Friday, June 14, 2024

Indulgence and Flavor Adventure Dominated IDDBA 2024


It was great to visit with so many of you on Sunday during my half-day, whirl-wind walk of the expo floor. Indulgence and flavor adventure dominated recent innovations. There were very few products with better-for-you or plant-based positionings. It was all about enjoyment and exploration, often times in single-serve sized packages.  

Jonna Parker, principal and team lead for fresh foods at Circana spoke in a session on snacking. She pointed out that a recent survey showed half of all consumers “often eat snacks instead of a meal because I am on the go” while 46% of consumers snack more than three times a day.

“Small indulgences are where to be for the next few years,” added Steve Zurek, director- sales development for North American sales operations at NielsenIQ. He explained that the trend toward personal-sized, affordable treats is a movement with staying power.

Let’s check out some of the innovations from this year’s expo. 

Heartisan Foods is growing its Red Apple Cheese brand with numerous shapes, formats and flavors. Many of these will be featured in coming weeks as a Daily Dose of Dairy. For now, here’s a peek into the brand’s adventurous side. Its flavored gouda chunk line now includes a Spicy Smoked offering, which joins Honey Sriracha, Mango Habanero, Smokey Bourbon and Scorpion. The new Cheese Curd line is making its debut with a Bloody Mary variety. The iconic snacking curds come in 8-ounce bags. 

BelGioioso has a new small-batch flavored artisan cheese under its La Bottega line.  Artigiano Blood Orange is a slightly sweet and savory cheese hand crafted by soaking the cheese in a citrus marinade. This BelGioioso original comes in a 5-ounce wedge.

Until now, cows milk yogurt manufacturers thought they were only up against plant-based concepts. Enter eggs. That’s right. Oolie is described as “Egg Based Provisions.” Yogurt is also on the label; however, the product is dairy free. The brand markets itself as “farm-fresh eggs reinvented as classic creamy favorites” and comes in Blueberry, Keyline, Lemon, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors. The brand also has a line of dairy-free, egg-based dips in Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Tomato, Red Beet, Spicy Pepper and Yellow Curry flavors. 

Global flavors in traditional dairy products is booming. Esti Foods, a company that has built its brand by focusing on Mediterranean products, including hummus, tzatziki, Greek yogurt, yogurt-based dips and more, is growing its “Circle of Global Flavors” offerings with two dairy-based dips. Chimichurri is a “flavor of Argentina,” while Elotes Street Corn is a “flavor of Mexico.” 

Land O’Lakes is growing its Goya line of ready-to-eat refrigerated dairy desserts with Mexican Chocolate Pudding. This is a dark, rich chocolate with plenty of cinnamon and complements the swicy trend of sweet and spicy. The single-serve desserts come in 4-ounce cups and are sold in packs of four. 

Reina Foods is rolling out Bend&Blend. The dual-compartment refrigerated dairy dessert has pudding on one side and a sweet dipper on the other. The two initial offerings are: Chocolate Pudding with Mini Teddy Bear Crackers and Vanilla Pudding with Mini Maria’s Cookies. The package size is 9.5 ounces. 

Artisan butters, often with higher-percentages of butterfat as compared to mainstream, everyday butters, continue to boom. In the weeks ahead, be on the lookout for some co-branded butters from Epicurean being showcased as a Daily Dose of Dairy. 

Here we have Moinear Farmhouse Butter, which is made with California milk in California using a traditional Irish recipe based on pure whey cream. The company explains that “during cheesemaking, as the curds and whey are gently separated, the aromatic cheese flavors begin to develop as the cheese cultures ferment. Rarely is the whey cream separated from the whey to begin the skilled small-batch churning process of hand-making world class whey butter, traditionally known as “farmhouse butter” or “old-fashioned butter.” It is now the king of artisanal butters with its “mild, nutty, cheesy and richer, fuller flavor” profile. Cheese-making cultures produce the whey butter flavor secrets. Whey butter is a rare delicacy and our mission is to reintroduce this exciting long-lost art of whey butter making to the world.” The butter comes in 8-ounce foil-wrapped blocks, salted or unsalted. 

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery is exploring worldly flavors with its new Antonella Artisan Cheese Collection of semi-soft cheeses. The logs of cheese are hand-rolled in dried, flavorful ingredients, including herbs, vegetables and even cured meat. Varieties are Garden Vegetable & Sweet Basil, Pepperoni & Marinara and Roasted Garlic, Tomato & Basil.  

Pine River adds four varieties to its Traditional and Premium Cold Pack Cheese Spread lines. The newest offerings are: Maple Bacon, Spicy Pimento and Vintage Reserve. Spicy Pimento is a fiery rendition of the company’s beloved Pimento spread with now more Grade A cheddar shreds added. Infused with zesty pickled jalapenos, this kicked-up version delivers a delightful kick of heat, elevating the classic flavor profile to new heights of boldness and intensity. Maple Bacon is a fusion of Grade A cheddar aged for a minimum of nine months with maple onion jam and savory bacon. Vintage Reserve is a revamped iteration of the company’s popular 60-Month Anniversary spread. Crafted with white cheddar aged for a minimum of five years and studded with five-year cheddar chunks throughout, this rich and creamy cheddar spread promises a truly indulgent taste experience that will leave you craving for more. The brand is also undergoing a makeover with new color schemes. As part of this refresh, Pine River renamed its Mango Habanero spread to Kickin’ Mango. Stay tuned for more new flavors, including Raspberry Chipotle and Italian Truffle. 

Yancey’s Fancy, always an innovator with edgy flavors, provided IDDBA attendees with a sneak peek at its Ube Cheese concept, which is still under development. The purple-veined cheese has an extra layer of nutty flavor from the ube fruit. New flavors available now include Green Goddess Gouda, Portobella & Truffle Cheddar, Strawberry & Jalapeno Cheddar, and Lemon Bliss Cheddar. The pasteurized process cheese comes in 7.6-ounce chunks. 

Citrus flavors are trending, which is somewhat of an unusual combination in dairy because sour does not always go well with creamy. In fact, for some, there’s that vision of the acidic fruit curdling the milk. But they do go together, and surprisingly, deliciously well. Superior Foods Company, a co-packer of innovative dairy dips and spreads has a new Lemon Blueberry Bliss dairy dip. On the savory side, there’s a new Pepperoni Pizza flavored dip. 

The Gordo’s brand is expanding into  the non-cheese Premium Dip category. The three new dips use a sour cream and cream cheese base and come in 12-ounce tubs. Flavors are: Creamy Jalapeno, Smokey Tomato (and chiles) and Zesty Ranch. The brand also has dual-compartment refrigerated snack packs. The 4-ounce containers come in Cheese Dip & Pretzels and Queso & Chips varieties. 

On the sort of sweet side of snacking comes Ice Cream Not Fried Chicken from Life Raft Treats. This handcrafted Ice Cream Drumstick has a chocolate pretzel “bone” in the center, which is enveloped by waffle-flavored ice cream and then enrobed in caramelized white chocolate and corn flakes. Each drumstick is 2.5 ounces and individually wrapped. 
They are sold in display packs of 24 drumsticks. This creation was invented by a six-times James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist—Cynthia Wong—for her outstanding craft as a pastry chef. 

Old World Productions is growing its Carnegie Deli Cheesecake Bites with a Birthday Cake variety. The frozen dairy-based poppable dessert comes in 3- and 6-ounce shareable bags. 

Mark your calendars for IDDBA 2025, taking place June 1-3 in New Orleans. 

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