Value-added dairy layers functional properties on traditional milk benefits

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ingredient Innovation, CMN’s new segment exploring recent innovations and trends in the dairy ingredients sector. For this segment, we will profile a leader in the ingredients industry as well as share updates on mergers and acquisitions and new offerings for cheese and dairy in ingredients — where flavor begins.

Photo courtesy of Fairlife LLC

FILTERED, FROZEN — Fairlife, known for its ultrafiltered value-added milk, also offers other better-for-you value-added dairy products including Fairlife light ice cream.

Photo courtesy of Maple Hill Creamery
GRASS-FED — Maple Hill Creamery is one of the leading producers of organic grass-fed milk for the Northeast. The creamery offers a variety of 100% organic grass-fed milks as well as 100% organic grass-fed kefir, yogurt and butter.

By Taylor Froelich

MADISON, Wis. — Part of the popularity of value-added milk and dairy products is the added benefits for consumers and financial accessibility along with the traditional nutritional benefits of milk.

A recent report released by Future Market Insights (FMI) revealed that the A2 milk market was valued at $1.98 million in 2020, with expectations to reach $4.94 million by 2023.

A2 milk does not contain the A1 beta-casein protein that can cause gastrointestinal problems for people who are lactose-intolerant or have other issues when it comes to consuming and digesting cow’s milk.

A2 milk contains the A2 protein alone, making it equivalent to “mother’s milk,” the FMI report says. This drastically reduces many issues consumers have when consuming traditional non-value-added dairy.

A variety of companies have broken into the A2 and value-added dairy market in recent years, including The a2 Milk Co. (a2MC).

The company broke into the market in 2015, and for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which ended in June, logged a 30% revenue increase in the United States, the company says.

Rising awareness, increasing household penetration and new U.S.-only product introductions, including a2 Milk Half & Half and Hershey’s a2 Milk, are largely responsible for this increase.

This growth also outpaces the 18.94% compound annual growth rate recently forecast for the entire A1-free category, putting a2MC above the competition.

Fairlife LLC, a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Co., brought ultrafiltered milk to retail, and its products feature a complete portfolio of better-for-you, value-added options, including ultrafiltered milk, ultrafiltered lactose-free milk, Core Power High Protein Shakes, nutrition shakes and Fairlife Light Ice Cream.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Fairlife announced it had surpassed $1 billion in annual retail sales for the 2021 fiscal year. Throughout 2021, the company achieved double-digit sales growth week over week as well as a significant share growth in the value-added dairy category across popular retailers.

“We say Fairlife is a nutrition company first, and as the pandemic continues on, high-quality nutrition has never been more important to consumers. 2021 reinforced the importance of our mission to nourish the world with our better-for-you products, and we delivered on this commitment by bringing our wide range of Fairlife products into more households than ever before,” says Tim Doelman, CEO of Fairlife.

Not only does Fairlife offer value-added dairy, but the company also has demonstrated significant progress in the business-critical areas of animal welfare and sustainable practices. Some key achievements for the company highlighted in its stewardship report include increased support for communities through its grant program, complete passage of animal care standards across all of its supplying farms and major advancement toward its goal of 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.

Fairlife also has been recognized by Fast Company and Nielsen for its industry-leading innovation in both value-added dairy products and its stewardship goals.

Meanwhile, a new study conducted by the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences revealed there is an increase in global demand for organic grass-fed dairy products because of the increased nutritional content present in grass-fed dairy.

Cow’s milk contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential human nutrients. However, consuming too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, says Brad Heins, associate professor of dairy at the University of Minnesota.

In a study conducted over three years, the researchers quantified the fatty acid profile in milk from cows fed a 100% forage-based diet and compared it to profiles of milk from cows under conventional management. The researchers looked at traditional and grass-fed organic milk from three regions: the Midwest, Northeast and California.

Traditional non-value-added milk provides 10 to 15 grams of omega-6 for every gram of omega-3. Cows fed a 100% organic grass and legume-based diet produce milk with elevated levels of omega-3 and reduced levels of omega-6, providing a healthier balance of fatty acids, the research says.

“The improved fatty acid profile in grass-fed organic milk and dairy products brings the omega-6/omega-3 ratio to a near 1-to-1, compared to 5.7-to-1 in conventional whole milk,” Heins says.

The highest levels of omega-3s in grassmilk were from the Midwest and Northeast at 1.60% and 1.58%, respectively. California had the lowest at 1.40%.

Maple Hill Creamery, Kinderhook, New York, is a USDA-certified grass-fed and certified organic company that produces milk from grass-fed cows.

Maple Hill products can be found at more than 6,000 retailers across the United States, including Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage, Amazon Fresh, Walmart, Safeway, Sprouts and Stop and Shop.

In addition to 100% organic grass-fed milk, it also offers 100% organic grass-fed kefir, yogurt and butter in a variety of flavors and sizes.

“Maple Hill is rooted in our desire to provide the best nutrition for our own kids, and that idea is still the ‘heartbeat’ of our company — we believe that 100% grass-fed organic dairy farming done right is the pinnacle of organic, creates the best nutrition for all kids, and leaves the soil better than we found it,” says Tim Joseph, the founding farmer of Maple Hill Creamery.


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