Value Proposition


Healthier, seasonal, gourmet and convenience products can bring additional sales to the dairy department.

Organic dairy is even better for you than originally thought — that was the key takeaway from a recent study conducted by Washington State University (WSU) researcher Charles Benbrook, which discovered new benefits from eating and drinking whole-milk organic dairy.

The study compared conventional milk with organic milk from Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative dairies, which supply all of the milk used in products made by Stonyfield Farm, the top U.S. organic yogurt maker. The results found that in comparison with conventional dairy, organic whole milk had a much better concentration of the essential fatty acids that can aid brain and heart health.

“It’s exciting to see this new science that supports what we’ve always believed — organic dairy really is worth the investment,” noted Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Londonderry, N.H.-based Stonyfield, when the results were revealed last December. “The WSU study goes even further, saying you might actually be able to improve the essential fatty acid balance in your diet simply by choosing around four servings of full-fat organic dairy every day. That’s fantastic news for all Americans who are trying so hard to become healthier.”

Such findings are fantastic news indeed for value-added dairy producers, which are always on the lookout for ways to differentiate their offerings and keep sales flowing in the dairy section.

The Greek Way

As noted in a September 2013 study by Waltham, Mass.-based global marketing technology company Affinnova Inc., Greek yogurt, already a sensation in the dairy case, has the potential to become the next supertrend, with product ideas that could extend it across new categories in food, health and beauty, and baby care.

“Health trends have the power to transform the way consumers view entire product categories, and even brands,” says Affinova President and CEO Waleed Al-Atraqchi. “We’ve seen that with antioxidants and now with gluten-free. The difficulty lies in knowing when a trend is not a fad and how far it can extend across categories.”

But even as they’re poised to make the leap into other parts of the store, Greek offerings continue to mount in the dairy case. Among them is Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt, billed by the brand as the first and only 100-calorie authentic strained Greek yogurt made with only natural ingredients. To achieve the optimal balance of taste, calories and nutrition, the product contains a proprietary blend of three natural sweeteners: monk fruit, stevia leaf extract and evaporated cane juice.

“Until now, consumers looking for a 100-calorie Greek yogurt with natural ingredients haven’t had an option,” notes Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of New Berlin, N.Y.-based Chobani.

“The light yogurt segment represents roughly 20 percent of the overall category, and Greek light is the fastest-growing segment, at more than 300 percent in the last 24 weeks year over year, according to Nielsen,” adds Peter McGuinness, the company’s chief marketing and brand officer, who referred to the new product line as “a significant innovation in a 20-year-old category.”

Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt is available in 5.3-ounce single-serve cups in Blueberry, Strawberry, Pineapple, Peach, Black Cherry and Vanilla flavors; 4-count multipacks; and a 32-ounce size in Vanilla.

Additionally, Breakstone’s has introduced the first-ever national brand of Greek-style sour cream. Consisting of the brand’s traditional sour cream blended with authentic Greek strained yogurt, the product has 50 percent less fat, 40 percent less cholesterol, and twice the calcium and protein of regular sour cream.

“We are always looking to develop new foods that meet a variety of consumers’ needs, and nowadays consumers are seeking better-for-you alternatives,” says Shannon Lester, brand manager at Breakstone’s, a brand of Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods. “Some consumers are already substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, but sacrificing the creamy texture and delicious taste of traditional sour cream. However, with Breakstone’s new Greek Style Sour Cream, consumers can enjoy both.”

The item, available in a 16-ounce container, can be substituted for traditional sour cream when making dips, side dishes, entrées and desserts; in common with all of Breakstone’s products, it can be used for cooking, as it doesn’t curdle when heated.

Buttering Up

Since they debuted on holiday tables back in 1958, Keller’s Butter Sculptures have become a festive American tradition. This past holiday season, Keller’s Creamery, owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), brought out advanced packaging for its Christmas tree butter sculpture, with the repackaged Easter lamb and Thanksgiving turkey due in 2014.

The new packaging includes a molded plastic casing with easy-open tabs that permit convenient access to the butter. Pouring the butter directly into the plastic allows for greater detail to important features of the sculptures, like the tree’s branches and the turkey’s feathers.

“The plastic now encasing the entire sculpture not only provides the butter additional support, but also decreased manufacturing time,” explains DFA Manager of Purchasing Paul Johnson. “Due to increased demand over the last few years, we looked into opportunities which would help us be more responsive to the retailers and also provide a more durable product for the consumers.”

The improved packaging’s rollout coincides with growing demand for all three seasonal sculptures each production year. According to DFA, orders for the Christmas trees alone have doubled over the past two years.

New packaging was also on the agenda for DFA’s Plugrá European-Style Butter, which in time for the 2013 holiday season introduced a convenient table-friendly tub. The container enables at-home chefs who regularly use the slow-churned, 82 percent butterfat product in baking to add it to everyday dishes as well.

“Products with a convenience factor are outpacing the same products in traditional form, such as tub butter versus stick butter or shredded cheese versus chunk cheese,” observes Ashley Campbell, Plugrá senior associate brand manager. “Our research showed that consumers are enthusiastic about packaging that lets them enjoy their favorite European-style butter without the additional time of transferring it to a butter dish.”

The tub launch was supported through retail-level promotions and point-of-sale marketing.

Meanwhile, Land O’Lakes has expanded its hit Sauté Express Sauté Starters, all-in-one combinations of seasoned butter, herbs and spices that can be added to any vegetable or protein, with Teriyaki, which features ginger and sesame.

“Consumers have been telling us they want more Asian flavors,” notes Becky Wahlund, director of the test kitchen at Arden, Minn.-based Land O’Lakes. “When I’m craving a stir-fry, I know that I’ve got all the flavor I need in one little square, without any extra measuring or prep work.”

Already available in Garlic & Herb, Italian Herb, Lemon Pepper, and Savory Butter & Olive Oil varieties, the product comes in a one-flavor package of six 1-ounce squares, with each square able to cook one-half pound of protein.

“It’s exciting to see this new science that supports what we’ve always believed — organic dairy really is worth the investment.”
–Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm

“Products with a convenience factor are outpacing the same products in traditional form, such as tub butter versus stick butter or shredded cheese versus chunk cheese.”
–Ashley Campbell, Dairy Farmers of America

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