I recently attended the International Dairy Show in Chicago in the hopes of expanding my knowledge of the dairy segment and meeting some of the experts in the field. The greatest benefit of being at a dairy show, is the opportunity to get a taste of a variety of delightful ice creams – spicy cinnamon chocolate, walnut- raspberry, tiramisu, to name a few as well as a seemingly endless variety of cheeses and dairy beverages.
My favorite by far was the spicy cinnamon chocolate ice cream providing at first an intense spicy flavor followed by an explosion of sweet chocolatey taste with a delicious lingering cinnamon zing. This combined with smooth & creamy texture offered a multi-level exhilarating tasting experience.
What struck me most was the complexity, and wide array of components needed to provide this experience for just one product. The industry has certainly changed from the simple vanilla and chocolate flavor options from my childhood to creation of these bold flavors that include such disparate ingredients.
A majority of the exhibitors at the dairy show were such “ingredient” companies that supply nuts, frozen fruits and veggies, chocolates, cookies, cake, emulsifiers, flavoring etc. to the dairy industry. It opened my eyes to the fact that food supply chain is incredibly complex, global and intertwined which has pushed the Dairy industry out of a “box in” segment alone.
Food safety was on everyone’s mind due the recent high profile recalls while the sourcing and supply of these different ingredients pose new potential risks. There is enhanced scrutiny of certificate of analysis (CoA) associated with a product & increased awareness of pathogen monitoring programs leading to greater investment in pathogen control plans by both the suppliers and manufacturers. At the end, these measure will protect brand value, safeguard consumer safety and meet the expectations of increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumer.
I am looking forward to my next show and “tasting.” I summarized some of the key points I learned in the following infographic.
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