The observance of June Dairy Month began in 1937 as a way to promote drinking milk. Since then, the national dairy month has expanded to celebrate all dairy products and their contributions to the world. Like never before, food and beverage manufacturers need to step up to support America’s dairy industry.
This challenge is guided by both principles and profits.
Despite recent dairy industry challenges and an influx of inferior plant-based alternatives, recent data indicates that consumers are returning to real dairy foods in droves. Retail sales of milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream grew by 55% in March compared to the same time last year, with processed cheese and butter being the top two performers.
Are consumers finally recognizing the virtues of real dairy? While the immediate future is uncertain, food and beverage manufacturers can seize an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by offering dairy-based products to give consumers what they want while simultaneously giving a boost to struggling dairy farmers and the industry as a whole. Dairy is nutritious and superior in flavor, and consumers appreciate its affordable price point, convenience and wholesome properties.
Acknowledging Fresh Dairy Drawbacks
While the benefits of traditional dairy products are well documented, the use of fresh dairy does admittedly have some shortcomings for food manufacturers. Most alternative ingredients, however, simply don’t measure up in regards to flavor, texture or nutrition.
Food manufacturers can continue to support the dairy industry and America’s farmers with the use of whey protein powder. It’s an all-natural, all-dairy product derived from the cheesemaking process that overcomes the challenges of using milk, cream, butter and other fresh dairy ingredients, while maintaining its favorable characteristics.
Let’s take a look at the three main drawbacks of using conventional dairy ingredients and how to overcome them with functional whey protein ingredients.
Current circumstances aside, the dairy industry has seen extreme market volatility in recent years. Analysts are divided on whether markets will rise or fall moving forward, which leaves food manufacturers who use traditional dairy products in their formulations in a precarious position.
Forecasting ingredient costs and maintaining consistent cash flow is the foundation of sustaining a profitable margin. Products such as Grande Bravo® functional whey protein serve as an affordable and price-stable dairy ingredient that can reduce or completely replace butter, cream cheese, milk and cream in many applications without compromising taste or texture, eliminating the erratic ingredient costs of other forms of dairy.
Storage and Safety Requirements
A challenge plaguing many food manufacturers that use fresh dairy ingredients is refrigeration and storage requirements. Health regulations by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also dictate special handling and insist on strict compliance. Meeting all these fresh dairy requirements is expensive due to equipment needs, energy usage, extra labor, permits and other associated costs.
Most companies account for a percentage of their ingredients to go to waste due to spoilage, a decrease in demand and other factors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Unlike perishable dairy products, functional whey protein has a much longer shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration. Its compact packaging allows for easy storage to minimize inventory space, and no special permits are required.
High Fat and Calories
Consumers are looking for wholesome, natural ingredients and clean labels on food products. That’s why butter, cream, cheese and other dairy products have seen a resurgence after having fallen out of favor for many years. But some consumers still have a hard time overcoming concerns about the high fat and calorie content found in traditional dairy.
Reducing or replacing premium dairy with Grande Bravo functional whey protein can improve nutrition by lowering fat content and calories. When replacing cream cheese in a spread, for example, it results in 28% less fat while maintaining and even improving the creamy textures found in many applications.
Don’t Forget the “Other” Dairy
During June dairy month, we’d like to spotlight the contributions that dairy products — all dairy products — have on our economy and on the health of our nation. Whey protein is a natural dairy product that some people may overlook, but its multiple benefits and functional properties can enable food manufacturers to continue to use all-natural dairy in their formulations without the drawbacks.
It simply makes sense. Take a look at any of your formulations that currently contain dairy ingredients such as milk, cheese, butter, cream (and even eggs) and you’ll likely discover several opportunities for reducing costs and improving quality using functional whey protein.
Get that list together and reach out to the food scientists at Grande Custom Ingredients Group to talk through how to overcome even the toughest application challenges.