Look no further than this global review of new products and marketing tactics to get ideas for future innovations. Though some won't fly for a long time here in the States, with others, it is just a matter of a year or two before either you or your competition introduces them to U.S. supermarkets.

Look no further than this global review of new products and marketing tactics to get ideas for future innovations. Though some won't fly for a long time here in the States, with others, it is just a matter of a year or two before either you or your competition introduces them to U.S. supermarkets.

In the yogurt and cultured dairy categories, the most recent developments include health and wellness products, with an increase in the number of products targeted specifically to children and women's flavor preferences and nutritional needs.

For example, at the end of May, Yoplait introduced Bioplait, which combines the health benefits of dairy with soy proteins. Debuting in France, Bioplait is the result of months of research and development to provide the perfect blend of taste and nutrition. The product comes in three flavors (original, strawberry and peach). Its launch was supported with TV and print advertising. Product packaging also underscores soy protein's role as a complete protein that can help maintain a healthy heart.

In Brazil, Danone introduced Activia Fibras Cerais & Coco Fermented Milk. This yogurt drink is enriched with DanRegularis-a unique mix of probiotics to help regulate digestive functions. According to the company, it is created with a nutritious blend of fruit pulp from coconut, cereals and fiber.

China's Robust launched Yogurt Drink-a fat-free, wellness yogurt beverage enriched with four vitamins, calcium, zinc and fiber. In Germany, Nöm introduced Pro-X Wellness Molke Drink, which is a whey-based drink with 15% peach and passionfruit juices. It also contains vitamins C, E, B1, B2 and B6.

As in the States, yogurt products targeted to younger consumers typically make use of colorful packaging and interesting flavors and colors. They also often contain extra nutrients associated with growth stimulation. For example, China's Robust introduced Intelligence Yogurt Drink. This beverage is enriched with a variety of mineral elements that are said to be vital for improving the mental development of children.

In France, Yoplait launched Tout Petits Filous Dès 5 Mois Yogurts, a fruit pulp-flavored yogurt formulated for babies five months and older. The yogurts are enriched with iron and vitamins B2 and B9, are gluten-free, and contain only natural ingredients.

Look for a continuous stream of new cultured dairy products carrying health and wellness claims. In addition, there will likely be an increase in yogurt and yogurt drinks targeting women and older adults, as well as innovative introductions for children.

The same is true for milk and milk drinks. In fact, future global growth for milk is expected to be in the area of specialty milks.

What exactly is specialty milk? Here's an example from Finland's Valio. New Benecol milk sells in 1 liter cartons. Like Benecol yogurts and fermented milk shot-style drinks, the milk contains plant stanols, which have been shown to reduce the amount of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

According to the company, Valio Benecol milk drink tastes just like fresh milk. It is intended for people with elevated cholesterol levels. A sufficient daily dose (2g) of plant stanol can be obtained from just two to three glasses of the milk drink. It is best consumed close to eating for maximum efficiency.

In Portugal, Lactogal launched Mimosa Bemvital, a skimmed milk with plant sterols that also claims to reduce cholesterol.

The United Kingdom's Dairy Crest recently rolled out St. Ivel Advance, which is marketed to families with young children. The milk comes either semi-skimmed or as whole milk, and contains omega-3 fatty acids in an emulsion format making them readily dispersible in milk. Specifically, the omega-3 ingredient provides docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the two omega-3s associated with normal brain and nervous system development. A 250ml glass of the semi-skimmed variety contains 63mg of DHA/EPA and the whole milk has a content of 113mg. Labels read that studies suggest increased consumption of omega-3s in some people may enhance learning and concentration, as well be important in maintaining a healthy heart and circulatory system.

Indeed, health claims account for the majority of launches in the milk market, with low-fat and fortified options leading the way. Age- and gender-specific products are increasing in popularity, mainly in Asia Pacific. Traditional flavors continue to be popular, while dairy and fruit juice blends become more widespread.

For example, in South Korea, Lotte Chilsung Beverage introduced Lotte Well Being Milk, which is made with brown rice and black soybean extracts and contains 50% less fat than other milk blends.

Australia's Musashi introduced P30 High Protein Flavoured Milk, which contains proteins in a special form that is described as providing maximum absorption. It also contains a special blend of carbohydrates with long-, medium- and short-chain polymers to ensure a steady supply of energy to the body.

In Japan, Meiji Dairies Corp., launched Sodachizakari, a modified milk that is claimed to support the healthy growth of children. It is formulated with 3,400mg of amino acids (per two glasses). China's Lotte Chilsung Beverage introduced a milk drink with added "milk basic protein" and casein phosphopeptide-H. The latter is a bioactive peptide said to stimulate the absorption of calcium.

Vietnam's Vinamilk introduced Smart, a strawberry milk drink targeted at children, with added calcium, iron and vitamins. In China, Sanyuan Quanjia Dairy Co., launched JiaJia. This milk beverage has added nucleolus pink and DHA, both of which are recognized as being important for brain development and function.

Some milk products are positioned for specific uses such as breakfast or as an evening drink. This is a way of ensuring consumers have the ideal nutrients for a specific time of the day. From China's Bright Dairy Group there's Bright Sleep Improving Milk, milk that contains alpha-whey protein, which is claimed to promote good sleep. Australia's Aussie Bodies launched under its Trim brand-Start the Day Breakfast To Go-a milk-based drink with added protein.

To appeal to the growing number of natural foods consumers, it has become quite common to flavor milk with fruit juice rather than artificial flavors. In Germany, Molkerei Alois Müller launched Müller Froop Fitness-Molke, a milk-juice drink containing 9.5% apple, 6% pineapple, 2.9% peach and 1.5% passionfruit juice. In the Netherlands, Frieshe Vlag introduced Milk & Fruit Light, an apple and pear milk drink made from skimmed milk and 20% fruit juice. And Japan's Calpis Co., has rolled out Calpis Healthy Care Beauty Up, a blend of the company's famous lactic acid bacteria drink and three types of fruit juices (grapefruit, lemon and acerola).

Calpis has also entered into an agreement with Unilever for Calpis' blood pressure-regulating ingredient AmealPeptide. Unilever has an exclusive license to manufacture and sell foods and beverages containing AmealPeptide for sale in Europe. The first product Unilever has rolled out is a milk beverage called Becel/Flora pro.activ to the Portugal marketplace.

In the near future there will likely be more milk drinks with added health benefits such as cholesterol-lowering properties. There is also potential for more gender- and age-specific products.

With the category of cheese, low-fat, functional and fortified are the trends. Targeting is strong, with cheese manufacturers offering fun shapes and flavors for kids, and wine-infused cheeses for adults.

South Africa's Savanna introduced Low Fat Feta Cheese, stating on the package that "high amounts of calcium in cheese help reduce the risk of osteoporosis." In Germany, Frico Cheese introduced Cheez'it Light, cheese sticks said to have less than 100 calories and only 4.8g fat per bar.

Germany's Bongrain launched Henri Extra-Light 3%, a low-fat, soft cheese containing only 3% fat. It is low cholesterol and rich in calcium and milk proteins.

There have been several functional cheese products introduced in the past year. For example, in The Netherlands, Angel Technology launched Heartily Healthy, a grated cheese said to reduce cholesterol levels. In Ireland, McNeil Consumer Nutritionals introduced Benecol Light, a cream cheese-style spread made with skimmed milk and vegetable oil, and also shown to reduce cholesterol thanks to the addition of plant stanols.

Finland's Kyrönmaan Juustomesterit developed Julia 10, a cholesterol-reducing cheese made from special rapeseed oil and skimmed milk. Under the Fromarsac Ligne & Plaisir range in France there is new Duo D'envie, a line of cheese spreads containing probiotic kefir seeds that are said to stimulate the natural immune system and digestion.

In Belgium, Valio rolled out Vache Bleue under its better-for-you brand Gefilus. This premium, probiotic Emmental cheese contains the probiotic Lactobacillus GG (LGG).

For Japanese children, Snow Brand Milk Products launched Hi! Cheesecake, an easy-to-peel natural cheese with oligosaccharides. In Hungary, Eru Hungary Cheese launched under the Eru brand, chocolate-flavored cheese slices for children. And in Italy, Bongrain markets Milkana Kidiboo, a strawberry-flavored cheese and milk snack on a stick.

A little bit more adult, Austria's Allgäuland Käsereien now offers Chiantino. This cheese is ripened in red wine for 100 days to obtain a fine wine flavor and a boldly colored rind. Also in Austria, Bergland-milch launched Schärdinger Affineur, a soft cheese with pear brandy.

Indeed, the rest of the world appears to be much more into cheeses with added, flavorful ingredients. For example in the Philippines, New Zealand Creamery launched Che-Vital with Ham, which is a pasteurized processed cheese with ham pieces. In Argentina, Cabañas y Estancias Santa Rosa introduced under the Adler brand, ham-flavored cheese triangles, also containing real ham. For the Poles, Unilever Bestfoods markets Rama Crème Bonjour, a ham and cream cheese spread claimed to be ideal for breakfast.

It's not just ham being added to cheese. It's fruit, too. Australia's Tholstrup offers Castello Apricot & Almond Cream Cheese. In Poland, Exquisa introduced Razemmm, cottage cheese placed over peaches and passionfruit.

And then there is Ketcho' Râpé, a shredded cheese flavored with tomato ketchup from France Fromage. It is available in the United Kingdom and France, and is also available for importing into the United States.

Some dairy manufacturers are blending yogurt with cheese in order to offer their customers a lighter product. For example, in Spain, Kraft Foods has a cream cheese spread called Philadelphia with Yogurt. In Italy, Latteria Montello introduced under the Nonno Nanni brand a range of cheeses including Stracchino Allo Yogurt, which is described as the softness of cheese with the benefits of yogurt's live bacteria.

In Austria, Schärdinger launched a mild cheese made with 13% yogurt and over in the Czech Republic, Povltavské Mlék

There have been some noteworthy introductions in the area of other dairy foods. For example, Poland's ZPT Warszawa is combining margarine with the best Polish butter to form the spread Smakowita. Eye-catching graphics, including all-over lid printing convey the distinctive nature and quality of the product, in particular its suitability for easy spreading on fresh bread.

In The Netherlands, Campina nv gives a new twist to dairy desserts. The company's new Strudel is two product layers swirled into a single portion pack. It gives consumers a dessert that looks striking and offers a surprising combination of flavors, according to the company. Campina was the very first company to apply the swirl effect in desserts, and thereby set a trend. The two layers remain stable and do not run into each other.

Yogurt also is used as an ingredient in premium products such as refrigerated salad dressings. For example, German manufacturer Homann markets the Homann's Dress'Up line of premium yogurt-based salad dressings. The dressings come in convenient squeeze bottles, as well as individual portion-control cups, positioning them as premium dips.

Sidebar: Functional Ingredients Abroad

Functional ingredients are commonly added to dairy products in Europe and Asia. The following recent innovations present opportunity for U.S. dairy processors.

In Spain, Corporación Alimentaria Peñasanta, which is owned by Central Lechera Asturiana, markets (1) NATURLínea, a line of milk, yogurt and orange juice enhanced with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been clinically proven to help reduce body fat while maintaining lean body mass. Furthermore, a recently published study shows that it also prevents fat regain.

In neighboring Portugal, France's Groupe Danone markets (2) Bio Activia Ch

Indeed, tea, particularly green tea, is becoming a very common ingredient in dairy foods. Chlorella cheese from Haitai Dairy, South Korea, is a green-colored cheese enriched with xylitol, green tea extracts, calcium and vitamins. And, Swiss consumers can now enjoy Nestlé LC1 Vital Grüntee, a green tea-flavored yogurt with lactic ferments. It contains the company's proprietary probiotic Lactobacillus LC1 Vital, which is said to regulate digestion.

Germany's Nordmilch eG has introduced under its Milram brand (3) Vitality Body-Fit 0%, a fat-free, fruity whey drink with L-carnitine. Research shows that L-carnitine has a positive effect on metabolism and helps the body burn fat fast.

In Asia Pacific there have been a number of functional dairy introductions targeted at specific age groups and genders. For example, in Indonesia, Mead Johnson introduced EnfaMama, a nutritional milk drink formulated especially for pregnant and lactating women. It is enriched with DHA and other essential vitamins and minerals. In South Korea, Nestlé launched Milk Drink for Pregnant Women, which is rich in iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin A. It is said to help the growth and overall development of babies.

In South Korea, Lotte introduced (4) Probiotic Pomegranate Yogurt Drink, which is a yogurt-pomegranate juice drink containing probiotic cultures. The formulation is described as being especially good for women's health.

The trend is catching on in Europe, too. In Russia, Piskarevskiy Dairy launched (5) Lactinal Sour Milk Drink with Strawberry for Women. This 2.2% fat sour milk contains the probiotic cultures Lactobacillus casei ssp. rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Though not directly marketed as a women's product, (6) Karuku Chitosan Apple Yogurt Drink from Jia Ru Food in Taiwan is attractive to female consumers. This is because the drink contains chitosan, which is a dietary fiber that is claimed to block fat metabolism by combining with fat in the body and eliminating it.

In Japan, JT Foods recently debuted (7) Senoby, a drink containing milk peptides with branch chained amino acids, which are said to alleviate fatigue. It's the perfect pick-me-up for on-the-go moms.

Sidebar: Flavorful Kicks

For the most part, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla are universally enjoyed. Though Americans are exposed to a plethora of flavors when dining, retail flavor innovations are rather limited in the dairy category. Here are some noteworthy global sensory sensations.

In China, Inner Mongolia Yili Industry Co., has recently introduced a

(1) corn yogurt under the Yili brand. Mixing savory with acidic is definitely

an Asia Pacific thing. For example, in South Korea, Sodiaal manufactures

(2) Yoplait Dr Capsule Broccoli & Tomato Yogurt. This probiotic yogurt drink is flavored with broccoli and tomato and is enriched with dietary fiber.

Savory is trendy with sweet, too. China's M&F-Yantang Dairy Products manufactures Meiji Ujikintoki Red Bean and Green Tea frozen ice cream sticks.

Sweet and sour flavors have made their way into some atypical dairy products. For example, in the Czech Republic, Bohusovicka Mlekarna markets (3) Kapucin Bohunka Limetka Citron, which is a prebiotic sour cream with lime and lemon. And Japan's Rokko Butter uses plum paste to manufacture a plum-flavored cheese product that is said to be the ideal accompaniment to the Japanese potato liqueur known as shochu.

Here's one way to wean people off of carbonated beverages, create a yogurt with a similar flavor profile, but of course, containing all the nutrients found in cultured milk. For example, in Finland, Juustoportti launched (4) Cola Citron Yogurt, which is a cola- and lemon-flavored yogurt.

Tea is in fact one of the hottest flavors in dairy. In Portugal, Lactogal has introduced (5) Mimosa & Fruta, a lemon and tea milk drink fortified with vitamins A, C, D and E, and calcium. Following tea, aloe vera is particularly trendy. For example, in Switzerland, Emmi now markets Aloe Vera Sensitive Drink, a milk drink with 10% aloe vera. It is targeted to women with a message that it can assist with inner and outer beauty.


Sidebar: On Being an Import

Americans are increasingly intrigued with imported foods, and will search specialty stores, catalogs and the Internet to find products that satisfy their global taste buds. In the worldwide dairy industry, advanced technologies, including processing and distribution, are making it possible for U.S. retailers to offer some of these items.

Some of the newest dairy foods to enter the States come from New Zealand. Anchor™ butter (1) is described as being made from "grass-fed, free-range cows." The company explains that such butter is higher in omega-3s, beta-carotene and in vitamin A. Anchor Pure Zealand Butter comes in 8-oz packages, in salted and unsalted varieties.

Also from New Zealand are Mainland cheeses (2). Vintage Cheddar is premium matured, extra sharp and has been aged for a minimum of 18 months. There also are sharp and mild offerings, as well as Superior Aged Vintage, which is naturally aged for two years.

Cheese is likely the easiest dairy food to import, particularly aged and harder varieties, as they have long, "durable" shelflives. From Holland comes Beemster® cheeses. The story on Beemster is that the cheeses are made from milk from cows that graze freely on the lush, pesticide-free grasses of the famous Dutch Beemster Polder located in North Holland. All Beemster pastures were reclaimed from the sea in 1612 and are 20 feet below sea level. The rich blue clay of this land gives the milk a sweet, soft consistency, which enables Beemster cheeses to remain creamy throughout the 26 months of its maturation, according to the company.

France Fromage exports to the States a six-variety line of spreadable gourmet cheeses. Flavors are Brie, Camembert, Comte, Goat, Reblochon and Roquefort. The company also markets a 10% cheese topping made with ketchup. Grated Ketcho is promoted as being a healthier alternative to just ketchup or just cheese, as it combines the best of both products: calcium and lycopene. It is also flavorful and colorful, and can dress up a variety of foods, from salads to sandwiches, and baked potatoes to scrambled eggs.

Sterile dairy beverages are also readily imported. Thai Kitchen® Thai Iced Tea (3) comes from Thailand. This special blend of slowly roasted Thai black tea combined with whole milk is sold in 300-ml cans.

Definitely the most challenging of products to bring from overseas, Fage® Total® Authentic Greek Yogurt (4) has been in demand since it first was introduced to U.S. retailers in 2000. Produced in the authentic Greek yogurt tradition, originating in ancient times, Fage Total Authentic Greek yogurt offers a distinctively rich, creamy fresh dairy flavor and texture that is described by consumers as luxurious. This fast-growing, authentic Greek-style yogurt continuously attracts new enthusiastic and loyal consumers who enjoy its unparalleled pleasures and health benefits, according to the company.