Boost Dairy Product Appeal By Using Botanicals
Dairy processors may look to botanicals to meet consumer demand for clean labels, added functionality, and health benefits.
Consumers continue to demand more clean-label options when they shop. Since dairy has many options, it provides a great opportunity for brands and manufacturers to address these desires.
Botanical ingredients offer numerous opportunities for formulators looking to add excitement to dairy-based products while keeping a clean label. With the growth in non-dairy options such as cheese and yogurt alternatives, plant-based ingredients also offer function, nutrition, and consumer appeal.
When looking at a trend such as a clean label, the dairy industry might seem like a disadvantage at first glance. Dairy products actually offer a great platform since they are viewed by consumers as inherently natural.
Clean Labels Add to the Marketing Appeal
Adding unique plant-based ingredients to dairy products can help vault new product launches to the front of consumers’ minds the next time they are shopping. Botanicals can also add marketing appeal by capitalizing on the so-called “healthy halo” effect where added ingredients, such as green tea, can help sway a consumer to purchase. The consumer feels good about their purchase because they associate the ingredients with health and vitality.
Consumers generally want to continue to enjoy the products they like but in a way that makes them feel good about their buying and eating habits. Even simple changes or the addition of a single ingredient can make consumers feel like their choices are healthy, and they can also deliver on the expectation of a beautiful appearance and great taste.
Turmeric is another example of a botanical that consumers associate with health. It can also be used as a clean-label alternative to artificial colors so formulators can still develop, for example, a vibrant mango yogurt, but with a color source that also fits with consumers’ clean-label ideals.
Sometimes finding that sweet spot between the familiar and unique that a consumer is willing to try can be difficult. In this case, it may be that a familiar flavor with the addition of an exotic botanical ingredient can help bridge that gap. For example, floral ingredients such as chamomile, lavender, hibiscus, and rose are trending right now, so pairing one of those with a recognized flavor such as raspberry hibiscus or vanilla rose would show consumers they can try something new without going too far outside their comfort zone.
Botanical ingredients also give formulators more nutritional options since they provide the plant-based nutrients consumers are looking for. Seeds, grains, and nuts provide many different options for adding plant-based nutrients and a satisfying texture. Crunchy chia and flax seeds are powerhouses when it comes to nutritional benefits, because they contribute plant-based protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can also be added to yogurts, dairy-based smoothies, and savory cheeses or spreads.
Brands also shouldn’t overlook fiber when developing a new product. Even with all the consumer focus on protein consumption, fiber still ends up being one of the nutrients consumers can’t get enough of. Botanical ingredients offer countless options for formulators looking to add fiber to a dairy product, from whole food ingredients such as quinoa or oats, to high-fiber powders such as chicory root or psyllium. Even fruit and vegetable purees and powders can add fiber along with flavor.
Looking at beverage trends, the continued growth in ready-to-drink cold brew coffee beverages can be a source of inspiration for flavored milk and yogurt drink developers. Along with taste, the caffeine inherent in coffee is a driving factor in consumers choosing coffee beverages in the morning or as an afternoon snack to avoid a slump.
Botanical extracts that contain natural caffeine such as guarana, yerba mate, guayusa, and green coffee can all be incorporated into beverages to deliver a specific amount of caffeine. This gives brands the opportunity to compete with energy drinks and other carbonated soft drinks with the added nutritional benefits that dairy products contribute. By disclosing how much caffeine is contained on a beverage’s label, brands can add more transparency to their product labels, which consumers continue to seek from foods and beverages in all categories.
As other brands continue to develop new cutting-edge products, the dairy category can’t just watch trends pass by. Dairy formulators must make the most of the natural benefits dairy offers and address the consumer desire for more functional ingredients, more transparency, and better nutrition.
Botanical ingredients can help brands in the dairy sector address these consumer preferences and give formulators and developers copious options for any and all finished product formats. Fads may come and go, but the clean-label and plant-based trends are here to stay.
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