12-13 March 2008, Athens
Session: Market Opportunities
Chair for the 'Taste of the future' conference held at Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens was Richard Hall of Zenith International. Prof Ioannis Politis (Vivartia SA) opened the conference with an overview of the Greek market and discussed milk, cheese and yogurt consumption trends. Cheese is the leading dairy product consumed in Greece. In comparison to other European countries, consumption of powdered milk is also relatively high. Prof Politis highlighted that yogurt is recognised as the best dairy food for introducing "functional” properties to dairy foods. He went on to outlined areas in the Greek market with great growth potential such as lactose free milk, fortified milks particularly milks with cholesterol reducing compounds, omega-3s, antihypertensive peptides, and the introduction of foods which address health issues.
Richard Black (Kraft Foods Global) gave the keynote address entitled "Taste of the future – culture and health” in which he defined consumer trends and consumer fads - trends survive while fads are short lived. One of the new trends for is 'Go for the gut'. Gut health is a wellness issue and perhaps represents the biggest opportunity for the dairy sector in 2008. This is an area already thriving with many companies leading the way with in the area of prebiotics and probiotics. Feeling good, looking good and 'beauty foods' was also suggested as a key trend with antioxidants, polyphenols and omega-3s being the important active ingredients. Other trends included products for 'aging boomers' (50 years plus), 'stop dieting and start living', 'super foods', 'natural', 'back to basics', and more specifically a move away from disease and a new focus on 'wellness'. The speaker also predicted that preventing inflammation would be a trend in 2009 especially in the 50 years plus market. He went on to talk about LiveActive cheese which is a probiotic cheese. Research has shown LiveActive cheese to increase bowel function in females, but has no effect in males. The product is considered successful since it's effect is believable, relevant and ultimately the cheese tasted good.
World School Milk Day was the focus of Michael Griffin's (Food and Agriculture Organisation) presentation. He stressed that the industry must recognise that school milk is an opportunity to present milk and other dairy products to the consumer and to future generations of consumers, however it remains a challenge to present milk in an attractive way. He also called for funding to set up a centre for school milk.
Session: Consumer Perspectives
Ed Garner of TNS Worldpanel gave an overview of market trends in his presentation entitled "How consumers are changing”. This presentation included information on consumer purchasing, trends and increases and decreases in market sales. He highlighted that consumers are willing to pay higher prices for organic and "added value” products, and areas such as organic, fair-trade, and 'ethical' are growing continuously. He discussed price and volume sales for milk, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, cream, and butter, and pointed out that the yogurt drinks market has declined as consumers are now moving towards consumption of yogurts instead of yogurt drinks. Milk and cheese have also experienced price increases.
The keynote address in this session was given by Prof Toon van Hooijdonk (GDP and Campina). He discussed the importance of communicating dairy values to consumers. He discussed the strengths, weakness, threats and opportunities for the dairy industry and stressed that the work of GDP would follow an "offensive” mode rather than a "defensive” mode when communicating with consumers. The positive messages about dairy will centre on its' nutrient rich content and the positive role it plays in weight management and hypertension in addition to many other health benefits.
Session: Global Outlook
Day two of the conference began with a session entitled Global Outlook with Jim Begg (International Dairy Federation) discussing latest global market trends and developments. This was followed by Alexander Garagaty of Millisecond Technologies Corporation presenting information on a new pasteurisation technique which results in a product that is absolutely sterile within a shorter time scale than normally needed.
Session: Focus on Functionality
This session incorporated presentations from companies which have launched new and successful products onto the market which offer a health benefit to the consumer.
Mauro Bononi (Granarola Milk and Beverages, Italy) presented information on a new milk drink targeted at females with added fibre to promote regular bowel function. The product is doing well on the market as its' taste is accepted and consistent. The milk is a semi-skimmed milk with soluble prebiotic fibre.
Rebeka Ebrahim (Nöm AG, Austria) presented information on "Fasten Satt + Fit", which is a product targeted for weight management. The yogurt contains 6.4g of milk protein per portion which promotes satiety and in this way helps with weight management. The "Fasten” name and brand means diet, fast and purify in the German language and was first launched in 2002. In 2006, the brand was relaunched and currently attracts a younger generation of consumers.
James S Tonkin (Tonkin Consulting, US) spoke on how dairy foods have the potential to play a role in heart health. He stressed that the dairy industry has a unique and diverse product which represents an ideal delivery system for heart health related ingredients. US consumers commonly perceive themselves as being deficient in omega-3's, fibre, plant sterols, wholegrains and calcium and consequently look for fortified products to increase their intakes and improve their wellness. Mr Tonkin put forward omega-3's and omega-6's, soya, probiotics, plant sterols and other bioactives as ingredients which could be added to dairy foods so as to improve heart health.
Erik Rothchild (WheyUP) discussed his energy and protein drink, WheyUp, which he developed recently. As a keen sportsman, Mr Rothchild recognised there was an opening in the market for a combined energy and protein drink and therefore developed the new product which contains 20g whey protein isolate, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fat and is non-carbonated, low cal (90kcal) and sugar free. The energy boost is supplied by caffeine, taurine and B vitamins. This product has become successful with the fitness industry and also senior citizens who require some extra energy and protein. The caffeine present increases insulin levels and therefore energy levels, but the protein present acts to stabilise insulin levels and prevents the associated "crash” in insulin levels.
George Philips (Grace Foods UK Ltd) presented information on "Nurishment” which is a nutritionally enriched milk product. This milk is whole milk enriched with 11 vitamins and minerals and protein. It provides up to 100% of the RDA of key vitamins and minerals and it serves to provide extra energy and nutrition to people with an active and physically demanding life. The product is not seen as a health food, rather it is a milk or meal supplement for those with an active lifestyle and high energy needs.