IDDBA Report Finds Health-Conscious Consumers Move To Dairy Aisle

An expanding array of good-for-you products is pulling health-conscious customers into the dairy department, according to the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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What's In Store 2011, IDDBA's 25th annual report, finds fortified, fiber-rich, fat-specific, and organic dairy coolers as the anti-obesity movement ramping up in the U.S. Significant growth for the yogurt category is predicted through 2014 with full-fat yogurt taking a sizeable portion (64.5 percent) of the business. Dairy is an ideal method to ingest functional ingredients such as probiotics and prebiotics that are preserved by the category's cold chain delivery. Dairy products have long been highly regarded for their nutritive properties, attributes that dairy manufacturers are taking advantage of. With First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign against childhood obesity in full swing, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their dietary intakes. Sixty-four percent of consumers report someone in their house is overweight, the according to the IDDBA's Consumer in the Deli: Attitudes, Buying Behavior & Purchase Drivers, and more than half of respondents have someone in their household with high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Yogurt innovations are leading the dairy stampede, crowned by the "health halo" that surrounds an ideal nutritional food. Yogurt is portable, compatible with functional ingredients, and available in a full spectrum of flavors. A typically low-calorie/high-protein food, yogurt varieties can be anywhere from plain to fruity, or even sweet treats. Sales of Greek yogurt, with its thick, lavish texture, are strong, as are 100-calorie decadent dessert-inspired yogurts, like strawberry cheesecake and lemon torte. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that are thought to have beneficial effects in the gastrointestinal tract, such as aiding digestion and building the immune system. Prebiotics are used as an energy source by certain probiotics. Some yogurts are primed with B vitamins, while others are sweetened with stevia, a calorie-free, natural sugar substitute.

Enhanced milks, such as those containing vitamins and minerals spanning from calcium to iron and zinc, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, are new fixtures in the dairy department. Low-fat and fat-free milks with vitamin E, and those packed with antioxidants and plant sterols, are ushering functional foods with specific health benefits into the daily lives of dairy consumers. Products that promote better gut health, improved immunity, heart, bone, and nervous system health, and even beauty benefits are now commonplace. With less fat, Greek yogurt is also moving into sour cream's traditional role as a base for dips for a healthier alternative. Cottage cheese has become a medium for increased fiber consumption, from servings that provide 20 percent of the recommended RDI to 100-calorie packs of fiber-enriched cottage cheese with fruit on the side.
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