It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the demands of today’s consumers. Whether it’s for more nostalgic tastes or healthier moments of indulgence, dairy processors will need to keep an eye on these trends to stand out from the competition. 


Health is wealth 

Consumers are increasingly looking for dairy and dairy-alternative products that will provide them with the nutrition they are seeking for their wider health goals. This presents processors with an exciting opportunity to increase the nutritional value of their dairy and alternative products and give them a coveted “health halo.” One way of doing this is by incorporating high-quality fruit ingredients containing those valuable vitamins and other nutrients into their latest innovations. 

Kiwi fruits, for example, possess a high level of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants alongside their refreshingly sweet flavor. Both green and gold kiwis are a great source of vitamin E, which helps to support and strengthen the body’s immune system while also maintaining healthy skin and eyes. 

Alternatively, delicious blueberries are a “superfood” — high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. Incorporating these fruits into dairy innovations such as ice cream balls will ensure consumers are still getting their vital nutrients while also enjoying a sweet treat. 


Bolstering flavors 

Another trend we see shaping dairy purchases in 2022 is that toward unique, diverse tastes. Although the uncertainty of the pandemic encouraged sales of more nostalgic, traditional flavours, consumers are also becoming more adventurous with their cooking, according to a Tastecard survey for 2021 trends. This is another new product development opportunity for dairy manufacturers — bolder, more exciting tastes that appeal to consumers. 

Innovative, nutritious berry blends and flavors such as cranberry or blueberry — or maybe even the sour-sweet honeyberry — can be added into dairy and non-dairy yogurt offerings, as can other fruity flavors. The new Light & Free Cucumber, Watermelon and Lime yoghurt, for example, contains cucumber puree and watermelon juice concentrate for a refreshing — yet unique — twist on traditional yogurt flavorings. Incorporating fruit and vegetable ingredients not only increases the consumer health appeal, but also the sensory profile of the yogurt, something consumers are willing to pay more for. 


Eating clean, living green

With consumers increasingly demanding food and drink products with transparent, ethical origins, it’s never been more important to embrace sustainable practices at every stage of the supply chain. Many are actively seeking ways to make better choices, with 30% of global consumers willing to pay a premium price for sustainably sourced products (Nielsen Global Health & Wellness Survey, Q3 2014).

Specifically for yogurt, consumer concerns about the climate crisis are also influencing purchase behavior, especially among younger adults. Sixteen percent (16%) of U.S. yogurt buyers overall think that being environmentally friendly is an important purchase attribute, with 26% of respondents aged 18-34 agreeing (Lightspeed/Mintel, February 2020).

As a global fruit and vegetable ingredient supplier, ensuring complete traceability across the supply chain is a key priority for SVZ. We keep a close eye on every stage – from agriculture through to processing and transportation — to ensure that our environmental impact is minimized as much as possible, and we have a commitment to achieve 100% sustainable sourcing by 2030, as set out by our 2017 covenant. We’ve seen a focus on sustainability across the dairy market already with the U.K.’s first carbon-neutral dairy yogurt made by The Collective earlier in 2021.


The plant-based revolution

A final trend that’s here to stay is the plant-based movement, which has been adopted so heavily by consumers that we’re not even sure we can call it a trend anymore! Consumers are educating themselves on sustainability issues surrounding the over-consumption of animal derived products, and are choosing dairy alternatives to replace, or supplement, their yogurt, ice cream and dessert consumption.

Dairy manufacturers can use the natural and nutrient-rich sweetness of high-quality fruit and vegetable ingredients such as berries or even tomatoes to differentiate their new plant-based innovations. Japanese company Morinaga Oishii, for example, created a tomato-flavored yogurt designed to provide an exciting yet unusual flavor experience, especially for tomato lovers. Meanwhile, French supermarket Carrefour introduced a plant-based coconut yogurt that uses strawberry as a natural, tasty sweetener. 


Looking ahead

As we look ahead to 2022, it’s important for dairy processors to consider how the latest trends and predictions will impact consumer purchasing decisions. But, most importantly, in the new year, processors can also take steps to improve the quality, taste and sustainability of their products to remain ahead of the competition and meet rising consumer expectations.