Skimming the cream of the cow – nutritious, lowfat dairy products

Martin Friedman

Processors are churning out new lowfat and lite dairy options.

Dairy processors in 1991 continued to alter the negative nutritional images of some of their products by introducing a wealth of “low,” “lite,” or “free” new products.

Nonetheless, new dairy product introductions reported for 1991 in New Product News were down 16.3% from 1990 (1,111 versus 1,327). This shortfall is especially significant since overall new food products were up 22% last year. Yet the 1986-1990 five-year average for dairy products is 1,102 products, so the 1991 figure is on target – if the industry is content not to show a strong new product growth trend.

Although the 1991 figures were disappointing by numerical standards, 1991 saw the debut of a wide selection of imaginative, promising new dairy products.

Clearly, “healthier” is the mainspring word for the 1990s, and dairy producers are launching lower fat, lower cholesterol, lower calorie and more nutritious products in every dairy subcategory. In fact, according to New Product News, lowfat dairy products comprised 39% of all dairy products introduced in 1991. “Lite,” or low-calorie, dairy products made up 35% of the total.


A flood of new nonfat, lowfat and less-cholesterol fluid milks poured into dairy cases all over the country last year, and the new products boasted clever names to declare their content. Smith Dairy, Orrville, Ohio, came out with Cholesterol Counters milk, a2% milk with 65% less cholesterol. This introduction is similar to the Land O’Lakes product that won the Grand Award in the 1991 Gorman Retail New Products Contest.

New milk products in 1991 offered other benefits as well. Dean Foods, Franklin Park, Ill., introduced Dairy Ease lactose-reduced milk for the lactose-intolerant. Several dairies – including Anderson Erickson, Des Moines, Iowa; and Southern Belle Dairies, Somerset, Ky. – offered milks with added acidophilus and bifidum cultures.

Many dairies also introduced low-cholesterol eggnogs during the holiday season. Borden Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) and Dean Foods added low-cholesterol eggnogs with. lower calorie counts.


Kraft General Foods (KGF), Northfield, Ill., expanded its “Free” franchise into its Philadelphia and Polly-O cheese labels. Kaukauna Lite 50 – a four-flavor line of spreads from Kaukauna Cheese, Little Chute, Wis. – was the first cheese product to use NutraSweet’s Simplesse fat substitute as an ingredient. Other companies followed at the end of the year with cheeses containing Simplesse.

New cheeses imported from Europe arrived every month. Examples include L’Edel cream cheese from France, imported by Crystal Foods Imports, East Boston, Mass.; and fresh chevre cheese, imported by Swiss American Imports, St. Louis.

Many new cheese snack products offered consumers a dairy alternative to sweet confections. Heluva Good Cheese, Sodus, N.Y., added Cheese Goodies for kids, pasteurized washed cheese curds in single-serve packs of bite-size morsels. Huisken Meats, Sioux Falls, S.D., known.for its meat snacks, expanded into refrigerated cheese snacks to complement its meat stick line.

Single-serve sizes of cottage cheese from KGF’s Knudsen and Light n’ Lively made their appearance in supermarkets in 1991. These two cottage cheese products come in multipacks of different flavors, including peach, strawberry, pineapple, and tropical fruit. Nonfat cottage cheeses also gained space on supermarket shelves, under such labels as Crowley (Crowley Foods, Binghamton, N.Y.), Light n’lively (KGF), Friendship (Friendship Dairy, Maspeth, N.Y.), and Hood (H.P. Hood, Boston).

Both Land O’Lakes (Minneapolis) and Hotel Bar (Secaucus, NJ.) launched light butters. Other producers, including Borden, tried canola oil-based spreads.


The yogurt business was relatively quiet, except for a spurt of new flavors sizes, from Crowley; Penn Maid, Philadelphia; and KGF. Astro Lowfat Yogurt, from Bison Foods, Buffalo, N.Y., was one of the more unusual yogurt products in 1991. It included a container of granola or other crunchy mix-ins to add to the yogurt.

Not all dairy products directed at kids made it in 1991. General Mills, Minneapolis, debuted Yoplait Pudding, complete with a Where’s Waldo? tie-in. It looked like a winner, but perished within the year.

Frozen yogurt continued to make news in 1991 as superpremium entries tempted the cholesterol- and calorieconscious with gourmet taste. Entries in this area came from Haagen-Dazs, Pillsbury, Minneapolis; and Ben & Jerry’s, Waterbury, Vt.

Thompson Medical, New York, came out with Ultra Slim-Fast lowcalorie frozen desserts. KGF and ConAgra, Omaha, went head-to-head introducing Eating Right and Healthy Choice frozen dessert lines, respectively. At year’s end, however, KGF announced that it plans to back-off on its expansion plans for the Eating Right name.

Sugar-free novelties from Eskimo Pie, Richmond, Va., and Lipton’s Gold Bond Ice Cream, Green Bay, Wis., were other so-called healthier alternatives. Many new ice cream novelties were directed at both kid and adult prospects.

In 1991, the top three new product marketers reported in New Product News were Philip Morris (KGF), ConAgra (Beatrice), and Wessanen USA (Marigold and Crowley). All have extensive dairy food businesses. Look for them and other dairy companies to keep aggressive new product programs for 1992.



Fluid milk 24

Ice cream/sherbet, ice milk 397

Frozen novelties 164

Cheese 296

Yogurt 154

Other dairy products 76

Total 1,111

Unusual flavored milks, more low.

fat cheeses, and diverse ice cream

products led this category in 1991.

Source: New Product News

COPYRIGHT 1992 Business News Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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