There are fat-reduced versions of all major dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Low-fat and fat-free milk make up a significant portion of the milk consumed, and the majority of yogurt sold in the United States is low-fat or fat-free. Ice cream has followed a similar trend to fluid milk, offering a wide variety of products to meet individual consumer preferences. Companies continue to work to find lower fat options for cheese, but the consumer demand for fat-free cheese is very low, the comments said.
Although the dairy industry has worked for years to lower sodium, added sugars and fat, a number of challenges remain, including food regulations, consumer acceptance and increased costs of reformulated products. For example, the 97 standards of identity that currently exist for dairy products can be obstacles to innovation because the products must adhere strictly to the specified requirements, including ingredients and composition.
In the end, however, consumer acceptance may be the most important hurdle to overcome. “Reformulation will only work if the updated food is attractive to consumers,” the comments said. IDFA recommended small “stealth reductions” over time to allow consumers to adjust to a less sweet or salty taste while they continue to enjoy the product.