Latest food trends prove dairy is as hip as ever


Fonterra’s Jacqueline Chow reveals global consumer trends driving international dairy consumption. A consumer and food service industry represents NZ$6.5b turnover and growing in more than 80 countries for Fonterra.

At Fonterra, we’re constantly looking at the latest food trends and what consumers want - making sure we’re using our milk collection, manufacturing, supply chain and dairy expertise to deliver the most contemporary consumers an age-old food in the most modern formats.

We’re big investors in dairy innovation, having invested over $1 billion in the last 10 years. Our consumer and foodservice business has grown by $1.5 billion dollars from 2012 to 2016.

Dairy has been around for thousands of years, but it’s a food that is totally on trend with what consumers want today. Fortunately for us, our farmers’ high quality milk is nature’s answer to the latest consumer food trends:

1.    Natural authentic whole foods – Increasingly people want to eat foods as nature intended them to be. They want foods to be naturally authentic as close as possible to their natural state – less processing, less additives and less intervention. They want to eat real butter, real cream and real milk with the great taste that comes from the more natural products. We expect to see more people wanting full fat and reduced fat rather than no-fat dairy products.  

2.    “Good for you” foods – Health and Nutrition matters. Health credentials are key drivers of brand and product choice globally. Increasingly people want to eat foods that will enhance their health and well-being and perform a function in their diet. They are looking for customized solutions, active ingredients that will improve gut-health, digestion, fortify bones, boost immunity, or provide other vitamins and minerals particularly relevant to their stage of life, from pregnancy, to infant and child nutrition, to healthy aging.  

3.    Sustainable diets – People want to choose foods that will have less negative impact on the environment and the communities that produce them; they want food to be ethically sourced, sustainable and from renewable resources; they want to know that food manufacturers have a record of high moral, ethical and socially responsible behaviour.

4.    Grass-fed grazing – As part of the push to understand where natural food is coming from and to  bring more trust, confidence and transparency people are becoming interested in eggs, dairy and meat that are grass-fed. Provenance is as important as ever, and exactly how the food was produced and what inputs were used are becoming important. Consumers are demanding complete transparency through the supply chain right back to what the animal was eating. From the grass to the glass.

5.    Protein craze not just for athletes – People are looking for sources of high quality protein in food and beverages and we can expect to see more scientific research showing the benefits of increased protein intake for adults, moving protein supplements away from the preserve of the gym-set and more into the “everyday”.

6.    Less sugar – Less is more. People are looking for foods that will help them reduce their intake of sugar and bring more benefit. It is becoming more widely understood that less sugar is in fact a key to weight management and to managing or preventing a whole host of health issues.

7.    Healthy snacking – Dairy everywhere on the go. People are looking for “grab and go” foods that are healthy and conveniently packaged. This is true of working adults, single person households and for children’s nutrition. Whether it’s a quick dinner on the way home from work or something to throw in a child’s lunch box, people are looking for easy ways to incorporate more tasty and healthy options into their diet. We expect that consumers will be looking for more healthy foods packed in convenient single serve formats.

8.    Gourmet convenience – There is a big push to cook like a Masterchef at home with high quality ingredients, but people want a few shortcuts to help them achieve Masterchef outcomes without actually having to be a master chef.

9.    Permissible indulgences – Health conscious consumers still want to enjoy some pleasure so to help justify an indulgence they are for looking indulgences that boast more wholesome or natural ingredients. Greek yoghurt with berries becomes a permissible treat.

10.    Good enough to Tweet – Digital revolution makes the  smartphone an indispensable utensil for searching , eating and dining – whether that is sharing images of what you have made yourself or taking a quick snap of a restaurant meal. Eating is more social, interactive and authentic than ever before. People will become increasingly interested in the look of food and what their food says about them; they will be influenced by what their peers are eating; and new food trends will be borne out of social media.

11.    Dairy premiumisation - Desire for “high-end” dairy is happening with improvement of life standards and income. Milk is at the core of added-value tasty and healthy beverages or food launched with packaging innovation for gifting or for specific channels like e-commerce.  

We will keep investing in dairy science, sustainability, nutrition and packaging innovation to make sure we are creating high value dairy products to meet the most contemporary consumer demands.  Dairy is an age-old industry that is totally ready to meet consumer food needs now and well into the future.