Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Future of Dairy Must Include Advanced Technologies


Remember the dairy processing industry before margarine? Home freezers? Paperboard cartons? Aseptic processing? The list goes on and always will.

If you missed last’s week blog titled “Future Food Tech: Three Takeaways for Dairy Processors to Innovate Smartly,” link HERE. It is based on content collected at the Future Food Tech conference in San Francisco. 

For additional insights from the conference, link HERE to an article in Food Business News on how AI’s role is rapidly expanding in food and beverage innovation.   

The reality is that this is no longer your daddy’s or your granddaddy’s farm. The industry has come a long way in 100 years. As technology gets more sophisticated, so must dairy processing in order to stay competitive and relevant. 

For the Painter family farm, it’s become a sisters’ business. The Painter sisters—Hayley and Stephanie—grew up on a 4th-generation Pennsylvania family farm that practices regenerative organic agriculture. Together the two have quickly grown their lactose-free whole milk organic skyr yogurt over the past two years. And, upon beating out 14 other brands at the 2024 Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam for the grand prize, will have more dollars to support marketing and expand distribution, all while investing in regenerative agriculture practices to save the soil and the planet.

The cultured dairy product provides 21 grams of protein per serving. It is made with 6% milk fat, and  includes probiotics like BB12. The yogurt is sweetened with organic fruit and cane sugar, and is free of additives, fillers and preservatives. 

The initial rollout two years ago was in five varieties—Blueberry Lemon, Mixed Berry, Plain, Strawberry and Vanilla Bean—in 5.3-ounce cups. Most recently Savannah Peach was added to the lineup. There’s also new 24-ounce containers of Plain and Vanilla. 

The second innovation to highlight comes from Kerry Dairy Consumer Foods, a division of Kerry Group’s dairy business Kerry Dairy Ireland. The company just launched oat- and dairy-blended products under the brand name Smug. Products includes milk, cheese and butter, which are described as combining “the goodness of dairy and plants.”

“This unique combination of oat and dairy offers consumers the ‘best of both worlds’ without compromising on the rich, creamy taste of dairy,” the company said.

Through the addition of plant-based ingredients, saturated fat content is lowered. The dairy provides high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. 

“With this first-to-market category launch, we are not only creating a new way for dairy lovers to do dairy with a bold and exciting new brand but also to creating a dairy category that is fit for the future,” says Victoria Southern, strategy, marketing and innovation director at Kerry Dairy Consumer Foods. “The Smug Dairy portfolio has 40% less saturated fats and saves up to 54% less carbon dioxide emissions per kilogram than traditional dairy.”

This is not the first time such a blend was done in milk. You may recall that Dairy Farmers of America introduced Live Real Farms Dairy Plus Milk Blends in the summer of 2019. This was the first fresh milk blended beverage in the marketplace and combined pure dairy with almonds or oats. Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented the necessary marketing to educate consumers about the blend and it’s been tabled for the time. 

The third example of advanced technology being put to work in the dairy department comes from Nature’s Fynd. The company is using a nutritional fungi protein to manufacture the world’s first dairy-free, fungi-based yogurt. The product made its debut late 2023 in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide. This is the third product line in the brand’s retail portfolio, which also includes Dairy-Free Cream Cheese and Meatless Fy Breakfast Patties. 

The single-serve 5.3 ounce containers of Fy Yogurt come in Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors. It has a thick, creamy consistency without grittiness. It is nutritionally dense with 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and is made with live and active cultures. The peach and strawberry yogurts feature only 8 grams of added sugar while the vanilla yogurt has 9 grams. 

Nature’s Fynd grows Fy protein from fungi with origins in Yellowstone National Park via the company’s breakthrough fermentation process. This contributed to the company recently being named number-one in Forward Fooding’s FoodTech 500 List. Congrats. 

Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest Celebrates 100 Years of Excellence
The Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest has played a pivotal role in shaping the future of the dairy industry. It provides a platform for students and professionals to showcase their expertise in the evaluation and analysis of dairy products.

Established in 1916, this dairy competition has been a cornerstone of dairy products training, education and sensory evaluation for more than 100 years. No contests were held in 1918 (WWI), from 1942 to 1946 (WWII), and 2020 to 2021 (we know why!).

The first contest was held in connection with the National Dairy Show sponsored by the National Dairy Association. Butter was the only product judged because of its commercial importance at that time. Cheddar cheese and milk were added in 1917, followed by ice cream in 1926. Then cottage cheese was added in 1962. Yogurt did not enter until 1977. Since, these categories have been broken down into subcategories, and as innovation continues, more will likely be added in years to come.

The event is currently sponsored by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. To mark the 100th anniversary, the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest will be hosting a special centennial celebration event on April 17, 2024, at the CheeseExpo in Milwaukee. 
For more information, link HERE.

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