Thursday, June 15, 2023

How Can We Innovate By Doing More With Less?

It’s been a whirlwind of a few months of food conferences and expositions and it will all come to a head in one month when food and beverage formulators convene at Chicago’s McCormick Place for IFT FIRST (Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology). This is the place where food professionals discover the latest global trends, newest ingredient innovations and cutting-edge solutions to develop next-generation food and beverage innovations to be showcased at those food conferences and expositions. It’s a continuous circle of the needs of people and the planet fueling technologies to inspire product innovation to meet the needs of people and the planet. 

I will be at IFT FIRST representing the many titles of Sosland Publishing, including Baking & Snack, Dairy Processing, Food Business News, Meat + Poultry and Pet Food Processing. Have something amazing to share? Link HERE to schedule a meeting.

In addition to ingredient suppliers showcasing their toolbox of technologies to help food and beverage manufacturers reduce costs, here’s what to expect at this year’s IFT FIRST.

1. Putting the planet first. Sustainability messaging will dominate the conversation. It will be a way one supplier tries to differentiate from another. And surprisingly, it may be less about plant-based ingredients and more about reducing food waste. Many suppliers will address the topic of doing more with less food by reducing waste, extending shelf life and improving processing efficiencies. 

Here’s a milk example that uses processing technology to do more with less.

Müller Milk & Ingredients in the U.K. is helping shoppers reduce their food waste through the relaunch of its branded filtered milk range. Formerly called Müller Milk Fresh.Longer.Why?Filtered, the rebranded Müller Good Stuff Fresher for Longer lasts up to seven days when opened, or for up to three weeks unopened. 

It’s estimated that around 490 million pints of milk are wasted in the home in the U.K. each year, with one of the main causes of wastage listed as the milk not being used in time and going out of date. To read more about the study, link HERE.

Filtered milk lasts longer both open and unopened, meaning more time to drink it and less waste. 
Filtered milk currently represents the fastest-growing sector in milk, with a 46% increase in retail value sales since 2019, according to Nielsen data, and the Müller Milk brand has seen 30% volume growth year on year. 

The business intends to drive category growth with its existing Müller Milk range, and a new branded milk range called Müller Good Stuff. Müller Fresher for Longer represents the first product to land from the new range. 

Redesigned packaging informs consumers that the product is fresh from one of Müller’s partner farms in Britain. Shoppers are also informed that the bottle is 100% recyclable and contains at least 30% recycled material. “High in protein” and “100% natural-nothing added” messages have also been incorporated, following consumer research by Müller. 

“We know that shoppers are increasingly mindful of their food waste, while also facing into increased costs of living,” said Helen Priestley, marketing and category director for Müller Milk & Ingredients. 

2. Improving energy and focus. Natural caffeine from coffee, tea and cocoa ingredients, along with nootropics, will be a big buzz at IFT FIRST. After all, 40% of respondents to the 2023 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council said they seek out foods that provide energy/reduce fatigue. One out of four (25%) said they look for foods associated with brain function, such as improved memory, focus and cognition. Such product development efforts are not about reinventing the wheel. It’s taking familiar foods and adding functional nutrients…again, doing more with less. Just don’t forget about making them taste great!

3. Putting the gut first. Consumers have learned during the past few years that there is a direct correlation between the microorganisms that take up residence in their gut and their overall health and wellness. Interest in gut microbiome-supporting solutions are on the rise. Advancements in physiology and gastroenterology suggest that other dietary compounds beyond probiotic cultures and prebiotic fibers may assist with gut health. Certain polyphenols, for example, have been shown to function like prebiotics. And then there’s the emerging category of postbiotics, the compounds that probiotics produce in the gut that can be added directly into a food formulation for the same purported benefit. 

Building on gut health is the emerging study of the gut-brain axis. If you have not heard this phrase, it’s time to learn about it. It’s a collective term for all the channels of direct and indirect communication that exist between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. The microbiome influences production of the substances involved in those communication channels. 

Learning from Kraft Heinz

Here’s what we can learn from Kraft Heinz about doing more with less. Earlier this month, Heinz launched The United States of Saucemerica Collection: a new, limited-edition line-up of 50 U.S.-inspired condiment packet designs. The packets will be available through the end of August. The company is encouraging fans to collect as many different states’ packets as possible and upload them for a chance to win various cash prizes. 

Each Saucemerica packet features either Heinz Ketchup, Yellow Mustard, Real Mayonnaise, Ranch, BBQ Sauce, Tartar Sauce or Simply Ketchup. The packet designs draw inspiration from the most beloved dishes from each of the 50 states. From a Maryland Crab Cake-inspired Tartar Sauce packet to Texas Brisket BBQ Sauce, Heinz carefully paired each state with the condiment variety that best enhances the dish spotlighted. 

Is there a way to make yogurt cups, milk jug caps or ice cream bar sticks collectables---once again? During these inflationary times, let’s do more with less to stay relevant to consumers. 

got innovation? enter the execelerator

The 5th year of the Real California Milk Excelerator, in partnership with the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) and VentureFuel, is back. Do you have an innovation to submit to the contest?  

As the largest global dairy accelerator, the program seeks anyone building any product made with at least 50% dairy, including, but not limited to foods, beverages, personal care products, packaging, material sciences, textiles, pet products or anything else using dairy in an innovative way. This year’s competition offers a value of up to $500,000 in prize money and program value for products that introduce novel applications in any form and drive utilization of Real California dairy.

During the past four years, the Real California Milk Excelerator has worked with 45 startups across numerous categories including food, beverage, direct-to-consumer platforms, textiles and personal care. Representing nearly 40% of states across the U.S., program alumni have gone from idea to distribution with organizations such as UNFI and KeHE; and many can now be found on the shelves of retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, Amazon and Whole Foods.

“The program has grown and evolved over the last five years as we’ve had the pleasure of bringing some interesting, innovative and delicious products to the market using milk from our California dairy families. What hasn’t changed is our focus on creating the future for dairy product innovation in whatever form that takes,” says John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “Real dairy continues to be an attractive tool for product developers, with functional and practical benefits hard to replicate. The business insight, contacts, and tools this program offers, along with the marketing power of the Real California Milk seal, makes this a golden opportunity for brands.” 

Each of the eight participants selected for the 2023 cohort will have access to a group stipend and a robust network of resources to refine and scale their product and business. They will also participate in the CMAB/VentureFuel Mentorship Program, consisting of elite counsel from successful founders, investors, leading corporate executives, and experts across design, marketing, sales, manufacturing, distribution, farming and processing industries. Past mentors have included venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs and executives from organizations like Unilever, UNFI and Mondelez, to name a few. The deadline to apply is July 7, 2023.

For more information, link HERE.

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