In our Dairy Product Innovations e-newsletter last month, Donna Berry highlighted a new product from Stonyfield Farm. 

In our Dairy Product Innovations e-newsletter last month, Donna Berry highlighted a new product from Stonyfield Farm.

YoBaby Simply Plain is the first plain, unsweetened refrigerated yogurt designed as a first-food for babies as young as six months. Stonyfield introduced the first YoBaby products way back in 1999, and the line, which has been enjoyed by babies, toddlers and grown ups alike, has grown to include smoothies, and yogurt/cereal blends.

Like many yogurts developed for children, the YoBaby line has recently been reformulated to include less sugar, while additional nutrients have been added. But the latest product does away with added flavorings altogether, and it’s interesting from a couple of perspectives.

To begin with, conventional wisdom has held that American consumers would never cozy up to the tart flavor of traditional natural yogurt. In fact, Stonyfield has over the years attributed its success in part to its early development of mild cultures, which allowed the company to make natural products more suited to American palates. 

Yet, one of the busiest categories in dairy right now is Greek-style yogurt, which is mostly dished up unsweetened and all natural. The new-fangled soft serve frozen yogurt products coming onto the market are much more tart than their predecessors. Could it be that as American consumers become more receptive to new taste experiences a market for sour foods might be emerging somewhere beyond the candy category? Stay tuned.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Stonyfield is to some extent positioning the Simply Plain product as a baby food-describing it as a great way to transition Baby to solid food. This is, of course, the same company that recently introduced, Shift, a dairy-based energy drink made with natural ingredients.

Meanwhile MilkPEP has been busy this year promoting chocolate milk as a winning replenishment drink for athletes.

Other examples of dairy reinvention abound-flavored milk as a ready-to-go beverage, bite-sized ice cream treats that can compete with the box of Snow Caps or Junior Mints at the multiplex concession stand, cheese that acts like an energy bar, beer made from milk, and ice cream made with beer, wine or liqueurs. All have graced the pages of Dairy Foods in recent issues. Starbucks reinvented coffee in part by providing a modern, comfortable place in which to buy and enjoy it. The new frozen yogurt outlets are providing the same kind of environment. (see related story on page 42).

Some of these ideas will get more mileage  than others, but in the long run, there will be dividends paid when you take dairy beyond the usual confines of the category.