Friday, November 3, 2023

The Ingredient List is Gaining Attention.


The award-winning Milk Bar bakery and got milk? have teamed up to release a limited-edition Holiday Milk Collection. The three offerings are Apple Cider Donut Milk, Pumpkin Cinnamon Milk and Sugar Cookie Milk. All are little luxuries crafted with real dairy milk.

For those in New York and Los Angeles, the Holiday Milk Collection will be available in the flagship locations, while those who are home for the holidays can also take part in the magic of this milky goodness by ordering the Holiday Milk Collection do-it-yourself gift set online at Available for nationwide shipping, the Holiday Milk Collection gift set includes all the materials needed to create the trio of festive milk flavors from the cozy comfort of home, along with six classic Milk Bar cookies designed to pair perfectly with each signature milk.

“When we opened the doors to our bakery 15 years ago, one of the biggest sellers was our pints of flavored milk and folks have been begging us to bring them back ever since,” said Milk Bar Founder Christina Tosi.

It’s that time of year when a number of key players in food and beverage issue trends for the upcoming year. The Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council calls them “the top-10 anticipated food trends.” They are predictions. Because “the dairy industry is in really good shape,” as stated on this 3.5 minutes VIDEO from the International Dairy Foods Association on the next generation of leaders in the dairy industry, dairy foods and dairy ingredients tend to not be a “prediction.” Dairy is a known. 

“Our annual food trends predictions list is a way for us to pull back the curtain for customers and share insight into what our buyers and culinary experts are keeping on their radar for the upcoming year,” said Cathy Strange, ambassador of food culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the Trends Council. “From specific product ingredients and flavor trends, to growing movements in the food industry, we can’t wait to see these trends gain momentum in the year ahead.”

These trends predictions provide insight to best practices to leverage and communicate dairy’s amazing taste, sustainability story and nutrition profile. There’s even innovation inspiration. Think “Little Luxuries” like the limited-edition Holiday Milk Collection.   

Whole Foods Market predicts that “plant” will be put back into “plant-based” concepts. This includes a shrinking of ingredient statements throughout the plant-based category. 

“We’re seeing new and emerging protein-forward products with mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh and legumes in place of complex meat alternatives. Even plant-based milk alternatives are participating, with some brands simplifying labels to just two ingredients, perfect for the vegetarian purist.”

Note the words: vegetarian purist. Not vegan. Dairy foods fit into vegetarian lifestyles. Communicate that to shoppers. 

source: HealthFocus International 

This “simplifying of labels” supports new research findings from HealthFocus International that show “many consumers may now realize that the nutrition panel, which reports on just a handful of nutrients, could look very similar for two products that vary dramatically in ingredient purity,” said Julie Johnson, president of HealthFocus International.

“While the nutrition panel has long ranked number-one in information consumers looked for on labels, ingredients have jumped ahead in importance,” she said. “Globally, consumers in 17 of 23 countries ranked ingredients above nutrition as highly important packaging information.”

Other predictions on the Whole Foods list include upcycling of ingredients, regenerative agriculture, formulating with superfoods, complex heat from varietal peppers, clean energy (caffeine) and little luxuries. These are all places where dairy may play. 

Indeed, TikTok creators have brought “Little Treat Culture” into our daily lives. Brands are getting in on the trend by considering both cost and format. Single-serve packages add joy without breaking a budget. The time is now for refrigerated dairy desserts and other single-serve portions of everything from cheese to premium flavored milk.  

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) also recently released its predictions from its Trendspotter Panel. One of those predictions is the growing popularity of Asian-influenced flavors. I wrote about this a few months ago. Read about the Asian flavors trend in dairy HERE.

The SFA specifically identified black sesame and ube as trending flavors. One of the delivery vehicles of choice: milk tea. 

At the end of the day, one of the biggest take aways from all the prediction lists I have reviewed thus far is that “value” will be the name of the game in 2024. Consumers will continue to watch their finances and are researching how to best spend their food dollar. Brands need to engage shoppers to explain the value products bring to the table. 

“This may be versatile uses, low-stress flavor building or longer shelf life, yes, longer shelf life,” said Melanie Bartelme, global food analyst, Mintel, and one of SFA’s trendspotters. “These attributes can help show consumers that these products are ‘worth’ the cost.”

IDFA’s NextGen VIDEO discusses the “new horizon of opportunities” for the dairy processing industry. “NextGen leaders are setting the dairy processing industry up for success in the future.”

We need to explore and engage with food and beverage industry predictions in order to not just stay relevant with younger shoppers, but to be their go-to for attributes they find important.  

“Providing this information will please shoppers; not providing it may have the opposite impact,” according to Steve Markenson, vice president-research and insights, FMI-The Food Industry Association. “They want the details.”

Dairy makes for a wonderful story. It’s a clean, simple ingredient that is a nutritious powerhouse. Let’s tell them the details. 

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