Formulating for a specific demographic can be risky business. What if they resist? What if they find the formulation offensive? What if they are not willing to pay the premium the product commands for its exclusive nature?

Formulating for a specific demographic can be risky business. What if they resist? What if they find the formulation offensive? What if they are not willing to pay the premium the product commands for its exclusive nature?

Some dairy foods manufacturers are willing to take the risk of targeting a specific demographic. And for many, this might very well be the trick to get noticed in today’s very crowded marketplace. If the target consumer notices and buys, the risk pays off.

This year’s picks for Dairy Foods’ annual Best New Products of the Year are all products for specific consumer segments. From a cheese formulated to meet the nutritional needs of women to milk that helps adults sleep better to cottage cheese that aids digestion, 2007 has been no ordinary year. Line extensions are easy; true breakthroughs are not. Dairy Foods celebrates these accomplishments, and the risks these marketers took to be innovators. 

Dairy Foods magazine commends all processors and marketers for their efforts. The Dairy Foods staff, along with various industry relations, identified eight product lines that represent some of the most promising new dairy and dairy-based formulations. All in the market less than one year, it is still too early to report sales. But one thing is for sure, all of these products are on-target with today’s consumers’ individual needs. Dairy Foods recognizes these innovations and believes their targeted consumer does too.

Also this year, Dairy Foods recognizes WhiteWave Foods, Broomfield, Colo., a growing subsidiary of Dean Foods, Dallas, which has a robust portfolio of premium brands including organic and natural dairy leaders-Horizon Organic and Rachel’s-as well as indulgent dairy favorites such as Land O Lakes products and Hershey’s Milks and MilkShakes. The company is also active in a variety of dairy-alternative categories with products based on heart-healthy soy. A visionary company with an entrepreneurial foundation, WhiteWave Foods maintains a proud tradition of social and environmental responsibility. The company has out-performed all others this year in the area of product innovation, and for this, Dairy Foods recognizes WhiteWave Foods as the New Products Company of 2007. Congratulations to these overachievers!

Dairy Foods magazine congratulates all of the 2007 winners and encourages dairy processors to continue adding value to dairy products through innovation. Remember, every month Dairy Foods magazine provides the industry with information to score a bulls-eye!

A Yogurt for Moms and Their Young

In late September, Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., announced the introduction of YoMommy. This is the first yogurt created to address the specific nutritional needs of pregnant, nursing and new moms, as well as their growing babies.

“Research has proven that a primary time that people come into the world of organic foods is when they begin a family,” says Maureen Wolpert, brand manager. “Upon pregnancy, Mom starts to really reflect on what she puts into her body given that her food choices go directly to her developing baby. Pregnant moms also need to increase their calcium intake to support both their own bones and the development of the baby’s. So, organic yogurt for pregnant (and nursing) moms makes a lot of sense. We took it one step further by helping moms make sure they are getting the other critical nutrients needed in that time of their life-folic acid, DHA (for baby’s developing brain and for maintaining Mom’s) and vitamin D (critical in calcium absorption and bone building).”

Each 4-oz serving contains 100 calories and provides 15% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) of folic acid, 20% of the DV for vitamin D and 32mg of DHA. YoMommy also includes Stonyfield’s special blend of six live active probiotic cultures to enhance digestion and strengthen the immune system.

“We’ve built our company on focusing on unique consumer needs that the big companies ignore in their worlds,” adds Wolpert. “YoBaby is the perfect example. It is focused on a very discrete timeframe in a consumer’s life-the first six to 24 months. Stonyfield now owns that segment because we gave parents a solution for their universal need, which is how to make sure baby gets the nutrients he or she needs in a form that he or she enjoys eating, with peace of mind from our certified organic ingredients.

“We’ve had incredible response from the trade so far because the rationale is so clear and understandable, and we’re the first to develop a product like this,” concludes Wolpert. “This isn’t yet another boring strawberry yogurt launch. This is something that will help retailers grow their overall category as well as attract consumers that are willing to pay a premium for organic foods.”

Ice Cream for Hispanics

“We are always looking for strategic partnerships to enhance our Breyers portfolio,” says Brian Goldstine, director of marketing for this Unilever brand. That’s just what the company did when it decided to aggressively pursue the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic population.

“When we decided to offer a line of products to meet the need of the growing Hispanic population, we wanted to partner with a reputable and trustworthy brand that would be relevant to the Hispanic consumer,” says Goldstine. “Because Goya is considered a leading authority on Hispanic foods in the United States, and has a solid reputation of being the premier source for authentic Latin cuisine in the country, we thought it was the perfect partner for this ice cream and for our brand.

“In developing the Breyers Goya line, we and Goya believed the core flavors should appeal to Hispanic consumers,” says Goldstine. “The Breyers Goya packaged ice cream is available in Mangos n’ Cream, Dulce de Leche, Vanilla and Chocolate. Our Goya frozen novelties are available in Mangos ‘n Cream and Strawberries ‘n Cream ice cream bars. These flavors traditionally appeal to the Hispanic population and to the consumer who is looking for more options in the freezer aisle. 

“Right now we are primarily targeting the growing Hispanic population or those who are looking for more ethnic flavors in their ice cream,” says Goldstine. “One of our main demographics for Goya is Hispanic female heads-of-households who do the shopping for the family. Our distribution reflects that target as well.”

To date, distribution has been focused on high Hispanic-indexing areas where Goya is strong. “The products have been received well by both customers and consumers, and we’ll continue to evaluate and expand where strategic opportunities exist,” he concludes.

Cheese for Women

“Women are a natural choice for a focused dairy cheese because over the years we have received a great deal of feedback from women that they liked the high-calcium content in our Lifetime Fat Free cheeses,” says Jone Chappell, president, Lifeline Food Co., Seaside, Calif. “We decided to take that idea a step further and develop a cheese specifically focused on women’s health. Our research and focus group feedback led us to the final product: a low-fat, rBGH-free cheese that contains folic acid, magnesium, vitamin D and extra calcium.”

New Lifetime Body Smart for Women pasteurized process cheese product comes in three varieties-Jalapeño Jack, Sharp Cheddar and Swiss. Each 1-oz single-serving contains 47 calories and only 1.7g fat.

“We see the demand for functional foods growing as more consumers insist on good-tasting, healthy food options. The success of functional food products in other categories is a good indicator that consumers are ready for more focused healthy products,” says Chappell. “As a group, women are very well informed about health and make over 65% of the shopping decisions.”

Initial distribution commenced during the fourth quarter of 2007 in Minnesota, Florida and California, with planned expansion into the rest of the company’s U.S. distribution channels by the end of 2008.

Cheese for Digestive Health

Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., restructures in 2007 and focuses on innovation in cheese, which is where it all began for this global consumer products goods company.

“In cheese . . . we’re committed to making the necessary investments to get this important business growing faster,” said CEO and Chairman Irene Rosenfeld at the financial investment seminar Lehman Brothers Back-To-School Conference in early September. “This [LiveActive] is yet another platform where we’re leveraging the power of our portfolio.”

Kraft’s LiveActive product lines are targeted to consumers who are trying to balance digestive health, the internal system that often gets upset as a result of stressed lifestyles. The product line includes LiveActive Cottage Cheese under both the Breakstone’s and Knudsen brands, as well as Kraft LiveActive Natural Cheese Snacks.

LiveActive Cottage Cheese provides prebiotic fiber. It comes in three varieties: Mixed Berries, Pineapple and regular. The natural cheese products come in snacking stick and cube forms, in a variety of different flavors. The cheeses are the first natural cheeses in the Unites States to contain probiotic cultures.

“One of our strategies for growth is to leverage the power of our company’s portfolio of popular, trusted brands,” said Rosenfeld. “The LiveActive platform . . . is a good example of how we’re investing in a core business area to provide consumers with added benefits.

“The benefits of prebiotics and probiotics have been proven through 20 years of clinical research so we have chosen both as important ingredients in our new digestive health platform,” she concluded. “As we identify opportunities in our portfolio to address a growing interest in digestive health, our primary objective is to offer a digestive health benefit without compromising great taste or quality. People are looking for products in the health and wellness category, but we’ve also seen that they’re less willing to sacrifice great taste for those benefits. With LiveActive, we pair up ingredients-either prebiotic fiber or a live probiotic culture-to help maintain digestive health without affecting the great taste and quality consumers expect from our brands.”

For Those in Need of a Good Night's Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 70 million Americans currently have trouble sleeping. Of this population, 55% of adults who have trouble falling asleep report concerns about becoming dependent on over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.  Dreamerz is an all-natural dietary supplement that helps people go to sleep naturally and safely.

“Inspired by Mom’s remedy of a soothing glass of warm milk before bed, we saw the opportunity to create an enjoyable product that would naturally support people in relaxation and healthy sleep without the unpleasant after-effects, such as headaches and grogginess, that are sometimes associated with other alternatives,” says Amanda Steele, founder and CEO, Dreamerz Foods, Inc., San Francisco.

The clinically proven ingredients in Dreamerz include a patented, low dose (0.3mg) of melatonin, a naturally occurring sleep-regulating hormone that helps normalize sleep and wake cycles, and Lactium-branded hydrolyzed casein, a supplement derived from milk and clinically proven to aid in stress reduction and relaxation.

This unique combination helps maintain a healthy sleep cycle, the company says. “We did scientific and quality testing, worked with sleep experts and took a lot of naps along the way to developing a rich, comforting and effective product that would also fit into a healthy lifestyle,” says Steele.

The creamy, dairy-based beverage comes in three flavors that can be enjoyed hot or cold: Chocolate S’nores (milk chocolate flavor), Vanilla Van Winkle (French vanilla flavor) and Creme de la REM (dark chocolate mint flavor).

“We know that when people try our product, they love it and it works,” Steele says. “In fact, seven out of 10 people say that Dreamerz improves their quality of sleep.”

Dreamerz is currently distributed throughout California, the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest in a variety of retail channels. “We will continue to build our distribution substantially and expect to have national distribution in 2008,” Steele concludes.

Milk for Special Needs

“More than ever, Americans are looking to improve their health through diet,” says Grant Prentice, president of U.S. operations for A2 Milk Co. “a2 Milk offers consumers who have abandoned milk one more opportunity to include this nutritious beverage in their diet.”

a2 Milk is the brainchild of A2 Corp., of New Zealand. What’s unique about this milk is its protein composition. Through genetic testing, the company identifies cows that produce milk containing the A2 form of beta-casein protein, but not the A1 form of beta-casein. Constructed from 209 amino acid units strung together in a common sequence to form a chain, the key distinction is the 67th amino acid, which in the A2 variant is proline rather than the histidine found in the A1 form.

“About one-fourth of Holstein cattle carry traits for only the A2 type of beta-casein, with the other three quarter carrying traits for other newer variants,” says Andrew Clarke, chief scientific officer, A2 Corp. “The Holstein cows that produce milk containing only the A2 type of beta-casein are identified, segregated and milked to produce a2 Milk.

“Owing to the small structural difference in the amino-acid chain of the A2 protein, during digestion it can be broken down differently than the other beta-casein variants that may be found in milk,” says Clarke. “And, research indicates that consumers may benefit from the down stream effects of this distinction.”

In April, Prairieland Dairy, Lincoln, Neb., became the first U.S. dairy to produce a2 Milk. The dairy is in collaboration with The Original Foods Co., the Nebraska-based marketer of Original Foods a2 Milk. About 175 of Prairieland’s approximately 1,500 cows milked daily produce the a2 Milk currently being sold exclusively in Hy-Vee grocery stores.

“We have worked closely with our partners to sample and market a2 Milk throughout the Midwest,” says Prentice. “We have also engaged in outreach to dieticians and other nutrition thought leaders to get the message out about a2 Milk’s unique protein profile.”

Adult Snacking Cheese

“We have seen a trend in consumer demand for food products that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition,” says Mary Genco, snack cheese products, Sorrento Lactalis Inc., Buffalo, N.Y. “ The new +Plus Calcium and Vitamin D string cheese and the new +Plus 100% Lactose Free string cheese respond to this demand by offering good nutrition, health, convenience and taste all rolled into one.” 

The new snacking cheese products use contemporary package graphics to make them more appealing to adults than traditional string cheeses that have historically been targeted to kids. The new Lactalis cheeses are marketed under the Sorrento label on the East coast and the Precious label in the West. 

“Calcium plus vitamin D is the number-one food fortification requested by consumers, with lactose-free ranking in the top-five,” says Genco. “The new +Plus Calcium & Vitamin D string cheese is fortified with 20% more calcium, and the additional vitamin D boosts calcium absorption. Plus, our other new offering, +Plus Lactose-Free string cheese, is the answer for the nearly 20% of the U.S. population who have difficulty digesting lactose, the major sugar found in milk.”

To raise consumer awareness, “We have put in place an integrated advertising and marketing campaign that includes an extensive public relations and consumer outreach program,” explains Genco. “As part of our initial distribution, the new Sorrento and Precious offerings are available in select markets across the United States, with hopes to expand. So far, the response from both trade and consumers has been a positive one.”

Sparkling Up Kids' Lives

Through a unique licensing agreement with developers at Salt Lake City-based Brigham Young University (BYU), General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, rolled out Yoplait Fizzix for back-to-school 2007. It’s an extension of Yoplait’s Go-GURT brand that comes in a tube. Fizzix adds a tangy tingle to the traditional fruity flavor of yogurt that “fizzifies” the tongues of the 8- to 12-year-olds the company is targeting.

Lynn Ogden, a professor in the College of Life Sciences, invented the formulation for Fizzix in 1983 but wasn’t patented until 1997 or sold until last year when General Mills picked it up.

“Brigham Young University was a great partner for us,” says Lisa Schroeder, R&D vice president, Yoplait division of General Mills. “The launch of Fizzix carbonated yogurt is an example of successfully bringing together two parties with complementary capabilities and resources to introduce a novel product to consumers.”

Yoplait’s ambition in identifying new and promising products like BYU’s sparkling yogurt through its X-squad-a team of individuals that seek out innovative new products-will help Yoplait to maintain its position as a frontrunner and keep its customers excited about future yogurt products.

“The next big innovation that will change the game for food has already happened, outside of General Mills,” explains Peter Erickson, head of R&D at General Mills. “We want the X-squad to find those inventors ahead of our competition.”

Yoplait showed its confidence in the marketability of Fizzix when it bypassed the regional pilot testing program and sent the fizzly yogurt straight to thousands of stores nationwide. Yoplait’s president says that he is pleased with Fizzix’s success in the first month of sales.