consumers said they are looking to address areas of well-being even if they are not suffering from symptoms, even if they are satisfied with that area of health.

Ralf Jäger, managing member for Increnovo LLC, a global independent consulting firm based in Milwaukee, said that probiotics have been shown to significantly increase levels of serotonin. He cited a study published in 2019 in Frontiers in Psychiatry showing probiotic strains significantly improved sleep quality and mood (anger, fatigue and depression). The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 38 adults and 4 probiotic strains. 

You can read more about the study HERE.

Photo source: Former MOOD Ice Cream of Oakland, Calif., was a company before its time. The ice cream pop up and delivery shop created small-batch, handcrafted ice creams designed to lift spirits.

Let’s not forget chocolate and how it has long been a go-to for uplifting spirits. Chocolate is associated with increasing the amount of tryptophan entering the brain. The more tryptophan that crosses the blood-brain barrier, the more the body synthesizes serotonin and the fewer depressive symptoms one may experience. Chocolate and dairy foods are a match made in heaven. 

It’s time to get in the mood for mood foods. No mood ring required. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

It’s Time to Get Real…and Many Dairy Processors Have Started Doing It. Lots of kudos in this week’s blog!


Lots of kudos this week. 

“Made with Real Dairy.” “Made with Real Milk.” Start using these words on packaging and marketing. 

Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., released a new limited-edition variety pack of snack-sized ice cream bars dipped in chocolate, marking the company’s debut in the frozen novelty space. Each multi-pack of Small Batch Premium Just Dipped Mini Classic Ice Cream Bars comes with 12 individually wrapped 1.5-ounce stick novelties in a combination of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors. Packages boldly state: Made with Real Milk.

“Just like our ice cream, each bar starts with the basics, milk and cream from our family-owned dairy farms,” says Matt McClelland, chief executive officer and executive vice president. 

Thank you, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., for marketing the deliciousness of Real Milk. 

Wood Milk is not “Made with Real Milk.” MilkPEP’s latest campaign has got the country—even the world—talking, and frankly, in my opinion, that’s just what dairy milk needed.

Don’t know what’s Wood Milk? Watch the commercial HERE

“Showing up in unexpected ways and tying into modern culture (including conversations) is part of our strategic approach for our cheeky got milk? campaign,” according to MilkPEP. “Parallel to our ‘You’re Gonna Need Milk’ platform, which is focused on highlighting milk as a performance beverage, Wood Milk taps into got milk?’s cultural currency, that celebrates the original milk--real dairy milk.

Joining conversations already in progress helps us influence the narrative. Many consumers incorrectly believe that alternative non-dairy beverages are healthier than dairy because of the ‘plant-based’ halo effect. The comedy of Wood Milk helps to showcase the truth that only real milk contains ‌13‌ essential nutrients that have helped fuel the performance of everyday consumers for centuries. No imitation can compete.”

Thank you, Wood Milk, for showing the world the truth. 

Read HERE regarding what Adweek has to say about the campaign.

Need help lowering sugar in your dairy products? Link HERE to watch a webinar from today’s blog sponsor: Idaho Milk. 

Commit to lowering the “added sugar” content of REAL dairy foods. This week I received my samples of Clover the Rainbow Milk with a Splash of Flavor. The product is OUTSTANDING! 

Thank you, Clover Sonoma!

In case you missed it, new Clover the Rainbow Milk with a Splash of Flavor is designed for kids and kids at heart. The milk comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors and is made with 100% USDA organic 2% lactose-free milk. Lactase enzyme is added to eliminate lactose and assist with natural sweetness. 
  • Chocolate has 2 grams of added organic cane sugar. It is made with organic cocoa and organic natural flavors. One cup contains 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 14 grams of sugar of which 12 grams are inherent, and 8 grams of protein. 
  • Strawberry has no added sugars. It is made with strawberry juice concentrate and natural flavors. One cup contains 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of inherent sugar and 8 grams of protein. 
  • Vanilla has no added sugars. It is made with organic vanilla extract and natural flavors. One cup contains 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of inherent sugar and 8 grams of protein. 
The role of beverages is expanding as consumers look to beverages to provide benefits they typically get from foods, and health expectations are mounting, according to the new “2023 USA Trend Report—Shoppers’ Journey Towards Living & Eating Healthier,” from HealthFocus International. Beverages have become the testing ground for delivering the latest health and wellness trends consumers are looking for. This is especially true for younger consumers. 

Source: 2023 USA Trend Report—Shoppers’ Journey Towards Living & Eating Healthier, from HealthFocus International

That’s why former First Lady Michelle Obama is starting with beverages as she adds food entrepreneur to her already impressive resume. At The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival on May 3, Obama delivered closing remarks on the state of children’s health in the U.S. and urged the thousands of industry leaders in the room and streaming online to be part of the change that will bring this generation of kids into a healthier future. 

That is YOU!

As part of her remarks, Obama announced the launch of PLEZi Nutrition, a Public Benefit Company on a mission to create higher standards for how the U.S. makes and markets foods and beverages for kids, leading with nutrition, taste and truth. 

Link HERE to read more about PLEZi Nutrition.

The U.S. is in a nutrition-related health crisis. Kids are not getting the recommended levels of nutrients they need, and they are consuming far too much added sugar, on average, 53 pounds of added sugar per year. Sugar-sweetened beverages, also referred to as sugary drinks, are the leading source of added sugar, and nearly two-thirds of youth consume sugary drinks on a given day. 

Read the White House report on this issue HERE.

Building on her efforts in the White House with her Let’s Move! initiative, Obama is a co-founder and strategic partner with PLEZi Nutrition, working behind-the-scenes to guide the company’s mission to be a driver of change and a model for how food and beverage brands can support the health of our next generation.

“I’ve learned that on this issue, if you want to change the game, you can’t just work from the outside. You’ve got to get inside. You’ve got to find ways to change the food and beverage industry itself,” she said. “I’m proud to announce the national launch of a company designed not just to provide better products, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry.”

PLEZi Nutrition was created to give parents a helping hand by offering healthier, great-tasting products that parents can feel good about giving their kids and that kids actually want. The company is focused on lowering sugar content and lowering sweetness to help adjust kids’ palates to crave less sweetness overall. In addition to reducing the sugar and sweetness, they are adding in nutrients kids need, all with the aim to replace sugary drinks and snacks.

PLEZi Nutrition’s first product—a drink called PLEZi, intended for kids ages 6 to 12 years old—has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus fiber and nutrients, like potassium, magnesium and zinc. Currently available in four flavors nationwide at Target and Sprouts and online at Walmart, PLEZi’s goal is to ultimately be available anywhere you can buy a soda or sports drink. The company plans to expand into additional beverages and snacks in the years ahead. 


“We’re starting with a beverage because we know how much concern parents and pediatricians have about sugary drinks,” she states on the company website. 

“Make no mistake, water and (REAL) milk—along with whole fruits and vegetables—are still the best option for your kids. And the latest guidelines confirm that kids shouldn’t be regularly drinking anything other than water or (REAL) milk until they are at least five years old,” writes Obama.

Thank you, Michelle Obama!

More than an effort to create better products, PLEZi Nutrition will also provide an educational platform for parents and kids. A sizable portion of the marketing budget will be dedicated to promotional content around what’s best for kids’ health. PLEZi Nutrition believes kids should be drinking water as their primary beverage. The company will actively promote drinking water and eating whole fruits and vegetables. PLEZi is intended to replace sugary drinks and snacks that do not support kids’ health and to help promote healthier habits.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It’s OK to have a margarita today!