Dairylogue: Opportunity Knocks

by Kathie Canning
Dairy R&D Editor
These days, it’s nearly impossible to escape the low-carb buzz. We read and hear, on a daily basis, about the food industry’s mad dash to rid products of those sinister siblings: sugar and starch. Meanwhile, a potentially larger movement is taking shape as savvy food manufacturers work to infuse health-enhancing ingredients into familiar favorites.
With awareness of — and concern over — health issues at an all-time high, the demand for these functional foods soon could be very large indeed. Moreover, dairy products, if formulated and marketed correctly, could play a major role in this market.
Most dairy products qualify as functional foods without further enhancement, serving up calcium and numerous other constituents important to human health. I, for one, feel more comfortable getting the supplemental “good stuff” from products deemed healthful in the first place. I wouldn’t rely on fortified candy bars to protect my family’s health, for example, although I’d probably choose a calcium-fortified chocolate syrup over a non-fortified version if milkshakes were on the family dessert menu.
As a functional ingredient base, however, dairy faces competition from food and beverage categories ranging from margarine to pasta — not to mention the supplement folks. Dairy processors such as yourselves, therefore, would be wise to act quickly and aggressively.
Take a cue from the orange juice folks. What started with a little added calcium since has morphed into a virtual citrus-flavored pharmacy. Orange juice and juice blends now boast functional ingredients ranging from heart-health promoters to immune-system boosters.
And don’t discount a functional ingredient just because it falls
outside the dairy tried and true. Aging consumers are looking for a non-prescription means to control cholesterol and lower risks for heart disease and cancer. Many adolescents are searching for ways to control their weight.
A touch of fiber or a sprinkling of phytosterols could make milk even more healthful, for example, while a bit of whey might add more muscle to the dairy weight loss story.
Finally, promote the functional ingredients your products might already contain. Opportunity is knocking— will you open the door?
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