Friday, July 28, 2023

The Pint Package Gains Presence in the Freezer with Unique Concepts


As we wrap up July, National Ice Cream Month, it seems appropriate to once again discuss the pint package in the freezer. Pints are a powerful package size in the world of ice cream. By definition, pints hold 16 fluid ounces of product; however, for economics, some “pint” packs contain a little less.

Regardless of how much is inside, pints cost more--often a lot more—on a per-ounce-base than larger-sized ice cream containers. In fact, numerous artisan, hand-crafted brands command more than $10 per pint at retail. Such smaller-sized containers, though more expensive, invite consumers to try something new. There’s less product, and thus less risk of waste if you don’t like it.

With concern over inflation at the lowest it has been in the past 12 months, shoppers are firing up the grill and stocking the freezer with their favorite summer treats. That includes ice cream! In 84.51’s July Consumer Digest, the Cincinnati-based data powerhouse provides real-time insights on consumer’s path to purchase and their key decision points, along with what’s in their summer shopping baskets. 

Half of shoppers surveyed said they are purchasing more ice cream than usual this summer. Ice cream is the top impulse buy for shoppers, with more than two out of three (69%) shoppers saying they are most likely to decide to purchase ice cream/novelties during their shopping trip. That’s more than snacks/candy (67%), fresh bakery (63%) and produce (45%). And more consumers are shopping in-store, according to 84.51. That’s a great opportunity for ice cream, which makes eye-catching flavor descriptions and cool package graphics on ice cream pints very attractive to the impulse shopper. 

Pints help ice cream manufacturers overcome formulation challenges associated with adding lots of inclusions, especially variegates and fruit sauces that impact freezing temperature and product integrity over shelf life. Pints also allow for unique formulations, such as layers and cores. This is something Ben & Jerry’s taught the ice cream industry when the brand started packing in chunks, chips, swirls and all types of flavorful ingredients that could cause the aerated ice cream mixture to collapse in a larger-sized container that would go in and out of the home freezer for multiple eating occasions.

Recent Rollouts

Just this week, legendary hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg, along with the Happi Co., broke into the frozen dessert aisle with Dr. Bombay Ice Cream. The seven-variety line of pints promises an experience that will help “free ya mind and rock your taste buds to the core.” Customers can expect a unique, yet nostalgic experience with Dr. Bombay Ice Cream. Snoop Dogg selected the flavors to curate an ice cream collection that allows them to find their own flava. Varieties are Bonus Track Brownie, Cocoa Cream Cookie Dream, Iced Out Orange Cream, Rollin’ In the Dough, S’more Vibes, Syrupy Waffle Sundaze Tropical Sherbet Swizzle.

“Ice cream is more than just a snack to me; it’s a way to chill, relax and get happy,” says Snoop Dog. “That’s exactly what I want Dr. Bombay Ice Cream to do, bring a smile to your face and ease your mind. I’ve poured my heart and soul into perfecting these first seven flavors, and I can’t wait for my fans and the world to experience what I’ve created. Fans will also notice that my sidekick, Dr. Bombay, is the name, face and persona of this brand. That’s because he’s like a son to me and you always want your kids to be more successful than you are. That’s my goal in building this lifestyle brand, starting with ice cream.”

Enlightened, the first and largest brand within Beyond Better Foods, a New York City-based company founded by Forbes Under 30 alum Michael Shoretz in 2012, is shaking things up in the freezer with new Greek Frozen Yogurt Pints. Enlightened was one of the first light ice creams on the market. These new pints are an upgraded version with added texture, taste and nutritional value.

Enlightened’s new pints are made with premium Greek yogurt to deliver the perfect balance of sweetness and creaminess, while offering all the benefits of Greek yogurt, such as prebiotics and probiotics. With 150 calories or less, 8 to 10 grams of protein, and minimal added sugar per serving, these pints are both a delicious and nutritious treat.

“After seeing our customers’ response to our Greek yogurt bars earlier this year, we knew we had to try a pint version,” says Shoretz. “We strive to make the best-tasting low-sugar treats by constantly adapting and improving.”

The pints are launching in six varieties. They are Brownies & Cookie Dough, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Coffee Toffee, Kookie Dough, Mint Chip and Salted Caramel Cookie. Kookie Dough is uniquely colored blue by using the natural coloring spirulina. 

Gaining traction in the marketplace is Two Spoons, a brand started by two LA foodies who yearned to have premium ice cream on a low-carb, ketogenic diet. They spent two years testing more than 1,000 batches of ice cream until “we perfected our recipe.” Made with California dairy, combined with natural ingredients and homemade mix-ins, the slow-churned ice cream has only 6 grams or less of net carbs per pint. 

Family-owned brands Hudsonville Ice Cream and Little Debbie continue their collaboration with four new additions to their year-round line of snack cake ice cream flavors. They are Birthday Cake (sweet white cake-flavored ice cream with yellow cake pieces and colorful icing sprinkles), Fudge Rounds (chocolate ice cream with chocolate cake-flavored ice cream marbled together with soft chocolatey cake crumbs), Star Crunch (caramel-flavored ice cream with chocolate-coated crispies and a thick fudge swirl) and Unicorn Cakes (strawberry-flavored ice cream with yellow pound cake pieces and purple sanding sugar, finished with a blue icing swirl). The product is also expanding distribution to retailers nationwide. 

The four new flavors join the original Hudsonville Little Debbie ice cream line that launched in February 2022 exclusively at Walmart. Original flavors include Cosmic Brownie, Honey Buns, Nutty Bars, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Strawberry Shortcake Rolls, Swiss Rolls and Zebra Cakes.

Heritage Kulfi recently added two new flavors to its premium kulfi collection: Almond Blossom and Malai Sweet Cream. Kulfi’s origins are in the Indian subcontinent dating back to the 16th century, yet it remains challenging to find it in American supermarkets…until now. The line made its debut a few years ago with limited distribution. The original line includes Alphonso Mango, Cardamom Chai, Coconut, Earl Grey, Pistachio, Rosewater, Saffron and Vanilla Bean varieties. Heritage Kulfi is slow cooked and cooled overnight, yielding a dense, creamy texture and rich dairy notes. 

“I have always seen Heritage Kulfi as an extension of my own identity and a way to stay connected with my culture through food,” says Ahmed Mansoor, founder and CEO. “These quintessential kulfi flavors not only extend that opportunity to the entire South Asian community, but offer something authentic to anyone who appreciates delicious, well-made ice cream.”

New Almond Blossom reflects almond’s key place in South Asian desserts like kheer (rice pudding) and burfi (fudge). This flavor is concocted with real California almonds and a touch of orange blossom for a bright, sunny finish. Malai Sweet Cream honors malai, the defining flavor of traditional kulfi. Malai is the cream that forms at the surface when milk is heated. High in milk fat with a distinctive cooked milk flavor, malai serves as the backbone of all Heritage Kulfi flavors. In traditional kulfi making, malai is the base upon which all other flavorings are layered, giving all Heritage Kulfi ice creams a consistently creamy and rich cooked-milk profile. For those seeking to explore kulfi for the first time, or for those already intimately familiar with the dessert eager for a nostalgic, authentic representation, the Malai Sweet Cream is the place to start.

Collaboration Drives Innovation with Midwest Dairy and The Hatchery Chicago

The Hatchery Chicago, a leading non-profit incubator dedicated to fostering successful food and beverage businesses on the West Side of Chicago, announces its collaboration with farmer-focused leaders, Midwest Dairy, for an opportunity aimed at emerging brands. The Private Kitchen Pitch Contest Presented by Midwest Dairy offers participants access to state-of-the-art, commercial kitchen space and comprehensive support services to fuel business growth. Two finalists will be awarded up to one year of private kitchen space at The Hatchery, enabling them to scale their businesses like never before.

In the previous year, five companies showcased their innovative ideas before a panel of judges, and Nikkita Randle’s Twisted Eggroll emerged as the winner, securing six months of rent-free private commercial kitchen space. Reflecting on the experience, Randle stated, “Midwest Dairy has been an absolute blessing for [us]. Having our rent eliminated for six months kept our business in a healthier financial state. We were able to send out more samples to potential stores with the funds we saved. Midwest Dairy has connected us to a different platform that will allow Twisted Eggroll to thrive moving forward.”

Natalie Shmulik, chief strategy and incubation officer of The Hatchery, says, “We take immense pride in partnering with Midwest Dairy for another exciting pitch contest to support the startup community. Midwest Dairy’s commitment to advancing innovation, as well as creating more diverse and inclusive opportunities for startups, greatly aligns with our mission. These sponsored kitchens give entrepreneurs the opportunity to push past barriers, launch unique concepts to market, and drive innovation in dairy and the industry as a whole.”

To be eligible for the Private Kitchen Pitch Contest Presented by Midwest Dairy, all applicant businesses must utilize 30% or more of cow’s dairy milk in their ingredient base. Current private kitchen tenants of The Hatchery Chicago are not eligible to participate. Prospective businesses and entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply HERE

Friday, July 21, 2023

IFT FIRST 2023: Was that stone soup I sampled?


It was great to see so many of you in Chicago this week for IFT FIRST. (Loved and appreciated all the hugs!)

Stone soup…do you remember that folktale?

This Eastern European tale starts with travelers arriving in a village with not much more than an empty cooking pot. The town folks are unwilling to share any food so the travelers start making stone soup. They fill the pot with water and a large stone, and place it over a fire. A curious villager asks what they are doing. After explaining they are making soup, the travelers suggest to the villagers that the soup could use some garnish to improve flavor. The villager, with hopes in having some of the soup, provides carrots. Another villager walks by, also curious, and decides to add some cabbage. The villagers come together, each adding another ingredient…all types of vegetables, along with meat, milk and butter. When the soup is done, the inedible stone is removed, and the new-formed community comes together over a tasty meal. 

That’s what IFT FIRST felt like this year. We were a community coming together to feed each other and the growing population. Congratulations on an expo done well!

It was not that long ago when you sampled prototypes on the IFT expo floor, you needed a spit up. This week most ingredient suppliers showed how they can work together, crossing party lines, so to say, and create bipartisan global food systems charged with feeding the world with nutritious and sustainable foods that also tasted great. 

(Kudos to today’s blog sponsor, Idaho Milk Products, for its great-tasting, shelf-stable vanilla protein shake and dairy protein-enhanced crackers. You can peruse and download an array of white papers and application sheets by linking HERE.) 

The term “global food systems” refers to the collaboration of all steps involved in food creation, from seed and livestock genetics to waste management. Sourcing sustainable ingredients is part of the formulating component of global food systems. There’s a great deal of opportunity to differentiate products in the marketplace through sustainable ingredient selection. This was very apparent at IFT FIRST. 

To read more about “Sourcing sustainable ingredients,” link HERE to an article I just wrote on this topic for Food Business News

To bring this topic close to home, here’s what Mars Inc., is doing. The company uses vanilla sourced from farmers participating in the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, an effort focused on improving the lives of vanilla farmers in Madagascar, to flavor Dove ice cream bars.

There’s a great deal of opportunity for dairy foods manufacturers to take a lead role in securing global food systems. Let’s not mess it up. We’ve done that in the past. School milk is the perfect example. 

When I was a little girl, school chocolate milk was made with the cheapest cocoa available. To make it palatable, it was sugared up. This continued for a long, long time and produced the current “not-milk generation.” The dairy industry needs to own that! We did it to ourselves. But, we are being given an opportunity to nourish children and not think about making a profit over what is “the right thing to do.” And in the long run, we will create a new “milk generation.” 

At IFT FIRST, sugar reduction was an overarching theme throughout the expo floor. Often times it was all about using higher-quality, clean-label ingredients to enable the need for less sugar in all types of applications, with “school” chocolate milk, as well as other flavored milks, ice creams, yogurts and dairy protein nutritional beverages being sampled. 

While IFT FIRST was taking place, Nestlé announced its breakthrough technology that reduces intrinsic sugars in key ingredients. This is what I am talking about!!!

Nestlé has introduced a versatile and cost-effective sugar reduction technology that can be applied across different product categories, with benefits beyond sugar reduction. It can also be used to produce low-lactose and skimmed milk-based products, while reducing total sugars.

Using an enzymatic process, it reduces intrinsic sugar in ingredients such as malt, milk and fruit juices by up to 30%, with a minimal impact on taste and texture. The sugar-reduced ingredients are then used in recipes for various products. There is no need to add sweeteners or bulking agents to replace the volume of the eliminated sugar.

When the patented sugar reduction method is applied to milk-based products, it also increases prebiotic fibers. First clinical studies have shown that these fibers can support the growth of multiple types of beneficial bacteria leading to a favorable microbiome composition in healthy adults.

This is a win-win opportunity for dairy foods innovation.

“Sugar reduction across our portfolio remains a top priority. This new technology is a true breakthrough, as we can reduce sugar without adding sweeteners while preserving a great taste, all at a minimal cost increase,” said Stefan Palzer, chief technology officer at Nestlé. “In addition, our scientists discovered that the sugar reduction generates prebiotic fibers that support the microbiome, which is an additional benefit. We are now accelerating the global roll-out across formats and categories."

The sugar reduction was first piloted in cocoa and malt-based ready-to-drink beverages in Southeast Asia and over the past year, Nestlé has already introduced it in factory lines for cocoa and malt-based powdered beverages, such as Milo across several countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Since 2021, the sugar-reduction technology has been applied to more than 200 000 tons of cocoa and malt-based beverages. The roll-out continues, and other product categories, such as dairy powders, will follow.

The development of novel technologies is part of Nestlé’s continuous efforts to improve the nutritional value of its products, while supporting responsible consumption as part of a balanced diet. The new sugar-reduction technology complements a wide range of existing solutions that Nestlé has developed over the years in collaboration with external innovation partners and suppliers. This includes natural sweeteners, sweetness-enhancing or bitterness masking flavors, as well as natural bulking agents such as fibers, cereals and tailor-made dairy and cocoa powders.

“We’re in a pretty exciting spot right now for dairy and nutrition,” said Miquela Hanselman, manager for regulatory affairs, National Milk Producers Federation, when discussing the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which will hopefully get passed by Congress this year. “National Milk is working with other dairy organizations to kind of make sure that we have all of our bases covered.”

We need all hands on deck to do this. It’s time to get creative. 

IFT FIRST kicked off on Monday with a keynote on “Creating a culture of innovation” by Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity at Disney. You can read more HERE.

He said it’s important that today’s leaders fuel the next generation of food innovators with the skills of cultivating creativity, intuition, curiosity and imagination. Why? Because these skills cannot be programmed. AI, as of yet, cannot replace these skills. 

There’s so much opportunity for the dairy industry to use ingredient technology to innovate, to keep dairy relevant. Be brave. 

“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice,” said Wardle. “It’s conformity.”

Here’s some positive messaging coming out of the Center for Science in the Public Interest on “Can you become more tolerant of lactose?” Link HERE.

And more great news from Progressive Grocer about “Winning over the ‘not-milk’ generation.” Link HERE.

Lynn Petrak writes, “Processors and industry groups are focusing on attention-getting marketing campaigns and product innovations, among other efforts, in the wake of shifts in beverage preferences. In a widely shared article earlier this year, The New York Times underlined market challenges, pointing out that younger Gen Z consumers have been dubbed the ‘not milk’ generation for buying 20% less cow’s milk than average consumers in 2022. Among other reasons, the story cited this demographic’s lactose intolerance rates, their concerns about the dairy industry’s impact on climate change, and the taste of the low-fat and skim milk that they were served in schools. Despite these and other issues, the article noted that the fact that milk is a naturally derived and nutritionally rich product can be an enticing proposition among all age groups.”

One of the biggest enticements is milk’s protein content, including its quality and completeness. Currently the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is used to assess the quality of all protein. This score is an adjustment for the quality of the protein. It is based on the types and amounts of amino acids in the food as well as the overall digestibility. The PDCAAS values range from 0.0 to 1.0, where values are truncated to a maximum score of 1.00, which cows milk, casein, whey, eggs and soy protein all possess. Most plant protein sources have much lower values.  

The % Daily Value for protein is determined using PDCAAS. A yogurt containing 10 grams of milk protein may make an “excellent source of protein” claim. A cultured vegan product with 10 grams of protein from peas and nuts most likely only qualifies for a “good source of protein” claim, and when doing so, should not flag 10 grams of protein per serving, as this is misleading. 

Let’s get more creative with milk proteins. The time is now.

Friday, July 14, 2023

IFT FIRST: New Food Formats are the Future


General Mills continues to grow its :ratio line of keto-friendly foods. The brand’s mantra is “We know making daily food choices can be a tricky equation. That’s why we’ve done the math for you, so you can spend less time reading labels and more time living. Ratio strikes a unique combination of protein, net carbs and sugar. With a focus on carefully selected ingredients, it’s a great snack to help keep you going.”

Dairy and plant proteins unite in the new Cheddar Cranberry Savory Nut and Cheese Bar. The ingredients are: Almonds, Soy Protein Isolate, Cranberries (sugar, cranberries), Dried Cheddar Cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), Canola Oil, Salt, Buttermilk, Whey, Soy Lecithin, Annatto Extract (for color). 

The “food as medicine” mantra continues to fuel innovations for people, pets and the planet. “Good nutrition is foundational for human health, and one of the top modifiable risk factors for death and disability across the world,” according to the 2021 Global Nutrition Report (

While many of you who are attending IFT FIRST (Food Improved by Research, Science and Technology) in Chicago starting this weekend will be looking to ingredient suppliers for technologies to assist with improving bottom lines and securing your supply chain, do not forget to prioritize consumers’ unmet nutritional needs, which are slowly reshaping the food and beverage industry. 

In case you missed the big news, all those dairy innovations in your queue should be using whole milk. 

A new study published in the European Heart Journal (, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology, found that whole-fat dairy foods can help to prevent heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. This finding comes from experts who created a dietary ranking named the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) Healthy Diet Score. The PURE diet finds six food groups--fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and whole-fat dairy--can lower the risk of heart disease. The researchers developed the PURE healthy diet based on an analysis of 245,000 people in 80 countries around the world.

“Low-fat foods have taken center stage with the public, food industry and policymakers, with nutrition labels focused on reducing fat and saturated fat,” said study author Dr. Andrew Mente of the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. “Our findings suggest that the priority should be increasing protective foods such as nuts (often avoided as too energy dense), fish and dairy, rather than restricting dairy (especially whole fat) to very low amounts. Our results show that up to two servings a day of dairy, mainly whole fat, can be included in a healthy diet. This is in keeping with modern nutrition science showing that dairy, particularly whole fat, may protect against high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.”

The PURE diet recommends two-to-three daily servings of fruit; two-to-three daily servings of vegetables; three-to-four weekly servings of legumes; seven weekly servings of nuts; two-to-three weekly servings of fish; and 14 weekly servings of dairy products (mainly whole fat). That’s right, 14!

When you explore ingredient technologies at IFT FIRST, ask yourself, how can I use this to make new full-fat, nutrient-dense dairy foods? 

The Three Themes of IFT FIRST
Last month I identified the three themes that will dominate IFT FIRST 2023. They are focusing on the health of the planet, ingredients for improving energy and focus, and prioritizing gut health. To read the complete blog, link HERE

I encourage innovators to approach these three themes with an open eye. Think beyond the scope of what you know and identify new finished product concepts. 
From all the previews I’ve received from IFT FIRST exhibitors, I can confirm there’s a strong toolbox of ingredients at your disposal. There’s nothing “real” new, more like fine-tuned recent innovations, namely in the fiber, plant protein and non-sugar natural sweetener sectors. Think allulose, monk fruit and stevia. 

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. 

Focus on the suppliers who may assist with helping your brand make a sustainability claim. 

As I wrote in an article on sourcing sustainable ingredients for Food Business News (date of publication: July 18, 2023), “The word sustainable has become the go-to descriptor for food and beverage marketers. While not regulated—therefore one cannot accuse misuse of the term—it is being overused and just a matter of time before consumers start asking for data to support sustainability statements. Brands must do their due diligence and be ready to answer questions.” 

“Food scientists need new sustainable tools in their toolbox to create delicious new products that make a positive impact on the environment,” said Jaime Reeves, executive vice president of product development and commercialization, Mattson Co., Foster City, Calif. “It’s all about better-for-the-planet ingredients. This includes upcycling, regenerative agriculture, lower carbon emissions, lower water usage and more.”

Bringing that closer to home, Mars Inc., is now using vanilla sourced from farmers participating in the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, an effort focused on improving the lives of vanilla farmers in Madagascar, to flavor Dove ice cream bars. This is being communicated to consumers.  

This week, Nestlé announced that it is investing to help bring regenerative agriculture practices to wheat farms within its DIGIORNO supply chain, with the goal of improving soil, using less water, energy and fertilizer, and helping reduce the impacts of climate change. The initiative will bring regenerative agriculture practices to over 100,000 acres of farmland, nearly double the amount of acres needed to grow the amount of wheat used in DIGIORNO pizza. (Lots of cheese goes on those pizzas!) The work will help the company accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture in its supply chain.

“At Nestlé our aim is to help leave the world better than we found it, and as the world’s largest food and beverage company, we have a tremendous opportunity to help create a regenerative, healthy food system while also working with the local farming communities that employ it,” said Steve Presley, CEO, Nestlé Zone North America. “To do this we need to find solutions that create shared value throughout the ecosystem, value for us, value for farmers, value for our consumers, and value for the planet. This investment in wheat producers is just one example of how we are bringing this commitment to life across our supply chain.”

Nestlé was the first company to join the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative. In 2021, a Carnation supplier in Modesto, Calif., became the first farm to join a pilot program implementing sustainable technologies and farming practices that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prove it can be done in an economical way.

Nestlé Health Science is collaborating with Royal Dairy farm in Royal City, Wash., to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the U.S Dairy Net Zero Initiative. Royal Dairy joins Nestlé Health Science’s family of dairy suppliers for Carnation Breakfast Essentials nutritional powder drink mix.

This Sunday, July 16, is National Ice Cream Day. 
Treat Yourself!
So, once again, I am bringing this all a bit closer to home, my amazing town, Sweet Home, Chicago. If you are in town this weekend, head over to Navy Pier for a celebration of ice cream. The “Sweeten Your Summer with Blue Bunny and Halo Top” show will take place at 9:45 pm on July 15 at the 3,300-foot-long pier located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. 

Wells Enterprises, which was acquired by the Ferrero Group in July 2022, is sponsoring the event. Navy Pier’s first-ever drone light show will precede Chicago’s regularly scheduled Saturday fireworks display at 10 pm.
The production will consist of 10 minutes of ice cream-themed animations in recognition of July as National Ice Cream Month and July 16 as National Ice Cream Day. Three hundred drones will illuminate the sky, spinning at over 20,000 revolutions per minute. The show will end with the drones forming a scannable QR code large enough to cover an entire city block. That will give guests access to a special offer at Albertsons Cos.’ Jewel-Osco just in time for National Ice Cream Day.

In addition, Blue Bunny and Halo Top will host a free ice cream social from 1 to 3 pm on July 15 in the Polk Bros Park at the entrance to Navy Pier. Guests can enjoy a treat-sized Bomb Pop, Blue Ribbon Classics, Halo Top or Blue Bunny ice cream and then explore Navy Pier ahead of the main event at night.

Separately, Halo Top has launched a new item for the most fashionable of ice cream lovers: the Halo Top Pint Pack. This accessory is designed to carry a single pint of ice cream and keep it cold anywhere you go from the pool to the hiking trail to the beach.

Hope to see you at Navy Pier and at IFT FIRST!