Rising consumer demand for healthy and functional dairy products, such as Greek yogurt, drinking yogurt, and flavoured milk, has opened up the sector in terms of innovation, according to ingredients manufacturer, Döhler.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com at drinktec 2013 in Munich last month, Döhler dairy product manager, Katharina Berge, said that despite some physical and regulatory limitations, there is more room for innovation and creativity within the dairy industry than ever before.
“We are a little limited because of the base, because of stability issues, and because of legal restrictions in different areas of the world,” said Berge.
“But beside these points, there is a great variety of things we can do."
Four key consumer trends
Döhler was in Munich to showcase its food and beverage ingredients portfolio and around 180 new product concepts. Many of the developments, which were on hand to taste, were developed specifically for the dairy industry.
Commenting on the factors that inspired the exhibited concepts, Berge pinpointed four key consumer trends.
“We see four main consumer trends in the market – convenience, premium versus economy, health, and naturalness."
“These trends are from the food and for the beverage industry, but they are also very important for the dairy industry, because it is based on a natural ingredient - milk," she said, adding that each of the products addressed one or more of these trends.
Of these four core trends, Berge underlined health and naturalness as the most important.
"For the drinkable dairy products, for example, we have a clean label fruit flavor, which is really authentic in taste, because the taste is only coming from fruit puree and fruit juice," she said. "This is addressing the trend of naturalness."
“We also have a sport-positioned whey drink with coconut and lime," she said. "This product is isotonic, also very healthy. Then we have milk and fruit drinks with cranberry, added guarana, caffeine and malt extract for an energising milk drink.”
Alongside the four aforementioned key consumer trends, Berge identified indulgence as an innovation driver within the dairy industry, and touched on the increasing consumer interest in regionally-manufactured dairy products, such as lassi, a savory yogurt drink popular in India.
"We do see that trends from other regions are coming to other parts of the world," said Berge.
"We are starting to see that with lassi drinks, which are also very popular outside of India."
"Salty drinking yogurt, which is well known in Turkey for example, could be of interest to other markets," she added.