"Historically a lot of the application work for our Next Generation Grain ingredients has been in bakery and cereals, but interest in dairy applications has really surged this year," business development manager Vicky Fligel told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We've got people wanting to incorporate oats, seeds and grains into yogurt and yogurt drinks, but also fruit preparations and toppings for dairy products. We've also seen companies incorporate whole flax seeds into cheese as well."
Flax, chia, oats, add nutrition, flavor and texture
While seeds and grains can add nutrition (protein, short chain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber), they also add some interesting textures to dairy products, especially yogurts, she said.
“Flax also adds a nutty flavor as well as an unusual texture. And this isn't a negative. Consumers don’t want these ingredients to be ‘invisible’, they want the texture and flavor to come through.”
Yogurts, dairy drinks, smoothies, cheese
She added: “Most of the inquiries are about our Bevgrad finely milled white chia seed and flaxseed, which can be incorporated into yogurts and dairy beverages at varying levels depending on what claims you want to make [eg. good source or excellent source of ALA omega-3].”
Chia, which has gelling properties, can also help manufacturers replace stabilizers in some applications, making for cleaner labels, she added.
As for quinoa, it's “where flax was a couple of years ago”, said Fligel, but interest is growing, and Glanbia is now developing new grades for bakery and cereal applications, which it expects might also be targeted at the dairy market in future.
There is some real white space in the breakfast area
Breakfast is a particularly good opportunity to combine dairy and grains, she said, with several products combining oats and other grains with yogurt hitting shelves in the past few years from Yoplait’s new Plenti (Greek yogurt with whole grain oats, flax, pumpkin seed and fruit) and The Epic Seed yogurts (chia, fruit and Greek yogurt) to Chobani Oats (Greek yogurt and al-dente whole grain steel-cut oats).
“There is some real white space in the breakfast area,” said Fligel. “Especially in dairy drinks as these can be eaten on the go, for breakfast, as a snack or as a meal replacement.”
Other companies combining grains and yogurt FoodNavigator-USA spotted at Expo West include Zen Monkey and Yoatz, which have developed breakfast yogurt pots with oats and fruit; and Slingshot Foods, which is selling a 'yogurt protein drink with a crunchy shot' containing toasted oats, almond bits, chia seeds, honey and sunflower oil that can be added in, shaken and consumed as a hearty snack, breakfast, or meal replacement.