CHICAGO — Microwaves can sterilize milk. Bottles are made from paperboard. Ice cream gets hot while yogurt becomes an energy drink. Those were some of the innovations on display at the International Dairy Show (I.D.S.) that took place Sept. 15-18 in Chicago.

Visitors at this year’s I.D.S. were enthusiastic about the future of the dairy products industry. The consensus was “it’s not your daddy’s dairy anymore.”

“There was a lot of excitement on the show floor, among both attendees and exhibitors,” said Carl Herbein, partner and chief executive officer, Herbein + Company Inc., Reading, Pa. “It seems the dairy industry finally gets it. We must innovate to grow and be competitive. The industry needs stimulation and they got it at this year’s expo. It was wonderful to hear processors share plans about investing in their business in order to thrive in the future.” 

Made of recyclable paperboard, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved the Tetra Evero Aseptic carton bottle for fluid white milk.

There were a number of innovations exhibited on the show floor. For example, on the beverage side of the business, Tetra Pak, Denton, Texas, debuted the first aseptic carton bottle for white milk. Introduced in Europe in 2011, the package recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Through the use of industry-first technologies, the Tetra Evero Aseptic provides many innovative economic, environmental and functionality advantages to our customers and their consumers in the U.S.,” said Eliseo Barcas, vice-president of sales and marketing for Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada.

Benefits include the ease of handling and pouring of a bottle but with the environmental and cost advantages of a carton. The ergonomic shape with flat-side panels provides the ideal angle for pouring for both large and small hands. Its attention-grabbing shape offers branding opportunities with printing possible across the entire package surface. The accompanying filling system produces 10,000 packs per hour, takes up to 50% less space, offers up to 20% lower operating costs and requires half of the electricity consumption, compared to other high-speed aseptic bottling lines, said Mr. Barcas. Made of paperboard, the package is also recyclable.

Aseptia, Raleigh, N.C., exhibited its food preservations system at Process Expo, which took place concurrently with I.D.S. Founded in 2006 through a partnership with North Carolina State University, Aseptia offers patented microwave thermal processing to enable the preservation of food products, including fluid milk. Unlike most high-heat aseptic processes that impact the sensory and nutritional properties of food, microwaves maintain flavors and nutrients, delivering fresh-like taste without the use of additives or need for refrigeration.

Earlier this year, Aseptia received the Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award from the Institute of Food Technologists (I.F.T.) as well as the I.F.T. Food Expo Innovation Award.

Delkor, St. Paul, Minn., showcased the patent-pending corrugated Cabrio Case for pouches. The perforated unit quickly converts from shipper to retail merchandiser, a first-of-its kind in retail-ready packaging.

The patent-pending corrugated Cabrio Case is a perforated unit that quickly converts from shipper to retail merchandiser. It eases the burden of stock rotation with pegged pouches, such as those used for shredded cheese according to the company.

“Some retailers have cited that retail-ready packaging can reduce the time to stock shelves by 60%,” said Rick Gessler, director of marketing and strategic accounts. “Pouch products are merchandised in the unit. No peg or shelf separator is required. The unit allows for additional branding for the marketer, while assisting the retailer with stock rotation.”

Ingredient suppliers offered several new product concepts, with ice cream leading the way. Flavor and inclusion suppliers showcased how a touch of heat or spice may add an unexpected kick to ice cream. Products sampled include:

• Berry Cheesy Jalapeño Frozen Greek Yogurt, from SensoryEffects, a division of Balchem, St. Louis.

• Hibiscus Chili Mango Tango Ice Cream, from Parker Products, Fort Worth, Texas.

• Snap Dragon Ice Cream (ginger cookies rolled in sugar and cayenne pepper blended in cinnamon caramel ice cream), from Pecan Deluxe Candy Co., Dallas.

• Spicy Caramel Frozen Custard, from Denali Ingredients, New Berlin, Wis.

Recognizing that everyone wants to know what will be the next Greek yogurt, culture suppliers such as Chr. Hansen, Milwaukee, were present to discuss the development of cultured dairy foods such as cottage cheese, fromage frais, quark and whole milk yogurt.

DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J., showed how cultures and enzymes may assist with reducing or even eliminating added sugars in yogurt. In cheese, the right culture allows for string cheese to be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids without any aftertaste.

DSM’s energy shot, which is based on fermented milk, uses a culture that generates a sucrose-like sweetness profile without the addition of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Westchester, Ill.-based Ingredion Inc., used stevia to provide a two-thirds reduction of sugar in yogurt. The same product also got a nutritional boost with the addition of soluble fiber.

On the beverage side of the ingredient business, T.I.C. Gums, White Marsh, Md., showcased its stabilization technology in acidified ready-to-drink (R.-T.-D.) high-protein dairy beverages. The company uses its proprietary lexicon language to assist formulators with achieving the desired flavor, mouthfeel and visual appeal.

DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, Kas., blended dairy with soy to create a R.-T.-D. protein beverage with 26 grams of protein per serving. This post-workout beverage assists with muscle growth and recovery.

With consumers’ renewed interest in breakfast, DSM developed multi-functional milk-based breakfast beverages. There was a protein smoothie with tropical fruits and oat beta-glucan. A vanilla-cinnamon smoothie also contained oat beta-glucan as well as a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, allowing for a heart-healthy claim.

Energy, too, is a hot button. The company showed expo attendees that energy drinks may be nutritious with its energizer espresso shot, which was cultured skimmed milk enhanced with a boost of caffeine from guarana and green coffee bean extract. The no-added-sugar formulation included stevia. It also was fortified with lutein, which supports visual performance.

SensoryEffects sampled s’mores flavored milk and a whey protein-based fruit and vegetable smoothie enhanced with choline. Because dairies have the capability to process all types of beverages, not just ones containing dairy, the company also showcased tropical fruit juice drinks, including mango lemonade and pineapple coconut.

Dairies also produce R.-T.-D. tea. Templar Tea Time, Providence, N.J., sampled a whey protein-fortified tea, as well as one blended with chia seeds. Flavored offerings included blood orange honeybush, blueberry and hibiscus mint. The company’s new line of liquid tea concentrates allows dairies to produce beverages with a fresh-brewed taste.

Changes coming in 2017

Innovation is the name of the game when it comes to growth and it comes in the form of process, product and package. Innovation also often comes in the form of evolution, which is why ProFood Tech will replace the International Dairy Show in 2017. The new event will be produced by three trade show leaders: The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (P.M.M.I.); Koelnmesse GmbH — producers of Anuga FoodTec, the world’s largest food and beverage processing show held in Cologne, Germany — and the International Dairy Foods Association (I.D.F.A.). It will take place April 4-6, 2017, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“We’re extremely confident that this year’s show offered an abundant array of high-quality exhibitors with the equipment, technology and solutions to meet the industry’s processing and packaging needs,” said Connie Tipton, president and c.e.o. of the I.D.F.A. “We are now focused on evolving and taking advantage of new opportunities. Launching ProFood Tech helps us do just that.”