Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we were told growing up. Regardless of mom’s advice, recent research conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, an organization established by America’s dairy farmers and supported through the dairy checkoff, indicates that on a typical morning, approximately 42 million people skip breakfast. Why is this? For many Americans it boils down to three reasons: lack of time, not really hungry, or simply not interested in currently available breakfast options.

To help bring breakfast back into the morning routine and emphasize the nutritional value and role of dairy throughout the day, the Dairy Research Institute made the morning meal occasion the focus of the second annual Dairy Research Institute New Product Competition.The competition not only challenged college students to develop a dairy-based product using the latest advancements in product development, it also showcases to the industry the tremendous opportunities for dairy innovation within the valuable morning mealtime market. Notably, dairy is a source of high quality protein, but consumers generally eat less protein in the morning than they do later in the day. Creating higher protein breakfast options provides consumers with the increasingly recognized benefit of eating protein throughout the day.     

The top three student teams are being honored at the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA)meeting in Indianapolis this week. Addressing essential consumer marketplace trends gleaned from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s research, the winning entries highlight the importance of overall convenience, functional health benefits and diverse flavor options to help consumers overcome the breakfast barrier.

Dairy-based breakfast foods focus on convenience, flavor, function

Fitting breakfast into a busy morning routine can be tough. In fact, the primary requirement for most breakfast options is overall convenience and ease of preparation. For busy consumers, these product qualities may be the deciding factor of whether or not breakfast is on the agenda. All three winning entries this year chose to focus heavily on the on-the-go aspect of the morning meal occasion in order to meet the evolving needs of a consumer with limited time.

This year’s winning product prototypes also offer flavor and functional benefits to make consumers think twice about skipping breakfast. To appeal to consumers’ taste buds, several winners experimented with a variety of favorite flavor profiles, while another explored a more uncommon palate.

Emphasizing the value of a higher protein diet, this year’s product prototypes all appeal to those wanting to capitalize on the health and wellness benefits of a diet higher in protein, including building and maintaining muscle mass, promoting satiety, weight management, and healthy aging.

Building on dairy’s attributes to meet consumer needs

The top three teams, as noted below, each zeroed in on a few key trends and ideas to formulate their winning entries:

  •  Maximizing dairy intake— Dairy ingredients, including cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, whey and nonfat dried milk comprised 70 percent of the total ingredients used in “Moofins”, the product earning first place in this year’s Dairy Research Institute New Product Competition. The winning student team from Pennsylvania State University created a novel dairy-based, quiche-like muffin that targets adult consumers seeking a high-protein, on-the-go breakfast item. Mooofins were designed to come in a variety of flavors, including blueberry sausage, maple bacon Cheddar and bell pepper mushroom, and are an excellent source of protein and calcium.
  • Adapting to diet restrictions — It is estimated that 2.1 million Americans have celiac disease, and another 18 million suffer from gluten intolerance. Providing a gluten-free option for those on a gluten-restricted diet, the second-place team from Iowa State University produced DayBreakers. Putting an American twist on gulabjamun, a fried Indian food, the French toast stick-shaped food product provides an easy-to-prepare option for adults. DayBreakers utilizes milk protein concentrate and nonfat dried milk, and is an excellent source of both protein and calcium.
  • Favorite dairy flavors — A combination of several morning favorites like egg, cheese, bacon and waffles, Whey-Go meets the needs of busy adults on-the-go. Ohio State University’s third-place entry is microwaveable, easy-to-eat and an excellent source of protein and calcium. It includes more than 50 percent dairy ingredients, containing fat-free milk, low-fat American and Swiss cheese, whey protein and unsalted butter.

Students in the 2013 New Product Competition rethink dairy

Student teams in the 2013 New Product Competition embraced the challenge of using dairy to jump-start a variety of breakfast ideas. The students demonstrated how dairy can meet consumers’ evolving needs while gaining valuable, practical experience formulating with dairy and dairy ingredients.

We can only imagine the exciting ideas in store from these future food scientists as they advance in their careers, and we look forward to seeing how these innovative ideas help the industry consider new and fresh ways to use dairy in their products.

We anticipate another successful competition in 2014, which willfocus on meeting the needs of the large segment of aging Baby Boomers.To find out more about the Dairy Research Institute New Product Competition and to learn about next year’s competition, visit