NPD Trend Tracker: From sweet butter to Milka chocolate milk

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

From sweet butter to Milka chocolate milk, we round up the latest innovations in food and drink. Image credit: All Things Butter
From sweet butter to Milka chocolate milk, we round up the latest innovations in food and drink. Image credit: All Things Butter

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Sweet butter is creating a ‘new standard’ for the category, we’re told. And that’s not the only sweet NPD for the month. What’s the latest in sweet (and savoury) innovations?

Sweet butter ‘a new standard’ for the butter category

We know that butter is having a moment​, and that moment continues with the launch of a pastry-flavoured offering from UK start-up All Things Butter.

Cinnamon Bun Butter was developed in collaboration with 2018 finalist of UK television favourite Great British Bake Off, Ruby Bhogal. The former contestant has joined All Things Butter as an equity partner.

The new offering has been described as a ‘sweet’ and ‘creamy’ butter, flavoured with ‘aromatic cinnamon, sugar, and a hint of lemon’. It’s designed for spreading on toast, crumpets, muffins and waffles.

Cinnamon Bun Butter joins All Things Butter’s savoury line-up, made up of Salted, Unsalted, Garlic & Herb, and Chilli.

“I’m delighted to share that I will be joining the All Things Butter team to lead the brand’s next project and delve into a new market of sweet butter,” said Bhogal.

“We have been working on some truly delicious recipe developments that aim to evolve the category and get people using butter in new, creative ways. Cinnamon Bun is just the first in a series of amazing new flavours and I am sure all foodies will love it as much as I do!”

From Toby Hopkinson’s perspective, who co-founded the company with chef Thomas Straker last year, the sweet butter range brings innovation to the butter category, which has seen ‘little to none’ in recent years.

“As we can see form both All Things Butter and Ruby’s audiences, consumers are seeking new, interesting flavours in their everyday routines, which is exactly what we aim to offer with our disruptive butter concepts.

“With Ruby’s passion for flavour and expertise in baking, we are confident that our sweet butter range will set a new standard for the butter category.”

Milka chocolate, but make it milk

Milka Chocolate Milk
Image credit: Arla Foods / Mondelez International

Confectionery brand major Milka is expanding into beverages. The Mondelēz International-owned brand is considered one of the most popular on Europe’s chocolate scene, and from June 2024 it will begin rolling out in milk format.

The move comes as Mondēlez signs a licensing agreement with European dairy cooperative Arla Foods. According to the deal, Arla has the rights to produce, distribute, and market chocolate milk under the Milka brand in three countries: Germany, Austria, and Poland.

Three different flavours (Original Chocolate, Caramel, and Noisette) and three different pack sizes (220ml, 250ml, and 750ml) will be available to consumers in these geographies. All products will be made at Arla Foods’ dairy in Esbjerg, Denmark.

“Milka is a beloved brand and I know we have the production, commercial and marketing expertise to take it to the next level which is why our ambition is clear,” said Patrik Hansson, EVP and CMO at Arla Foods.

“We want to achieve number one or two positions in our launch markets.”

Ready meals for the air fryer: A UK first

Britain’s first air fryer-ready meal range is rolling out across Farmfoods, Poundland and independents across the country. The 14-strong line of

air fryer
Image credit: MJ's Diner

frozen ready meals is considered a first-to-market for the category, having been specifically developed for the air fryer.

Sold by MJ’s Diner, the range includes chicken nuggets and fries, katsu chicken and crinkle cut chips, breaded fish fingers with chips, and beef meatballs with chips and gravy. All of the ready meals come in under 915 calories.

An estimated 12.5m households are using air fryers in the UK, which MJ’s owner Noel Davis sees as an obvious opportunity.

“Our range fills a gap in the market for those seeking quick, tasty, and affordable meals without compromising on quality,” said Davis. “With the rising popularity of air fryers, we’re thrilled to offer Brits a convenient solution for their culinary cravings.”

Davis continued: “The range is a no-brainer for time-poor Brits. It’s cheaper, quicker, healthier, and far higher quality than ordering in – every time.”

The frozen ready meals range cook in under 20 minutes and although developed for the air fryer, can also be cooked in a conventional oven. Products are priced from £1.99 (€2.33) to £2.49.

Heinz fills hash browns with beans

Kraft Heinz is again filling hash browns with baked beans, but this time is giving it a barbecue sauce makeover.

Heinz Barbecue Filled Hash Browns
Image credit: Kraft Heinz

The new offering, which follows two previous launches of beans-filled hash browns, combines Heinz BBQ sauce with hash browns for a ‘unique twist’ on the breakfast staple. “First we launched the iconic Beanz Hash Browns, followed by Tomato Ketchup Browns and now we’re bringing another much-loved Heinz favourite to our Hash Browns collection – a new twist for your breakfast this summer,” said Heinz growth director Caio Fontenele.

The Heinz Barbecue Filled Hash Browns will be available exclusively in UK Iceland stores from 4 June. “We’re committed to providing our customers with innovative and exciting foods and we’re thrilled to be offering the new Heinz BBQ Filled Hash Browns exclusively across our stores,” commented Andrew Staniland, group buying director at Iceland Foods and The Food Warehouse.

“The launch of Heinz Tomato Ketchup Filled Hash Browns was a huge hit last year and we can’t wait for people to try this incredible new product, which is sure to be a firm favourite for breakfast, BBQ sauce and hash brown lovers alike.”

Oat-based smoothies with hidden veg

Oats are not only trending in the alt dairy category for adults, they’re also being leveraged within the kid’s food category. And sometimes, even mixed in with vegetables.

This is Three Robins’ approach, which is launching oat milk-based smoothies for

Smoothie Lunchbox - 2 (1)
Image credit: Three Robins

three- to 12-year-olds in the UK. The dairy-free smoothies contain no added sugar and are a source of vitamins B12, b2, and D, as well as folic acid and iodine.

They also contain ‘hidden’ veggies, including carrot, parsnip, courgette, and beetroot.

Three Robins first launched back in 2022 after founder Karen Robinson learnt one of her children was lactose intolerant. “As a mum, I was frustrated by the lack of quality options on shelf, unable to find a brand that could meet all the needs of our young family.

“I felt let down by the high levels of sugar in so many supposedly better-for-you snacks and the limited range of nutritious, plant-based kids treats that my boys would actually enjoy eating.”

The new oat milk-based smoothies will launch this month at an RRP of £1.89 per 100g.

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