A plain old carton of cow's milk doesn’t cut it these days. There’s plenty of plant-based alternatives challenging the space, but consumers are also looking for more from their dairy.
It’s a trend that Robert Graham, managing director at Graham’s The Family Dairy, has noticed playing out in the space and one that is driving his NPD, with a “fierce” amount planned for the next nine months.
“There is probably a common theme that runs through all of our products. What consumers are looking for is naturally functional… so consumers wanting products that are natural and taste great and with different things beyond fat content,” he tells Food Spark. “There is also a growing desire to buy from smaller companies and family companies that they can relate to.”
Existing products like the Jersey milk are performing exceptionally well, according to Graham, who says consumers are more comfortable with fat and “recognising the additional benefits of Jersey milk with higher calcium and protein,” while its non-homogenised organic milk with cream on top has been a “runaway success.”
Protein is a strong driver of the food development for the company, particularly with its Goodness range, which includes ice cream and the most recent additions: cottage cheeses with fruit compote.
“A couple of years ago we were in the States and saw a lot of fruited cottage cheese over there. We thought it would be a good idea to do it in Britain as no one else is doing it,” Graham comments.
“We came at it a bit differently, making a fruit layer at the bottom. It's a little bit of a cross between cottage cheese and yoghurt in terms of taste profile, and we really call out the protein message. Because the cottage cheese makes you feel full and it’s got good bacteria in it, it’s low calorie, so there is a lot of good messaging to put out.”
While peach in cottage cheese is quite big in the US and made the final cut, Graham’s The Family Dairy trialled lots of different fruits to get the right combination of sweet and savoury.
“I didn’t think strawberry was going to work but actually it worked really well. I was surprised.”
As part of its Goodness brand, Graham's The Family Dairy also launched ice cream with 20g of protein in each tub, with flavours like White Chocolate with Raspberry Ripple, Salted Caramel, Espresso Caramel, Mint Choc Chip and Chocolate Dulce de Leche. Additional flavours are also planned.
Inspired by the likes of Halo Top entering the UK market, Graham says the company felt it could make a superior product with the same calorie range, but with a better mouthfeel and taste.
“For me, our products taste as least as good as normal ice cream, if not better. It’s a strong claim, but we came at it a bit differently,” he adds. “I have never seen the volume and post of comments we have had with the Goodness ice cream since we launched – it’s a huge amount – and our social media reach has 4.5m with almost zero paid support, so that’s quite incredible.”
As for the overall dairy market, Graham believes private label milk is facing challenges as there is no added value; butter is performing well, while yoghurts are struggling in general – those with higher protein or an indulgence factor are bucking these downward trends.
“I think there are going to be more larger brands continuing to decline," he posits. "Private label will continue to decline, while value will be added from branded products that have a story and have got provenance. There will be more products that are seen as functional and are potentially insurgent."