“Faced with declining milk consumption, we need to come up with new products that tap into lifestyles and trends” that influence modern consumers, such as a need for on-the-go, high-protein, healthy options, Susie Hjorth, president of Arla Foods Ingredients North America, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that one reason consumption of liquid milk has been steadily declining for years is that it is no longer convenient to drink.
“Due to changing consumption patterns, not so many meals are consumed at home around the table where it is convenient to put a gallon of milk and drink it,” Hjorth said.
She also noted that the increased availability of trendy juices, flavored waters and even protein-packed water also likely are detracting from fluid milk consumption because they are perceived as more refreshing and new.
Competition from plant-based milk alternatives also is taking market share from dairy milk, she noted.
To compete, dairy companies need to repackage dairy drinks in smaller, single-serving containers that can be consumed on-the-go. Likewise, the vibrant flavor potential of drinkable yogurt blended with fruits and vegetables can compete more easily with exotic flavored juices than can fluid milk, Hjorth said.
Small dairies need not be reluctant embrace these new formats for fear of needing expensive new equipment, according to Arla. Rather, companies that already make set yogurt can add Arla’s Nutrilac protein ingredient at the beginning of the manufacturing process to prevent the yogurt from gelling, according to a June 16 release from the company.
The result is a “refreshing liquid yogurt drink with a protein level of up to 5%,” which allows the product to meet consumer demand for protein, the release notes.
Nutrilac also can be added to Greek style yogurt smoothies to boost the protein up to 7.5% when combined with 50% fruit, according to the firm.
Drinkable yogurt also can be positioned to meet the health and wellness needs of older adults who need protein and calcium to prevent the loss of muscle mass and to protect bones, Hjorth said. Arla’s new Nutrilac Ageless ingredient is specifically formulated to meet seniors’ duel need for high protein and calcium, according to marketing materials.
Hjorth also noted that drinkable yogurt has the added benefit of appealing to men and women, whereas spoonable yogurt is more appealing to women.
Other emerging dairy formats
Cottage cheese and dairy-based dips also are gaining popularity as healthy options that can be consumed at different times throughout the day, Hjorth said.
Specifically, she noted cottage cheese is becoming a go-to option for a low-fat, high-protein and yet creamy snack in Northern Europe. She predicts its popularity will spread to other countries.
“We all grew up with cottage cheese, but forgot about it until now, and we think it will be the new old thing” that everyone will want soon, she said.
Friendship Dairies already is pushing its Fit to Go cottage cheese as a healthy superfood-packed snack with the launch of its new interactive web application in May that encourages consumers to mix fruit, veggies, seeds, grains and nuts into the cottage cheese. The company also offers cottage cheese pre-packaged with mix-ins for a fast, healthy mini-meal or snack.
Daisy Brand also repackaged its cottage cheese last year to emphasize low-fat options and a clean ingredient label.
In instances like these, when functionality and health go hand in hand, products offer consumers “a strong proposition” that can help drive sales, Hjorth said.