• Scientific Advances to Enhance the Consumer Experience with Dairy

    By Mary Wilcox July 28, 2017

    all-dairy-3.jpgThe U.S. dairy industry continues to make strides in sharing the story of dairy. The American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) held its annual meeting June 25 to 28 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The group of educators, scientists and industry representatives are committed to scientific and technical dairy advances, bringing new methods and technologies to the U.S. dairy industry by translating and communicating research findings.

    The ADSA annual meeting is a venue for sharing news and successes, informing those who develop and produce dairy products and ingredients for consumers around the world. About 1,911 attendees from 46 states and 50 counties gathered at this year’s meeting to learn about revolutionary scientific advancements and participate in discussions on the dairy industry and consumer perception updates. One theme stood out at the meeting — increasingly, consumers are demanding more from the products they consume.

    During the Dairy Foods Symposium: Emerging Research and Insights to Drive Innovations in Fluid Milk, attendees discussed how consumers are demanding wholesome, nutritious and sustainable products. Data shared from the IRI Dairy Management Inc. Custom Dairy Milk Database showed flavored milk, lactose-free milk, and whole milk retail sales increased 6.6%, 15.8% and 5.3% respectively, in 2016. These stats represent three very significant turning points in the dairy industry.

    1. Consumers are aware of the changing health perceptions of whole milk, reflected in increased purchase rate. Because newly-released research found no link between saturated fat and increased heart disease, stroke or diabetes risk, consumers are more willing to reach for whole milk. Milk, in its most natural and nutritious state, quenches their desire for real, simple foods. This is already reflected in whole milk representing more than a third of the fluid milk category, as reported in the session. Looking forward, advancing technologies are allowing more customized products to meet consumers’ everchanging needs.
    2. Consumers are interested in responsibly-produced products. Many misconceptions are floating around the media, which can be confusing. The dairy industry is focused on removing this confusion by sharing science-supported facts. The ADSA annual meeting reinforced the protocols that are in place for antibiotic testing to ensure that milk offered for sale is antibiotic-free. Active protocols to measure cow health were also highlighted, such as near infrared analysis, rapid milk analysis tools, estimate blood resultant nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and blood Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Preliminary results show much promise for these rapid methods to be used real-time by dairy farmers to continue their efforts for protecting the environment, reducing carbon footprint and improving the life and health of the animals they care for.
    3. Growth opportunities exist for creating and supplying value-added products. The dairy industry is going the distance to meet consumer expectations. Ingredients derived from milk are part of this story. They have unbeatable performance and nutrition to enhance a variety of foods and beverages. This allows U.S. dairy ingredients to attract a range of consumers for the high-quality protein, mild dairy flavor, health and wellness characteristics, recognizable origin and trusted/reliable history.

    Training the next generation of food and beverage developers is important for the delivery of these ingredients in products for consumers. Consequently, the National Dairy Council (NDC) held its New Product Competition to give students the chance to showcase their ideas for a dairy beverage. Winners were announced during the ADSA annual meeting and included Pennsylvania State University, Kansas State University and University of Wisconsin.

    Meetings and forums like this drive future scientific and technical advancements. Initiatives, such as Undeniably Dairy, are created to remind consumers of what they love about dairy products and ingredients. Milk and dairy ingredients will remain the wholesome, recognizable and nutritious foods that make them an unmatchable addition to all diets.

    ThinkUSADairy is one of many resources that supports the U.S. dairy industry in sharing the good dairy offers. Dairy is the complete packaging and events like this are dedicated to sharing this message.

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