There’s a battle brewing in the food and beverage industry, a regulatory skirmish in both Europe and the United States over dairy alternative marketers’ use of dairy terms such as “milk” or “butter.” The dairy discourse is examined at length in a free opinion piece from Packaged Facts, White Paper: Terminology Tempest in the Dairy Case.
The recent European Union ruling against soy products marketed with dairy terminology, like the parallel regulatory skirmish in the U.S., reflects a broader “rush to the perimeter” taking place in supermarkets.
“This is a battle for shelf space and consumer dollars,” says David Sprinkle, author of the white paper and publisher for Packaged Facts.
The recent European Union ruling against soy products marketed with dairy terminology, like the parallel regulatory skirmish in the U.S., reflects a broader “rush to the perimeter” taking place in supermarkets. Consumers increasingly seek fresh, whole, natural foods, while budging very little in the priority on convenience. The dairy and refrigerated cases are in this sweet spot, having a huge “fresh” food advantage over the shelf-stable center store, and even to a degree over the frozen food cases. Dairy and refrigerated product marketers and segments, therefore, find themselves embroiled in shelf- space battles with players and rivals that were formerly center store, plus private-label counterparts to these invaders, according to Packaged Facts.
The new generation of refrigerated plants milks—with almond milk and novel blends leading the dairy-free charge—represent far more dangerous competition to dairy milk than the soy milks of yore, safely tucked away in the center store, in perfunctory flavors and in shelf-stable aseptic packaging that does not signal either fresh or milk-like to U.S. consumers. What a difference refrigerated formulation and the familiar gable-top carton makes, according to Packaged Facts.
But it’s not just dairy milk vs. dairy alternative beverages, or dairy yogurt or ice cream vs. soy/tofu versions. Product segments are mushrooming, morphing, stealing thunder from rivals, and gesticulating wildly to attract attention. With grass-fed, dairy milk is taking a page from the meat case. With the Mediterranean diet in mind, butter has been wedded to olive oil. As consumer rethinks their snack food choices, cheese marketers are co-bundling with meat snacks and nuts. With branded refrigerated guacamole dips, avocados have slid over from the fresh produce section. With refrigerated hummus spreads, chickpeas have leapt out of the center store. And meaningful branding, in the refrigerated cases, means dollars. (What’s more memorable: a canned chickpea brand or a refrigerated flavored hummus brand?) Even nutrition bars and nut butters are getting chill with products such as Perfect Bar Almond Butter. And not just the product types: marketers are leaping over, too. Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus Vanilla Beans represents a newer nutritional positioning and flavor profile for parent company Campbell Soup, states Packaged Facts.