Friday, May 24, 2024

Dairy Industry Take-Aways from the Restaurant Show


It was wonderful to see so many of you at the National Restaurant Association Show this past week in my hometown Chicago. The Windy City welcomed more than 58,000 foodservice professionals from around the world, representing 124 countries. The show saw a 6% increase in total attendance—with 22% international growth—compared to last year, highlighting its importance in the industry. With a 9% increase in exhibit space compared to 2023, the show floor provided a comprehensive platform for industry professionals to connect and collaborate.

Dairy shined throughout the expo, with California and Wisconsin both having pavilions. Plant-based dairy—the few brands who had the courage to showcase their innovations—shined, too. It’s safe to say that to play in this space, mediocracy is no longer an option.  

Last week I mentioned how I was looking forward to trying Armored Fresh’s Oat Milk Cheddar Dip. I did. It was delicious. You can read more about it HERE.

I also tasted pizza made with new Daiya Dairy-Free Cheese Shreds. Once again, it was delicious. (On its own, I would not snack on the shreds like I do real dairy cheese shreds. But on the pizza, it’s a winner.)

Daiya developed shreds specifically for foodservice operators, leveraging the success of its new proprietary ingredient, Daiya Oat Cream blend. Products made with this ingredient were unveiled across retail in December. The innovative foodservice shreds promise a dairy-like melt that browns and strings just like dairy cheese. It does. 

The demand for dairy-free options in the foodservice industry has been steadily increasing, driven by shifting consumer preferences towards plant-based alternatives when eating out. With an ever-growing number of individuals embracing dairy-free diets due to health, preference and environmental reasons, offering high-quality dairy-free options has become imperative for foodservice operators to cater to diverse customer needs and preferences. 

In foodservice, chefs, culinary specialists and operators can perform their magic and serve these products in unique ways so that the consumer has a better experience with them than if they “played” with them at home. After all, (almost) everything tastes better when someone else makes it. 

“We’ve seen plant-based menu penetration grow by 262% in the last four years, and ultimately what diners expect when they order a dairy-free alternative is that cheesy, ‘melts-like-dairy' experience,” said Melanie Domer, chief commercial officer at Daiya. “The demand for such a product is there, and we’re delivering operators a solution that we believe bridges the gap between consumer expectations and dairy-free offerings.”

If you want to explore all types of “dirty” tricks that menu developers are pursuing to get inspired, read an article I wrote for Food Business News titled “Unexpected ingredients’ among trends fueling menu innovation” HERE.

That brings me to a new report from The Brainy Insights on the global dairy blends market. Dairy blends are defined as foods and beverages that combine dairy ingredients with other components, such as vegetable oils, emulsifiers or flavors, to create versatile and functional food ingredients. 

These blends offer a range of benefits, including enhanced nutritional profiles, improved texture, extended shelflife and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional dairy products. Dairy blends find applications across various food industries, including bakery, confectionery, beverages and processed foods. They are also used in dairy products, everything from cheese to ice cream to yogurt, providing manufacturers with flexibility in the formulation and allowing them to tailor products to meet specific consumer preferences and dietary requirements. With the increasing demand for healthier and more diverse food options, dairy blends continue to play a vital role in the food industry, catering to the evolving needs of consumers worldwide.

The report said that the dairy blends market generated $4.21 billion in revenue in 2023 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% from 2024 to 2033. The market is expected to reach $8.95 billion by 2033. 

Now while this new product from REBBL is vegan, it serves as an example of dairy blend innovation. The product is called a Smoothie Starter, a category-defining multi-serve concept created for convenience and functional nourishment. 

Smoothie Starter is designed to transform morning rituals, offering consumers an organic and convenient base to create nutrient-dense smoothies in seconds without the mess. With just the simple additions of ice, fruit or greens, users can quickly and seamlessly blend up a protein-packed and gut health-supporting smoothie to fuel their day.
“The launch of Smoothie Starter marks a significant milestone in our product portfolio; we’re proud to introduce this one-of-a-kind offering for smoothies that is unmatched in the current market,” said Andy Fathollahi, CEO of SYSTM Foods. “We’ve eliminated the guesswork from smoothie prep and are offering consumers a quality, convenient foundation to enhance their morning ritual at an unrivaled value.”
Offered in coconut milk and oat milk liquid base varieties, Smoothie Starter delivers 20 grams of plant-rich protein to kickstart the day and features amplified benefits through postbiotics to support gut health. The product is also fortified with 20% of the Daily Value of zinc for immunity support. 
Each 32-ounce bottle is intended to make four smoothies. The product is debuting at Target and Sprouts nationwide for $9.99.

Fathollahi added, “By simplifying and upgrading the smoothie-making process with unparalleled nutritional benefits, REBBL empowers consumers to take control of their mornings and fuel their bodies with the goodness they deserve.”

The dairy industry needs to continue to help fuel bodies with the goodness they deserve. 
The Food as Medicine conference followed the restaurant show. Kerry Hackworth, director-nutrition affairs for the National Dairy Council, said this.

“According to a Cornell researcher, we make over 200 food related decisions per day and small changes add up over time. This means that achieving health shouldn’t just focus on eating more plants and produce. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides recommendations for healthy eating patterns and is put together every five years by experts in their field who look at the body of evidence to support the components of a healthy diet. Plants, in combination with animal-sourced foods, can fill nutrient gaps and help to prevent disease.” 

Happy Summer!

No comments:

Post a Comment