Tag Archives: Food

Plant Milks Keep Growing

What is your favorite milk drink? And, no, we don’t mean do you prefer skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk. Because today there are more “milks” available to consumers than just dairy milks.

There are numerous plant-based milks available made from various nuts, seeds, grains, and even vegetables. But the latest is one you might not be familiar with on your morning cereal – it’s a plant milk made from – wait for it – potatoes! The new potato milk is made by Swedish company Dug Drinks and is already being sold in Great Britain with distribution in the U.S. planned later this year.

Dug is far from alone as a non-dairy milk on the shelves and in coffee shops. With a growth in health-conscious diets such as vegan and non-animal food fare, the market has seen a proliferation in food and drink plant-based substitutes made from oats, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, and more. Plant-based foods are trending up as consumers gain interest in sustainability, health, and ethical practices. And of course the pandemic’s impact on supply chain also pushed people to try different products when their old reliable products were not easily available.

“Milk” drinks alone are a large category of products. Sales of plant-based milks in the U.S. were an estimated $2.5 billion at the end of the year, accounting for 15% of all retail milk sales and 35% of all plant-based foods. Repeat sales of the beverages averages 75% for a high level of retention. And, plant-based milk is one of the most developed plant-based food categories and is consistently shelved next to dairy milk.

Most plant-based milks are made the same way; the main ingredient is soaked in water, then pressed or blended into a puree. This is then filtered to remove particles, and additional ingredients may  be added to gain better texture and flavor.

However, the drinks also carry a political weight; the dairy industry had been petitioning the U.S. Food and Drink Administration to prohibit the  term “milk” label for all non-dairy products. And many drinks made from nuts can have adverse environmental impacts, particularly when water is scarce in communities. But, the category is quite innovative and keeps growing to offer additional plant-based drinks and foods.

Now that you know some of the options, what is your favorite milk?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  2. Poll students: What are reasons for people to consume plant-based foods?
  3. Show a brief video about the rise of plant milk: https://youtu.be/yoAeuJlt7qo
  4. Have students use laptops to review various plant-based milk drinks.
  5. Oatly oat milk: https://www.oatly.com/en-us
  6. Dug potato milk: https://dugdrinks.com/
  7. Silk almond milk: https://silk.com/
  8. Ripple plant milk: https://www.ripplefoods.com/
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a positioning map for a plant-based drink. What are the two axis labels they will use?
  10. What happens if the axis labels change?

Source:  Petersen, V. (28 February 2022). Have we reached peak plant milk? Not even close. New York Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Chocolate and Pretzels Make a Perfect Match for Hershey

It’s always snack time around our work place. And of course the best snack flavor profile favors chocolate and salt! Sweet and savory. All of which makes Hershey’s acquisition of snack companies Dot’s Pretzels and Pretzels, Inc. a great match. The two deals will amount to roughly $1.2 billion for the chocolate company and expand its product portfolio farther into the snack area.

North Dakota-based Dot’s Pretzels is a key prize for Hershey as Dot’s accounted for about 55% of the pretzel category growth last year. The snack category overall has done well under the pandemic as people everywhere reach for comfort foods and treats. And it’s easy to grab snacks when studying or working from home!

Pretzels aren’t the only product that Hershey is buying. In 2018 it bought SkinnyPop popcorn maker Amplify Snack Brands for $1.6 billion. Hershey also has entered into the nutrition bar category, diversifying from chocolate as consumers buy healthier snacks.  Hershey has also acquired Krave jerky and expanded Reese’s pretzel-nut-chocolate snacks. Other new treats from the company include:

  • KIT KAT Thins
  • Reese’s Snack Cakes for a mid-morning snack
  • Organic Hershey’s Bars
  • Organic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Zero sugar chocolates

Shoppers seek more options than ever before. Hershey’s stated goal: Become a snacking behemoth. That’s a tall order when competing with companies the size of Nestle, PepsiCo, Mondelez, and Kraft.

Care for a snack?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. NOTE: If available near you, buy a couple of bags of Dot’s Pretzels and bring them to class (along with Hershey bars). It’s always a nice idea to feed students.
  2. Discuss the four primary marketing strategies: market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification. When is each used?
  3. Which strategy is Hershey’s using with Dot’s Pretzels? Why is it in acquisition mode?
  4. Show the list of brands Hershey owns: https://www.hersheyland.com/brands
  5. Show Dot’s website: https://dotspretzels.com/
  6. Next, discuss setting SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) for marketing strategies.
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop five SMART objectives for the new acquisition’s products.

Source: Hershey to buy two pretzel makers for $1.2 billion, Reuters News Service; Newman, J. (Nov 10, 2021), Hershey plans to spend $1.2 billion in deals for pretzel producers, Wall Street Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Global Cuisine in the Supermarket

Why do grocery stores still have an ethnic foods aisle? This seems out-of-date as an estimated 40% of Americans now identify as nonwhite. While some people think this is a racist label, others just find it confusing and makes it hard to find the foods they want.

The origin of the ethnic food aisle date back to the start of supermarkets in the early 1900s. Prior to the 1920s, shoppers visited several independent shops (butcher, baker, etc.) for different foods and supplies. In fact, some stores retrieved all items from the shelves for the consumer – the consumer didn’t shop, or roam down aisles looking for foods. A clerk did the shopping for them.

The first major self-service grocery supermarket was Piggly Wiggly in 1916, located in Memphis, Tenn. The growth of supermarkets and self-service shopping required that foods be organized by like items and tastes so they could be found in the store. Items needed for international cuisine dishes were therefore placed together so that the recipe items could be easily purchased.

Today, the ethnic food aisles seem to be a hodge-podge of items. There might be Chinese ingredients, fish sauces, Mexican spices, Korean noodles, African flour, and others all pulled together in a central place. Even in that format, many shoppers like the variety of the aisle, considering it a place to find new or unusual flavors.

Some stores such as Kroger have integrated global foods into every aisle and seen great success. Other stores prefer to keep items separate so that they can be highlighted differently.

What’s your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the evolution of grocery stores and shopping.
  2. Show a great video highlighting ethnic food aisle issues: https://youtu.be/4Q–YIt_0Hw
  3. For a longer exercise, divide students into teams and have them visit a local American supermarket. They can diagram aisles and take photos of shelves and foods.
  4. What are their observations about how and where more ethnic foods are stocked?
  5. How could ethnic foods be categorized in stores?

Source:  Business Insider; New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized