For Arla Foods, the meaning of clean label goes beyond the ingredient list and extends to traceability.
Enhancing dairy’s health halo
Clean label takes a different, yet somewhat parallel spin in the dairy department. After all, fluid milk is a local-farm sourced product. But what about the sourcing of the other ingredients that go into dairy foods such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt?
That is why for Arla Foods Inc., Basking Ridge, N.J., the meaning of clean label also goes beyond the ingredients list.
“It’s not only about having ingredients a shopper can recognize, it’s also about knowing where those ingredients come from, if the company you’re buying from actually is the producer and how that company goes about its business,” said Don Stohrer, head of U.S. operations for Arla. “Is it done responsibly, sustainably and in an environmentally friendly manner? Those are questions the consumer is asking these days. Quite simply, we at Arla believe people have a right to know what’s in their food and how it is produced.”
Arla's sliced cheese business is up more than 200% compared to a year ago.
Arla is a Denmark-based dairy cooperative started in the 1880s. It is owned by 12,500 farmers across Europe and a network of partner farmers in the United States.
“We’ve always had a steadfast business philosophy that has remained true through the myriad consumer eating trends and fads, the rise of food industrialization, seismic shifts in the retail and food industries and the ‘good for you/bad for you’ nutrition ‘wars,’” Mr. Stohrer said. “Simply, Arla’s mission is to produce and provide the best quality dairy products in the world, free from any artificial flavors or preservatives, all while promoting sustainable dairy farming practices and strict animal welfare standards.
“Consumers today are farther away than ever from how and where their food is produced, so there’s an increasing demand for more transparent food practices and simpler foods. And because of how far away society has gotten from the source of our food, there’s a lot of confusion out there today.”
Arla cream cheese purchases are 20% incremental to the overall cream cheese category.
Arla is trying to provide the consumer with useful information to help them make an informed decision when purchasing products. The company has always followed the philosophy of “the simpler, the better.” That is demonstrated in the company’s simple ingredients cream cheese.
“We set out to invigorate a product category historically controlled by a single brand,” Mr. Stohrer said. “Our short ingredient list — the cream, milk, salt and cheese culture — has struck a chord with consumers looking for simple, great-tasting alternatives. In fact, according to retailer data, Arla cream cheese purchases are 20% incremental to the overall cream cheese category, adding fresh new growth to a previously stagnant part of the dairy aisle.”
In the less than two years since Arla-branded products started appearing in supermarket dairy aisles, its sliced cheese business has shown significant growth and consumer adoption, as it is up more than 200% compared to a year ago.
Daisy Brand markets both full-fat and light sour cream made with only cultured cream and milk or cream. Its cottage cheese has one additional ingredient: salt.
Fortunately for the dairy industry, clean label formulations are one of its strengths. For example, Daisy Brand, Dallas, markets both full-fat and light sour cream that is made with only cultured cream and milk or cream. Its cottage cheese has one additional ingredient: salt. Products carry the tagline: “Better Ingredients. That’s the Daisy difference.”
“Dairy consumers generally have an opinion that milk and products made from milk, are clean, simple, pure, fresh from the farm,” said Cindy Sorensen, vice-president-business development, Midwest Dairy Association, St. Paul, Minn.