Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whey Can Make a Difference

Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council

In the egg and egg replacement industries there’s a common saying, which is “no single ingredient can replace the functional and nutritional properties of eggs.” The same is true of whey protein ingredients, albeit the attributes are different than those of eggs. No single ingredient can replace the functional and nutritional properties of whey proteins.

The dairy industry needs to do a better job of formulating with whey proteins and touting their superiority. This is allowed and encouraged. 

If your company produces, distributes, uses or plans to use whey proteins, the place to be this September 17 to 20 is Chicago, where the International Whey Conference will take place. Held every four years, this is the meeting of the minds to discuss the past, present and focus on the future of commodity and specialty whey protein ingredients.

Topics include the state of the whey protein industry, overcoming processing issues when formulating foods and beverages with whey proteins, and developing affordable dairy foods enriched with powerful whey proteins. Regulatory, marketing and current research will be focal points over the three days of packed sessions. You can view the entire program HERE.

The fact is whey proteins are powerhouses. They can make a difference in the nutritional profile and ingredient list of many dairy foods, including cheese spreads, milk beverages, frozen desserts, yogurts and cultured dairy foods. They can boost protein levels and clean up ingredient legends.

At one point in time, whey was considered a byproduct of cheese. Today, cheese is often made for the sole purpose of obtaining whey for the growing global market. On Monday, September 18, Polly Olson, vice president-new business, sales and marketing, Agropur, will discuss emerging markets and innovation opportunities for whey proteins.

The last whey protein conference I attended was two years ago in Jerome, Idaho. Sponsored by Davisco, now Agropur Ingredients, the Alpha Summit provided a comprehensive overview of the specialty whey proteins market. Link HERE to an article I wrote on the summit for Food Business News.

At the summit, Paul Moughan, distinguished professor and director of the Riddet Institute in New Zealand, explained the importance of dietary protein quality in nutrition and health. He will speak again on this topic on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the International Whey Conference.

“Protein is vital to support the health and well-being of human populations. However, not all proteins are alike, as they vary according to their origin, animal vs. plant, as well as their individual amino acid composition and their level of amino acid bioavailability,” he said. “High-quality proteins are those that are readily digestible in a form that can be utilized and contain the dietary essential amino acids in quantities that correspond to human requirements.”

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations recommended that a new, advanced method for assessing the quality of dietary proteins--Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)--replace the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) as the preferred method of measuring protein quality.

“The recommendation of the DIAAS method is a dramatic change that will provide an accurate measure of the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body and an individual protein source’s contribution to a human’s amino acid and nitrogen requirements,” said Dr. Moughan. “This will be an important piece of information for decision makers assessing foods that should be part of a sustainable diet for our growing global population.”

He explained that with the PDCAAS method, values are truncated to a maximum score of 1.00, even if scores derived are higher. Using the DIAAS method, researchers are now able to differentiate protein sources by their ability to supply amino acids for use by the body. The DIAAS method is able to demonstrate the higher bioavailability of dairy proteins when compared to plant-based protein sources.

Dr. Moughan did say that even with the DIAAS score, you don’t get the whole story about the quality of the protein. “The single score is based on the limiting amino acid in the protein,” he said. For example, the leucine component of alpha-lactalbumin—a type of whey protein--has a DIAAS score of 2.00 and the tryptophan component is 5.50. By reporting only the single score of 1.14, which is based on the limiting amino acid valine, the quality of the alpha-lactalbumin is not accurately communicated.

“High-quality data on the bioavailable amounts of individual amino acids in proteins and foods will maximize the information to consumers and health professionals,” said Dr. Moughan. “This will become a lot more important as the food industry increases efforts to support health and different physiological needs.”

According to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, data indicate all humans need to make about the same amount of new protein every day for basic lean muscle repair and remodeling. But as we age, the efficiency of building new protein decreases. To reap the benefits of healthy muscles, one must consider the quality of the protein and the quantity of the protein at every meal.

“Below the age of 30, hormones drive growth. Even with a low-protein diet, children can still grow and produce new muscle,” he said. “But as you age, hormones no longer drive muscle growth and the essential muscle replacement is driven by the quality of the diet. Aging reduces the efficiency of protein use, but does not impair the capacity to respond.”
For optimum muscle health and function, research suggests that 30 grams of high-quality protein—like the protein you get from whey--should be consumed at every meal, and preferably proteins high in the essential amino acid leucine.

Whey proteins make a positive difference in dairy foods formulations. Learn more at the International Whey Conference. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

(Cold) Brew Up Your Dairy Beverage Portfolio

Photo source: Starbucks

Ready-to-drink, dairy-based, cold-brew coffee, tea and cocoa beverages have the power to grow sales in the refrigerated dairy case as consumers increasingly embrace minimal processing and the fresh perimeter of the supermarket. The fact is, cold brew has changed the coffeehouse landscape. This trend is powerful enough to make an impact on retail fluid milk sales if dairy processors are willing to invest in adding a line extension or two.

While I very much appreciate unique packaging, enticing brands and millennial-centric marketing, cold-brew offerings—for fluid milk processors--might be best as a line extension in their flavored milk line up, right there with the chocolate, strawberry and maybe other flavors, in pint and half-gallon paperboard cartons or plastic jugs.

Crazy, right? Or maybe not. Think about it. Retail flavored milk sales are up. Milk users are shopping the flavored milk dairy case. Make the latest flavor trend readily available to them, in a customary format.

Any coffee, tea or cocoa expert knows this: if it’s quality product, it does not need sweetener (with cocoa, just a little). Hence, as consumers make an effort to reduce added sugar intake, they will seek out premium products with no or less added sugar. The cold-brewing process, which works on coffee and cocoa beans and teas leaves, makes this possible.

Cold brew, also known as cold press, is beans or leaves brewed without heat. Cold brewing requires steeping in ambient- to cold-temperature water for a long period of time. The type of beans and leaves, the ratio of beans and leaves to water, the temperature of the water and the steeping time all impact the final product.

This is getting noticed and embraced by consumers.

Market penetration for cold-brew coffee rose to 21% in 2017 among those drinking coffee daily in the U.S., up from 15% in 2015, according the New York-based National Coffee Association. Data is not available for cold-brew tea or cocoa yet, but beverage analysts are projecting the two will be “hot” spots in 2018.

The key takeaways are:

1. Don’t let packaging prevent you from getting into cold-brew, milk-based coffee, tea and cocoa beverages. Offer them alongside chocolate milk.

2. Keep added sugars low, and avoid if possible. Communicate this on the package. Quality cold brew tastes great without sweetener.

3. Offer a seasonal/limited-edition flavor to entice shoppers to try. It’s not too late to make your debut with a cinnamon spice winter offering. It works in coffee, tea and cocoa.

4. Embrace a fruity, milk infusion. Cold-brew coffee, dairy and coconut is a great combo. Cold-brew tea, dairy and berries works, too. Cold-brew cocoa, dairy and almost any layer of flavor makes for an amazing beverage. Think limited-edition offering to create excitement in the category and encourage purchase.

5. With value-added beverages, single-serve, eye-catching packaging is paramount. Co-packers can assist. (Link HERE for co-packing assistance.) There is a real opportunity to take a functional foods positioning with cold-brew, dairy-based beverages. I’ve recently become aware of some functional cold-brew coffee-milk beverages that will soon enter the marketplace. In the near future, they will be featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy. There’s a probiotic drink, an energy beverage and a meal replacement.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Gen Z Knows Protein

Make sure you keep dairy proteins relevant to Gen Z, powerful young consumers who are now coming of age.

Protein…it’s the buzz word in most of the back-to-school product and promotional news releases I have been receiving the past few weeks. This protein comes from many sources and in many shapes and forms and is shaking up the food culture in America.

Gen Z, which is comprised of boys and girls born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, is also increasingly a leading topic in my newsfeed. They were raised during a recession by parents who often stressed about money. They learned to appreciate eating family dinners at home, while at the same time they are an on-the-go generation that seeks out convenient, value-priced portable food options. They often opt to pack a snack rather than pay a premium while out and about.

They also know protein. Protein-rich foods have been an integral part of most of their life and this is likely to continue. They appreciate the nutrition, the energy and the satiation that protein provides. It’s important to keep dairy proteins relevant to these powerful young consumers who are now coming of age.

Based on the many Gen Z research reports I have read, here are five food facts about Gen Z and their influence on dairy foods innovations.

1. Gen Z grew up drinking yogurt.
Dannon’s Danimals drinkable yogurts debuted right around the time the first Gen Z’s learned to hold a beverage bottle. They’ve been drinking yogurt ever since and continue to appreciate this format. The time is right to offer new concepts that speak to their changing taste preferences and nutritional needs. This includes higher protein and caffeinated (for energy) products.

2. Protein bars replaced candy or granola bars in their lunch boxes.
You say tomato, I say tomahto…Millennial parents thought giving their kids a granola bar was a healthier choice than a candy bar. More often than not, this was not true. Both are loaded with sugar and not much else. Then entered the protein bar, the favorite go-to-snack for parents of Gen Z and eventually Gen Z’ers. Gen Z knows that choosing protein is smart. It’s always been a part of their life and they are open to trying new formats. Protein-powered ice cream, cheese snacks, puddings and cultured dairy are great portable concepts for this convenience-driven demographic. 
New Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Sandwiches are a product with Gen Z appeal. The portable protein treat come in Mint (mint frozen Greek yogurt between dark chocolate cookies) and Vanilla (vanilla frozen Greek yogurt between dark chocolate cookies) varieties. A 3-ounce sandwich contains 5 grams of protein from the Greek yogurt and added milk protein concentrate.

3. Soda machines were removed from their schools and school-provided lunches got healthier.Real-life nutrition education made its way back into the classrooms of Gen Z. Teachers and coaches influenced what snacks could be shared at birthday celebrations, holiday parties and after the big game. Gen Z learned to read food labels to make sure the snack met the criteria. They are saying goodbye to sugar—La Croix is their preferred carbonated beverage--and artificial additives. Dairy foods are real, whole foods.

4. Gen Z leans towards real foods to refuel and energize versus supplements and quick-fixes. Chocolate milk—especially protein-enhanced versions--for refueling resonates with Gen Z. Cold-brew lattes beat Red Bull hands down. 

5. They value authenticity, simplicity and sustainability more than customization and organic, but the latter two are still important. Environmental education has Gen Z asking critical questions about their food. Many of their schools have edible gardens, aquaponics and composting. They want to know who is growing their food and how, as well as the waste stream. This is a generation that only knows life with a recycle bin, maybe multiple bins to separate the various streams. They are attracted to sustainable food practices and foods from Mother Nature. Organic sounds nice, but it’s just another label, and Gen Z does not like labels. To them, the story is more important. They want transparency from farm to fork, which makes dairy very relevant.

Trader Joe’s, with its on-trend, lower-cost private-label products, resonates with Gen Z, a generation who was raised during a recession and understand the concept of value. The retailer recently rolled out Avocado Citrus Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. Known for its tart flavor and thick texture, Greek yogurt becomes even thicker and richer when made with whole milk and blended with buttery-soft avocados. This product is brightened with real blood orange concentrate and sweetened with cane sugar. A 5.3-ounce cup contains 11 grams of protein, 190 calories and 15 grams of sugar. It sells for sells for 99 cents.

Gen Z promises to be an enjoyable demographic to innovate for and market to. They are curious, adventurous and transparent, and they want their foods to be the same. It’s time to start brainstorming and getting creative for this group.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? Use this LINK to download a complimentary white paper from Millennial Marketing.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Five Trends Fueling Cheese Innovation

The average American consumes more than 34 pounds of cheese annually, according to USDA. This is a 43% increase over the past 25 years. In addition to innovative applications and recipes—beyond burgers, pizza and tacos—new forms and flavors are driving this consumption.

What’s helping are the multiple placements of cheese around the perimeter of the supermarket, beyond the dairy and deli departments. Creative merchandising keeps cheese relevant with today’s consumers, in particular Millennials and Gen X.{7279EF7C-C92C-4BB7-9153-6D3578965EF4}&pid={772BEDAE-50B9-46F8-861D-E13763FDE010}

Here are five trends fueling cheese innovation to help further drive sales. 

1. Charcuterie. From prosciutto to salami, cured and dried meats and sausages are a booming business. Some of this is because making charcuterie is as much of an art as it is a science and today’s foodie consumers are fascinated by the time and technique involved.

“There are so many levels to making charcuterie, and so many steps along the way,” said Missy Corey, former head butcher and sous chef at Publican Quality Meats, Chicago. “It’s a long process and you invest a great deal of time, and you don’t know until after it has aged if it is even any good.”

What best accompanies charcuterie? Cheese. Restaurants and consumers are seeking out convenient cuts and bold flavors to make appetizer boards and trays. Sharp cheddars, which come in many degrees of sharpness, complement the tangy, fermented tastes of many charcuterie products. Get creative with packaging and merchandising. Work with retailers to have product near charcuterie cases. Offer pairing ideas and even recipes. 

2. Mediterranean Cuisine. The growing popularity of Mediterranean cuisine, which includes the flavors of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Levant and Syria, is apparent by the number of supermarkets that now offer antipasti, charcuterie and olive bars, foods that are indigenous to this region. Many retailers also offer an overwhelming array of dips, sides, condiments and cheese, namely feta and fresh mozzarella.

Source: IRI, courtesy of Midwest Dairy Council

This food trend presents service deli operators and in-store cheese mongers with the opportunity to provide snacking and meal solutions featuring marinated and seasoned cheeses for Mediterranean dishes. It also creates an opportunity to offer such seasoned cheeses on food bars, alongside traditional Mediterranean foods such as gyros, kabobs and shawarma.

3. Breakfast. Wake up and smell the bacon or sausage and taste the melted cheese. That’s what’s trending during the breakfast daypart. Today’s consumers know that protein is a great way to start the day and they are embracing all types of breakfast meats and cheeses. Similar to other dayparts, consumers also crave flavor adventure in the morning. This presents an opportunity for cheesemakers to offer new flavors, formats and pairings for the first meal of the day.

“Today’s consumers seek simplicity on their approach to breakfast. They want no fuss, no drama, no confusion and no time wasted,” says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. “For many, breakfast choices involve removing pain points that could clog the flow of their day and weighing breakfast choices in terms of value for time. In each case, cost lurks in the background, since the breakfast someone normally has is not a splurge or a special occasion. It’s part of the weekly budget for everyday spending. But simplicity drives choice.”

This is driving innovation of protein-dense foods designed for dashboard dining, as well as heat-and-eat meals for convenience. What about a bacon and cheese bar or maple syrup and waffle-battered cheese curds?

For example, Johnsonville, Sheboygan Falls, Wis., has a new Western omelet breakfast sausage in distribution in Canada. Starting with a base of ground pork, this sausage packs in onion, green bell pepper, cheese, scrambled egg and spices that would be included in a Western omelet.

4. Natural, Minimally Processed, Simple. Natural has remained a top influence for shoppers around the world, but communications are shifting, according to a new report from HealthFocus International. Increased scrutiny of vague natural claims and the general overuse of the term within the food and beverage industry has fueled the clean-labeling trend as shoppers look towards other cues to signal that a product is more natural (e.g., organic, non-GMO, fewer ingredients, minimally processed, no artificial ingredients, etc.). Front-of-pack statements are becoming more specific in order to communicate to shoppers what the product is free from as well as what it contains.

Although communications are changing, according to the report, the importance of natural remains as shoppers demand transparency and increasingly seek out “real” foods. It’s no wonder why there’s so much innovation taking place in the natural cheese sector. Consumers recognize the simplicity and naturalness of cheese and are embracing it as an all-day snack. It helps that cheese is also loaded with satiating protein and bone-building nutrients.

5. Snacking. That brings me to snacking, which continues to eat away at the traditional three meals a day dining format. For many consumers, cheese is an important snack. Just look at the plethora of multi-compartment cheese packs invading the dairy department. Many new cheese snacks include meat, nuts and dried fruit.

“We know that the snacking trend is going strong, with only about 14% of consumers eating just breakfast lunch and dinner, according to The NPD Group,” says Rachel Kerr, public relations manager, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. “For most of us, snacking throughout the day is a part of our regular routine, and cheese makes an excellent choice for a healthy snack. If you’re looking for a snack that’s minimally processed and nutrient dense, cheese is a smart choice. The average serving of cheese contains 10 grams of protein and 20% of your daily calcium needs. Pair it with fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, hearty crackers or lean meat for a filling snack that will leave you feeling great.”

To read more about snacking and view a slide show of cheese snacks introduced at IDDBA, link HERE to an article I wrote for Food Business News.

The time is now to get creative with cheese!{7279EF7C-C92C-4BB7-9153-6D3578965EF4}&pid={772BEDAE-50B9-46F8-861D-E13763FDE010}

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chocolate Milk: Here’s How to Keep it on the Menu—in Schools, in Restaurants and the Kitchen Table

Among many disheartening news items this week, there was a story out of San Francisco announcing that The Golden City’s middle and elementary schools, effective this August, will have their flavored milk privileges revoked. In the spring, high schoolers will also no longer be able to enjoy the nourishment and rehydration of nonfat chocolate milk, the only type of flavored milk that had been served the past few years. The reason cited: sugar content.

The Los Angeles school district tried a similar ban in 2011, but after watching students dispose of either unopened or barely consumed white milk cartons, the school brought either nonfat chocolate or strawberry milk back this past school year. It’s been reported that school officials found waste was reduced by 23%.

San Francisco officials say they tested the new policy in some schools this past year and the waste was very minimal. The dairy industry knows better. Study after study has shown most school-aged milk drinkers prefer flavored—usually chocolate—milk.

Here’s something else the dairy industry knows. Low-fat milk, even as low as 1% milkfat, tastes better than nonfat milk. This is true for white and for flavored. And guess what? Delicious and healthful milkfat, as it contains many essential fatty acids, typically makes it easier to lower added sugar.

Here’s the good news. In case you missed the big announcement, on May 1, 2017, the USDA’s new secretary--Sonny Perdue—said the agency will provide greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school meal programs in order to make food choices both healthful and appealing to students. This includes getting 1% low-fat flavored milk back on the menu.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools and foodservice experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said. “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition--thus undermining the intent of the program.”

The most important “flexibility,” as Perdue refers to this deregulation, for dairy processors is the ability to serve 1% low-fat flavored milk through the school meals programs. USDA is phasing this into the school milk policy.

Another flexibility worth noting for dairy processors, namely cheese marketers, is with sodium. For school years 2017 to 2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet “Sodium Target 2,” which was part of the current school nutrition policy. Instead, schools that meet Sodium Target 1 will be considered compliant.

Lastly, there’s now flexibility in meeting whole grain requirements. This is for schools experiencing challenges in finding the full range of products they need and that their students enjoy in whole grain-rich form.

Sounds great, right? Flexibility is one thing, school boards are another! There are a lot of parents who prefer to not believe the consumption studies and the nutrition facts and simply want to make sugar—and fat—the enemy.

Fluid milk processors need to invest in product development to produce a great-tasting, reduced-sugar 1% low-fat chocolate—and maybe other flavored—milks for school. There are technologies available to do this.

At the recent IFT held in Las Vegas, Kerry sampled a sugar-reduced chocolate milk solution that allows for up to a 30% reduction, while still delivering a rich, creamy taste. This solution works for flavored milk sold through all channels.

Source: IRI, provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

Flavored milk is one of the bright spots in the retail fluid milk case. Retail sales data from IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, for the first quarter of 2017, show that flavored milk sales were up 3.5%. Whole-fat milk sales were also up (3.3%), as was lactose free (12%). These three formulations present a growth opportunity in the fluid milk category.

What the data from the first quarter also showed was that the retail decline for overall fluid milk was a bit more pronounced than we have seen in the past two years, with sales down 3.3%. Volume leader, white gallon milk, is driving overall fluid milk declines.

Other IRI data show that the volume of flavored milk sold through retail grew 15.8% between 2014 and 2016 and growth is continuing in to 2017. Flavored milk currently accounts for 10.5% of milk through all channels and 5.6% at retail. Four in 10 households purchase flavored milk during the course of a year. Flavor innovations, value-added formulations, and yes, lower sugar contents, may entice more households to give flavored milk a try.

It’s important to note the life stage that is indexing as high volume users. It’s households with families, both young families and those raising teens. In fact, usage of flavored milk by households with 12 to 17 year olds is 77% higher than the national norm. This data suggests there’s a huge opportunity to formulate for such households.

Something else to also consider when marketing flavored milk, as well as all food and beverage, is touting the product’s clean-label attributes. “All-natural,” “non-GMO” and “no additives or preservatives” are the most common product attributes consumers associate with clean label, according to new research from Kerry. These are also attributes of most flavored milks.

“Clean label has been a purchase driver for more than five years, yet confusion still abounds among consumers as well as manufacturers and brands looking to meet consumers’ needs,” says Renetta Cooper, business development director at Kerry. “Building on our legacy of market insights, we’re working to pinpoint consumers’ specific drivers as they relate to clean label and understand the commercial opportunities related to those drivers.”

While more than half of consumers surveyed reported being familiar with the term “clean label,” just 38% indicated a strong understanding of its definition. Respondents connected product attributes ranging from “farm grown” to “sustainably produced” to “minimally processed” and “made with real ingredients” to “clean label,” demonstrating what a truly multidimensional opportunity it is for food manufacturers and brands.

Keep inherently clean and simple farm-fresh flavored milk on the menu—in schools, in foodservice and the kitchen table.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Protein Ice Cream: It’s Officially A Thing…and some cool ice cream flavors to celebrate National Ice Cream Day

National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 16. This U.S. celebration is observed annually on the third Sunday in July and is a part of National Ice Cream Month.

Legend has it that ice cream was introduced to the U.S. by Quaker colonists who brought their recipes with them when they traveled across the Atlantic to the New World. Their ice cream was sold at shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era.

Here are some noteworthy ice cream dates:

  • 1813–First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream at the Inaugural Ball.
  • 1832–Confectioner Augustus Jackson created multiple ice cream recipes as well as a superior technique to manufacture ice cream.
  • 1843–Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia received the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
  • 1920–Harry Burt puts the first ice cream trucks on the streets.
  • 2017–Protein-packed ice cream became a new segment in the crowded freezer case.

That’s right! For the past five years or so, I have reported on protein-enriched ice cream innovations, some going by the descriptor frozen dairy dessert because of standards of identity. These innovations are available around the world, with the U.S. and U.K. leading the trend.

In the past six months I’ve noticed an uptick in their popularity, as well as recognition in the press. Most recently, CNBC wrote about the success of Halo Top (a frozen dairy dessert) from Eden Creamery LLC. You can read the article HERE.

The article explains how Halo Top’s success grew in 2016 after a GQ journalist wrote about eating nothing but Halo Top ice cream for 10 days. He lost weight and body fat, not muscle.

The low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar brand promises shoppers the indulgence of ice cream without the guilt or empty calories. And consumers are eating it up. In 2016, Halo Top sold 28.8 million pints, which generated $132.4 million in sales, according to data from IRI.

Pints of Halo Top, which contain four half-cup servings, provide 220 to 360 calories, 20 to 24 grams of protein, and 20 to 28 grams of sugar, depending on variety, of which there are 17. Most pints also contain 12 grams of fiber. Between the protein and the fiber, this dessert is designed to satisfy the sweet tooth and curb hunger pangs.

The base mix for Halo Top consists of milk, cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, organic carob gum, organic guar gum and organic stevia.

To read more about Halo Top, link HERE.

I have long advocated that marketers need to do a better job of promoting ice cream—all ice cream—as a healthful dessert. After all, it inherently contains calcium and protein, and depending on the flavor, can function as a delivery vehicle for healthful foods such as nuts and fruit.

Some recent protein-packed ice cream innovations include other nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and even probiotics. 

Such better-for-you ice cream is not for everyone, but it’s definitely alluring to the growing health- and wellness- seeking consumer. This is why some of the larger players have taken note and are entering the category.

As stated in the CNBC article, “There’s no turning back here. This is not a fad,” said Jack Ringquist, principal and global consumer products leader, Deloitte Consulting. “This is truly an evolution that’s occurring and (big companies) need to truly adjust to become positive players as opposed to resistors.”

After all, Nielsen data shows that retail ice cream sales reached $6.6 billion in 2016, up 3.4% from 2015. Conventional products are not the driver of this growth. It’s the better-for-you segment. CNBC reported that sales of products that fit within the FDA’s definition of “healthy” grew 85% in 2016.

The biggest name to enter the category, and just in time for National Ice Cream Month, is Unilever with its new Breyers delights, which contains 260 to 330 calories and 20 grams of protein per pint. Available in four flavors, Breyers delights is promoted as being made with high-quality ingredients, naturally sourced flavors and all American dairy. Flavors are: Creamy Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Mint Chip and Vanilla Bean.
Supermarket giant Kroger wants part of the action and is rolling out private-label Simple Truth Low Cow Lite Ice Cream. It contains 75% less fat and 55% fewer calories than regular ice cream and is described as non-GMO, gluten free, and made with absolutely no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

One pint contains 240 to 280 calories, depending on variety, and 24 grams of protein. Flavors are: Birthday Cake, Chocolate, Lemon Cake, Mint Chocolate Chip, Sea Salt Caramel and Vanilla Bean.

At this year’s Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and exposition, held in Las Vegas June 25-28, the U.S. Dairy Export Council showcased a frozen matcha dairy sandwich. It featured a milk protein isolate-enhanced Greek yogurt filling flavored with matcha green tea wedged between crispy oat wafers. A single serving contains 15 grams of protein and is ideal as a frozen breakfast food or a high-protein snack.

Also at IFT, Agropur Ingredients sampled Fro’duce, a scoopable fruit and vegetable probiotic sherbet with half the sugar of traditional sherbet. The lactose-free sherbet is made with whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate, with one pint providing about 10 grams of protein.

Never Forget: Ice Cream Should Be Fun

To kicking off National Ice Cream Month, Carvel is growing its retail line of ice cream cakes with Carvel Ice Cream Cookie Cake. The new, original treat is a first at grocery and combines two classic American desserts–vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookie cakes–to create the ultimate, sharable indulgence. Complete with Carvel’s famous crunchies around the outside, the new cake resembles a giant cookie ice cream sandwich. Similar to the ease of sharing a pizza pie, the ice cream cookie cake can be sliced, served and enjoyed without needing utensils.

During National Ice Cream Month, Ben & Jerry’s fellow neighbors from Vermont, Phish, are gearing up to kick off a historic 13-night run of shows—dubbed the Baker’s Dozen--at Madison Square Garden in New York City. To celebrate the 20-year partnership with Phish, Ben & Jerry’s is honoring the band with a new very limited-batch donut-themed ice cream flavor: Freezer Reprise. The flavor is a sweet cream ice cream with a vanilla glaze, chocolate donut swirl, chocolate donut pieces and fudge fish. It will be available during the opening night of the run, July 21st, and on select days at special events surrounding the concerts.

Tillamook is playing up its special-batch Monster Cookie for National Ice Cream Month. This fun favorite is cookie dough ice cream swirled with peanut butter and chock full of crispy oats, chocolate flakes and crunchy candies.

This week, Blue Bell rolled out a new flavor to satisfy sweet, salty and crunchy cravings. Aptly named Sweet ‘n Salty Crunch, this new flavor is vanilla ice cream loaded with chocolate-coated pretzel bites, chopped roasted almonds and milk chocolate chunks. Sweet ‘n Salty Crunch is available in half gallons and pints for a limited time.

“Our new flavor was inspired by the popular snack mixes that combine sweet and salty foods,” says Wayne Hugo, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell. “When developing Sweet ‘n Salty Crunch we tried many different recipes, and combinations of ingredients. But in the end, the mixture of chocolate, pretzels and almonds in a vanilla ice cream received rave reviews from our taste panels.”

Earlier this week, General Mills made a big splash at its Annual Investor Day at the New York Stock Exchange with the launch of a global refresh of its Häagen-Dazs brand. The makeover encompasses everything from packaging to advertising to the shop experience and reflects the brand’s status as a leader in super-premium ice cream and more broadly, an international lifestyle icon, according to the company.

The Häagen-Dazs mission is to make every day extraordinary. The refresh is all about staying relevant with consumers, especially today’s millennial consumers who are looking for brands that share their values and that have a deep, relatable story. Colorful, worldly and fun, the Häagen-Dazs brand refresh includes updated packaging designed by more than a dozen up-and-coming artists.

To read and see more, link HERE.

Need Ice Cream Innovating Assistance?

The Frozen Dessert Center, housed within the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Food Science, will hold its first Frozen Dessert Center Conference October 23 to 24 on the UW-Madison campus. Speakers, including myself, will address the scientific, manufacturing and technical aspects involved in the production of ice cream and other frozen desserts. This includes packaging, dairy and non-dairy ingredients, food safety and other trends.

The event’s keynote speaker is Doug Goff, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph. Goff’s talk will cover trends in ice cream ingredients and manufacturing, and the future of frozen desserts.

Participants will be led through an ice cream sensory evaluation and taken on a guided tour of the UW-Madison’s Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and the Frozen Dessert Center’s pilot plant and lab space.

The conference is designed for manufacturers, product developers, researchers, distributors and sales personnel involved in the field of ice cream and frozen desserts. Attendees will gain relevant and up-to-date information on production, ingredients, equipment and distribution.

For more information, link HERE.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Protein Beverages: Dairy leads the jostling herd of competitors. Think beverages for different dayparts.

Photo source: USDEC

Many editors attended IFT two weeks ago in Las Vegas. We returned to our computers with slightly different views of highlights from the annual exposition, and now that our July 4th celebrations are over, are writing about them. (Hope you had a lovely and restful holiday!)

The consensus appears to be that clean-label formulating is a trend with longevity. Unlike in past years when exhibiting suppliers emphasized managing specific nutrients or eliminating individual additives, this year at IFT, that managing and eliminating melded into the bigger agenda of clean-label formulating.

After clean label, editors have different takes on the expo. In my eyes, protein was a leading theme, with animal protein—from cows, eggs and even chickens—in the spotlight. Yes, plant proteins had a very, very strong presence, but when it comes to beverage applications, animal proteins stole the show.

Dairy proteins, followed by fiber, will continue to be key drivers of innovation, specifically in the beverage sector, as convenience grab-and-go lifestyle are only speeding up. It’s time to add protein beverages to your product line up.

According to Euromonitor, the protein beverage market grew by 5.6% from 2015 to 2016 and is expected to grow by 6.1% from 2017 to 2020. The growth is attributed to protein beverages targeted to sports nutrition, adult nutrition and meal replacement.

“The trends show that new introductions are focused on less sugar, clean label, higher protein levels, personalized nutrition, flavor innovation, weight management and more plant-based products,” says K.J. Burrington, dairy ingredient applications program coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. “Protein beverages using a dairy source of protein are the most predominant. Dairy proteins continue to outperform plant proteins on flavor and functionality but that doesn’t mean that dairy proteins are without their own challenges.”

At IFT, attendees learned that protein beverages can be much more than sports nutrition and meal replacement solutions. This was apparent at the U.S. Dairy Export Council exhibit, where USDEC’s team, which includes Ms. Burrington, sampled a Milk & Honey Bedtime Beverage.

The concept addressed consumers’ desire to relax after a long, busy day.

“People are drawn to beverages that reduce stress and promote better sleep,” explained Shannon Koski, account manager with USDEC. “The proteins derived from U.S. milk provide unmatched nutrition, which may help consumers wake-up refreshed and energized.”

The milk and honey bedtime beverage prototype contains 20 grams of protein and provides half of the U.S. daily value for calcium. The chai and honey-infused beverage is made with reduced-fat milk, milk protein isolate (MPI) and micellar casein concentrate (MCC). This creamy and nutritious drink can be served warm or cold for a delicious way to wind down after a busy day or intense workout. The taste and nutrition of dairy makes it the complete package for a product that promotes rejuvenation.

Ms. Koski explained that there are two main trends creating the need for beverages made for nighttime consumption.

“The desire to reduce everyday stress, mentally and physically, is influencing more evening-focused innovations formulated for relaxation,” she said. “Creating a product to meet these needs starts with finding a high-quality protein source. The consumption of slow digesting protein stimulates the rebuilding of muscle tissue while at rest and keep consumers’ metabolisms working for extended hours at a time, including while they sleep. Pairing U.S. dairy proteins with spices can achieve a sense of calm and relaxation before bedtime.”

Photo source: USDEC

The other trend is the at-home café experience, which extends beyond the evening relaxation daypart. This presents an opportunity for café-style dairy protein beverage innovation. After all, consumers rely on café style drinks to get them through the day. Why not make this experience available when the café is closed for the night?

Globally, 53% of consumers believe hot drinks can offer health benefits, unlocking new opportunities for hot drinks that claim to improve health and general well-being. Additionally, 71% of consumers consider re-creating café-style hot drinks achievable or very achievable, increasing the popularity of premium hot drinks for at-home consumption.

“Unlike most protein sources, high-quality dairy proteins such as reduced-fat milk, MPI and MCC contain the essential and nonessential amino acids, releasing them slowly to meet the body’s needs until breakfast,” said Susan Larson, associate researcher, Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a member of the USDEC team. “Among many things, MPI provides a clean dairy flavor without adding significant levels of lactose, while MCC is an excellent fit for shelf-stable, protein-fortified beverages because of its heat stability. In this beverage, all nutrients and viscosity come from these ingredients so no separate vitamins, minerals or stabilizers are needed.”

Ms. Burrington is an authority on dairy protein beverage formulating. She explained in a recent article published for the American Dairy Products Institute that it is important to understand some basic tips for working with dairy proteins to optimize their performance in a ready-to-drink beverage.
“The first tip is to understand the differences in functionality between whey protein ingredients and milk proteins,” she explained. “The pH of the drink is one of the main determining factors in your choice of protein.”

To read an article I recently wrote on protein beverage formulating for Food Business News, link HERE.

Functional considerations include protein hydration, solubility, stability, and of course, flavor. The latter is where dairy shines in the protein ingredient toolbox. If you are interested in learning more, you can attend the Dairy Protein Beverages Short Course at the Center for Dairy Research on October 19. For more information, link HERE.

Remember, the dairy industry must stay strong and showcase its inherent powers in the crowded protein beverage marketplace. Get creative. Milk can be so much more than simply milk.

Global beverage market analysis indicates that milk is diversifying. The market for mixed milk drinks is growing rapidly, especially outside Europe, according to the organizers of drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 11 to 15, 2017. Mixed milk drinks and dairy protein beverages will be a dominant theme at the exposition. More than half of all exhibitors at drinktec 2017 announced during the run-up to the trade fair that they would present solutions for the milk industry.

The last drinktec was held in 2013 and was attended by more than 12,000 visitors from the areas of milk and liquid milk products. This represented an increase of 58% compared with the previous event. During drinktec 2017, exhibitors will present the entire range of treatment of milk, whey and liquid food. This will extend from cooling and storage by means of thermal preservation, and separators and equipment for skimming, standardization and homogenization through to complete systems for milk and liquid milk products. The soft drinks segment will also be providing milk producers with new possibilities, as carbonized drinks containing milk and fruit juice, coffee or tea are gaining traction in Europe and elsewhere.

The drinktec expo is my next trip. Hope to see you there!