As the health and wellbeing trends grow in popularity, new business opportunities arise for food and beverage manufacturers. For example, the retail value of lactose-free dairy is growing by 8% annually.
The key to success in the market is to create products that combine several concrete consumer benefits, for example, a delicious pudding or ice cream that is easy-to-digest but also contains strong nutritional properties like high protein content.
Consumers are actively seeking information about digestive wellness and gut health. Google searches on gut health have skyrocketed in recent years. One of the trends in digestive health is to avoid compounds and foods that cause discomfort – the free-from trend.
Most people are born with the ability to digest lactose but lose the ability as they age. The lack of intestinal lactase enzyme production can be called lactase non-persistence, which leads to lactose not being digested and thus to lactose intolerance.
“Consumers may not understand what lactose intolerance is. Yet, if they experience symptoms after consuming dairy products, it can be very disturbing, and they might start to avoid dairy altogether. This leads to reduced intake of beneficial nutrients contained in dairy”, says Valio’s senior research scientist Tuula Tuure (PhD).
Milk and dairy products provide valuable nutrients, such as calcium and protein. In fact, dairy contains all the nine amino acids essential for the human body. Thus, a healthier option would be to replace normal dairy with lactose-free and low-lactose products, rather than to omit milk and other dairy products from the diet.
Valio Sweden gained profitability through lactose-free dairy products
The retail value of lactose-free dairy is growing by 8% annually. In areas like the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia, the growth rate is exceeding the average, while growth in Western Europe is expected to be at 8%. Valio Sweden tapped into this growth by launching a range of lactose-free dairy products.
“We chose this new growing category and were the first to enter the market. We had a few key SKUs, like liquid milk, to be relevant for customers. We systematically expanded the portfolio and introduced new innovations to keep the category interesting”, says SVP Pekka Tola, Valio global brand and marketing.
“The most successful brands pick a few consumer benefits and connect them to multiple big trends. For example, a protein pudding that builds on the trend of protein-enriched products and then combines it with digestive wellness. The product is lactose-free, but this is not the unique selling point. It is not even very visibly stated that it is lactose-free. The only visible indication is our Valio Eila® logo, which is a promise for consumers of digestive wellness”, says Valio’s SVP for food solutions sales, Timo Pajari.
Valio Food Solutions help dairy manufacturers create value-added products
If your dairy company is struggling with profitability, a good first step could be lactose-free liquid milk, as it works as an anchor product to link dairy to digestive wellness. Our Valio Fast Track technology solution is your way to start local production of a fresh, high-quality and gut-healthy milk drink.
It is called Fast Track as it takes only a few months from the approval decision to the product launch, and no capital investments are needed. Valio’s lactose-free milk powders offer an easy tool for turning your milk drink, cold brew coffee, ice cream, and other dairy products into solutions that everyone can enjoy.
Lactose-free milk powders can be used in product formulations in the same way as normal milk powders. Valio also offers support in product development and regulatory consultancy. It is worth noting that lactose-free regulations may differ from one country to another.
“Lactose-free can be a great opportunity for profitability improvement when consumers associate the products with digestive benefits. Lactose-free dairy may not be mainstream yet, so now is the time to act. The key to success is making food and beverages with a superior taste and nutritional benefits that consumers can enjoy”, emphasises Pajari.
Find out more about solutions for digestive wellness in dairy and beverages.
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