Successful dairy and dairy-based product innovations rely on research. While customer and market insights fuel the product concepting process, the latest science and technologies can transform those concepts from ideas into successful products.
Through its National Dairy Foods Research Center Program, Dairy Management Inc. ™ (DMI) provides the industry with leading-edge dairy product and ingredient research and technical resources. The unified, coordinated national research program is conducted through DMI-supported research centers, applications labs and other universities to help the industry innovate to address unmet consumer demand for dairy and dairy-based products.
The research program offers extensive resources to dairy, food and beverage manufacturers. These resources include developing new dairy and dairy-based product and ingredient prototypes; enhancing the quality and performance of existing products, and building scientific evidence that supports the image and safety of milk and dairy products and ingredients. The program also provides research, applications and technical support to industry partners, and promotes innovation through industry events and communications materials.
The research priorities of the program are aligned with marketplace needs to provide the science for innovation, as well as the knowledge to address product challenges and bring new product ideas to market. These research priorities cover key aspects of dairy products and ingredients, including:
- Technologies and processing methods for extended shelf-life products;
- Cheese with improved functionality and performance;
- Ingredients with enhanced functionality and performance;
- High-value whey ingredients and coproduct utilization;
- Products for ethnic and specialized demographic niches;
- Safety and confidence in dairy to address current issues that affect the image and safety of dairy products;
- Discovery to identify breakthrough technology that will secure the future of the dairy industry.
CURRENT DAIRY RESEARCH
The dairy research centers aim to help dairy, food and beverage manufacturers meet customer needs through the development of new products, ingredients, processes and packaging. Research conducted at the centers focuses on diverse areas, such as nutritionally enhanced cheeses, specialty cheeses, dairy proteins with tailored functionality for specific applications, products that incorporate cheese and whey protein ingredients, quality improvements to milk, cheese and whey products, dairy food safety and customized products for international markets.
For example, the trend toward health and wellness provides an opportunity for the dairy industry to develop new products that consumers want and at the same time increase sales and consumption. In response to an overall consumer desire to reduce fat intake, the DMI National Dairy Foods Research Center Program has implemented a nationally coordinated effort across several dairy research centers to focus on the development of low-fat natural and process cheeses that are already yielding positive results. As a reaction to the increasing interest in nutritionally enhanced dairy foods, research is underway to develop cheeses that incorporate probiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Whey protein, a high-quality protein derived from cow’s milk, has been growing in popularity as an ingredient that is ideal for value-added foods and beverages. The dairy research centers have assisted many manufacturers in the development of new whey protein-enhanced products that are now on store shelves and restaurant menus, including sports beverages, nutrition bars, yogurts, frozen entrees, baked goods and smoothie drinks. The addition of whey protein ingredients has helped these products to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
APPLICATION/TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT LABS
The dairy application/technology development labs, supported by DMI, provide assistance in prototype/concept development; product and process troubleshooting; production scale-up assistance; and sensory evaluation. The labs are located at the following facilities:
- The California Dairy Research Center: specializes in dairy powders, concentrates, and ingredients, product technology development and ingredient technology.
- The Sensory Applications Laboratory at North Carolina State University: focuses in dairy sensory analysis, including consumer testing, preference mapping and instrument flavor analysis techniques.
- The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research: specializes in functionality, performance and utilization of cheese, whey and milkfat.
- The Dairy Technology and Innovations Lab at Utah State University: focuses on innovative solutions for making value-added cheese and milk products.
- The Institute for Dairy Ingredients Processing at South Dakota State University: focuses on evaluating the commercial feasibility of the manufacture of dairy ingredients.
In the competitive marketplace of food manufacturing and marketing, it is essential to provide high-quality products that consumers want, when and where they want them. The key to success is often in the development of new products and the improvement of existing ones. The DMI National Dairy Foods Research Center Program provides the resources and expertise to help food and beverage manufacturers achieve those goals.
Gregory D. Miller, Ph.D., is executive vice president, Research, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Dairy Management Inc. To learn more about the DMI National Dairy Foods Research Center Program, dairy research outcomes, and research and product development assistance available to dairy, food and beverage manufacturers, visit www.innovatewithdairy.com.