Hot and spicy flavors are bringing innovation to dairy products, with ice cream, yogurt and flavored milk increasingly offering an exotic combination of sweet and heat, according to Food Business News.
The creamy texture of milkfat and the sweetness from lactose make dairy foods "an ideal delivery vehicle" for spicy flavors and can help reduce the heat sensation coming from the capsaicin in most peppers, the site reported.
"Spicy yogurts are common in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, while hot cheeses are popular in Central and South America. These traditional dishes often influence young chefs and consumers to look beyond yogurt and cheese, explaining why we are starting to see spice show up in ice cream and milk drinks," Jill Puckett, a market development specialist for Kalsec, told Food Business News.
Growing consumer interest in hot and spicy foods is bringing heat to dairy departments, and we can expect more spicy additions to ice cream, yogurt and flavored milk in the future as the category expands further.
Millennials are particularly fond of foods and beverages with a spicy kick, and some baby boomers appreciate a bit more heat to perk up their fading taste buds. A Mintel study found that 80% of millennials are interested in more spices from peppers and chilies in their food.
Overall consumer interest in more exotic flavors from other countries is another factor pushing the trend. According to Statista, retail sales of ethnic foods were forecast to jump from $10.9 million in 2013 to an estimated $12.5 million this past year. Future Market Insights projects that spicy dairy products will see a compound annual growth rate of 6.2% between 2016 and 2026.
Hot Scream, from Connecticut-based Escape Brands, has experienced success with its lineup of spicy ice cream. Chobani has introduced low-fat yogurt in Sriracha-mango and chipotle-pineapple flavors. Candy has also seen some spicy additions. Mars recently came out with a Spicy Snickers bar in China using Sichuan peppercorn, which is a popular spice in that country.
McCormick has also benefited from this growing interest in new and spicy flavors. Its 2017 purchase of Reckitt Benckiser's food division for $4.2 billion added French's mustard and Frank's RedHot brands to the flavoring powerhouse's portfolio. Consumers may see some dairy innovations featuring those products if the sweet-and-heat trend continues.
One issue manufacturers need to be careful about, the business journal noted, is making sure their dairy products are well-blended with added spices. Otherwise, there could be unexpected hot spots to surprise the unwary consumer. However, it's possible some more adventurous consumers might find the experience of eating certain products — spicy ice cream is a good example — much more interesting as a result.