Dairy has been a long-time favorite in families; the gallon of milk, wedge of cheese and cups of yogurt are in most consumer homes in North America. But this segment is proving that it offers more than just the staples. Innovative packages, convenient options and new trends are emerging throughout the dairy kingdom.
According to SymphonyIRI, milk, natural cheese and yogurt rule the dairy kingdom and make up 47% of absolute dollar sales and 56% of sale gains. Milk is the king with annual sales of $11.6 billion. Milk’s nearly universal appeal drives 91.2% of households to purchase it an average of 23.4 times a year.
Milk is traditionally packaged in two different formats, the iconic milk carton or the plastic milk jug. But another, hybrid, is now an option from Tetra Pak. New to the U.S. and Canada, the Tetra Evero Aseptic is part-carton, part-bottle and is aimed initially at the white milk market.
According to the National Dairy Board, today’s consumers are looking for more convenient milk offerings than the traditional gallon jug. Tetra Pak has addressed this need with the 1-liter Tetra Evero Aseptic package, a safe, shelf-stable carton for milk that combines the benefits of cartons with the convenience of a bottle shape. The package features the easy handling and pouring of a bottle with the portability and environmental benefits of a carton. In some areas, cartons and bottles go in different recycling streams, so the package comes equipped with an easy, tear-off top feature that separates the two materials for recycling.
“Tetra Evero Aseptic is a new carton shape that delivers ease of use, high impact branding and cost effectiveness,” says Charles Brand, Tetra Pak vice president of marketing and product management.
The new carton bottle keeps milk for up to six months. It is recyclable and made from FSC™-certified renewable paperboard.
If milk is the king, than natural cheese is the dairy kingdom’s queen, holding the second position, with $8.2 billion in annual sales and 6.5% of dollar sales growth. Cheeses of all varieties are popular for use in cooking and snacking. Cheese snacks are an increasingly popular choice, offering an easy way to get your daily dose of dairy. Bel Brands USA, a Chicago-based subsidiary of Fromageries Bel in France, has seen significant growth from the trend. Thanks to its success with The Laughing Cow Cheese wedges, Babybel cheeses and its newest addition of Laughing Cow Cream Cheese Spreads, it’s become America’s No. 1 branded snacking cheese.
In new dairy product news, Bel Brands USA added a mozzarella flavor to its line of Babybel cheeses. The mozzarella joins the other seven grab-and-go cheese flavors. It’s sold in 10-count bags of 3/4-ounce individually wrapped cheese wheels for a suggested retail price of $5.49.
In 2011 Bel Brands reported over $300 million in annual sales, up approximately 18% over the previous year. The company has seen growth despite the lowest level of processed cheese production in more than two decades for the United States, according to data from the International Dairy Foods Association.
How did the company rise above these statistics and stand out on store shelves? President and CEO Lance Chambers says he believes it’s a combination of things.
“Healthy snacking and portion control has definitely played a role in the growth. Consumers are always looking for healthier options but they don’t want to sacrifice [taste]. And I believe our cheese products bring a unique solution because they’re indulgent, so you’re not really giving up on taste, yet they have a better nutritional profile …and they’re portion controlled.” Chambers says.
Yogurt to go
Yogurt is also a royal dairy item, touting health benefits, convenient single-serve packaging and a variety of options. Industry analysts from Euromonitor International, expect the $7.2 billion U.S. spoonable yogurt market to grow 15% by 2016, up to $8.3 billion.
Trader’s Point Creamery recently introduced single-serve yogurts in grab-and-go glass containers. The organic yogurt is minimally processed and unhomogenized. It is available in five flavors and is sold in 5-ounce containers from Verallia North America, one of the leading glass container manufacturers for the food and beverage industries in the United States. Verallia’s new line of 4- and 6-ounce capacity single-serve yogurt glass jars extends the company’s existing family of dairy glass packaging products and incorporates a proprietary sealing primer that enables yogurt producers to utilize traditional foil heat seal lids and induction heat sealing equipment to meet current FDA requirements for proper packaging closure.
“Verallia North America has utilized significant resources to bring a line of single serve glass yogurt containers to the U.S. market,” says Phil McPherson, senior vice president & general manager, food, beverage & spirits business sector for Verallia North America. “Yogurt is a booming food category, especially premium spoonable varieties such as Greek, pro/prebiotic and dessert yogurts. Fast-growing consumer demand is prompting more food manufacturers to enter and expand investments in the yogurt sector. Our yogurt glass jars offer commercial dairies and food producers a new healthy packaging choice that can give them an edge in this competitive market.”
On the other side of the yogurt container spectrum is Chobani’s new Champions Tubes. In January, Chobani added a new packaging format to its Champions line with on-the-go kid-friendly convenience as its inspiration. The new Tubes are squeezable on-the-go authentic Greek-style yogurt in a no-spoon-required, no-mess format. The tubes come in four flavors and are packaged in a box of eight.
The dairy industry offers plenty of options, new products and package innovations sure to reign on shelves both in stores and in the refrigerator.