The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • USDEC ramps up collaborative gatherings at the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore

    By Paul Rogers and Tom Quaife August 12, 2022

    The U.S. CDE just finished hosting its largest in-person customer event since opening in 2020.     

    CDE10 (2)

    This photo in an ad made it clear the center is open for business.

    With high expectations and ambitious plans, the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence (U.S. CDE) announced its opening in October 2020 in Singapore to serve as a hub for collaborative dairy innovation in Southeast Asia.

    Funded by U.S. dairy farmers through the national dairy checkoff program, the U.S. CDE is a state-of-the-art gathering place for the U.S. dairy community and Southeast Asia’s food and beverage stakeholders.

    Unfortunately, COVID-19 put many of those plans on hold. Singapore had very strict regulations on crowd size and social distancing, which the Center diligently followed. But there still could be virtual programming, such as webinars filmed at the Center, as well as some limited meetings with USDEC members and dairy export customers. Meanwhile, staff utilized the demo kitchen to work on innovative ideas using U.S. dairy products and ingredients.

    Now, with the COVID restrictions eased, the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence is ramping up in-person activities.

    Late last month, 26 food and beverage product development specialists, R&D scientists and senior managers gathered at USDEC’s U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence. A July 13-15, 2.5-day workshop highlighted the innovation potential of U.S. dairy ingredients.

    “Our aim was to introduce the multi-faceted benefits of U.S. dairy ingredients to inspire food and beverage manufacturers in Southeast Asia to expand product lines with U.S. dairy proteins and permeate and meet consumer needs for healthier products,” said Kristi Saitama, USDEC vice president, Global Ingredients Marketing.

    “The smiles, energy and enthusiasm of attendees was positive evidence of the workshop’s success.”

    Leveraging partnerships

    The workshop was not only the largest in-person customer gathering held at the U.S. CDE since its early-pandemic opening but was also the first that brought in attendees from multiple countries throughout Southeast Asia. In addition, it was a perfect example of USDEC leveraging its five-year partnership with Singapore’s Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC).

    Workshop participants represented food and beverage companies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, with two additional attendees from academia and another from a Singapore government enterprise agency. Eight USDEC member companies took part in the workshop as well, many as presenters.

    Innovation front and center

    Over the first two days of the workshop, USDEC Southeast Asia staff and invited speakers gave a series of interactive presentations highlighting the multitude of ways U.S. dairy proteins and permeate could be used to develop a seemingly endless array of everyday foods that align with the dietary habits and preferences of Southeast Asian consumers.

    On Day 1, Pauline Chan, director of Singapore-based Food and Nutrition Specialists, outlined how USDEC helped develop 47 Southeast Asian consumer-friendly foods and beverages to help fill protein intake gaps throughout the day. Martin Teo, USDEC Technical Director–Food Applications, Southeast Asia, took the presentation a step further, showing attendees how to select the best-fit U.S. dairy protein based on the application and desired functionality and exploring commercialization potential.

    On Day 2, Juzar Kagalwala, director, BASES Business Partner, NielsenIQ Singapore, presented the "Evolution of Snacking in SE Asia," highlighting how nutritionally fortified snacks will power growth in the category. Kagalwala’s presentation segued into a joint discussion with Anoo Pothen, director-consumer insights at USDEC’s Southeast Asia office, drawing in key learnings from USDEC custom concept testing on protein-enhanced healthy snacks (for more on that research, see APFI item below).

    Martin Teo at CDE event (500 × 500px) (2)

    USDEC's Martin Teo highlights the infinite possibilities to innovate with U.S. dairy ingredients during the first major in-person customer-facing interactive event at the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence, held in July for food & beverage manufacturers in SE Asia.

    Hands-on workshop

    Teo then presented “better-for-you” savory snack prototypes made with U.S. dairy permeate and protein-enriched snacks featuring U.S. dairy proteins, many of which were developed through USDEC’s partnership with FIRC.

    On Day 3, the workshop went entirely “hands-on.” Held at FIRC’s Mix and Bake Lab, participants were divided into five groups and given base recipes using dairy proteins and permeate. Each group was instructed to create three formulations using the base recipes and additional ingredients in the lab.

    CDE workshop attendees

    Workshop attendees in the FIRC Mix and Bake Lab prepare to start a product development challenge using U.S. dairy protein and permeate.

    Throughout all three days of the workshop, attendees sampled an array of products to gain a personal understanding of U.S. dairy protein and permeate versatility, properties and innovation potential. Local chef Mohammed Imran prepared three protein-enriched dishes on Day 1. Teo offered the audience prototype samples on Day 2. And participants extensively sampled their own creations at FIRC on Day 3.

    CDE2 (554 × 544px) (1)

    The Center features state-of-the-art capabilities in a comfortable setting. 

    USDEC highlighted the ramping-up of activity at the U.S. CDE in a full-page ad on the inside front cover of the July/August issue of the trade publication Asia Pacific Food Industry (APFI).

    “We’ve missed seeing you during the pandemic and are excited to be opening our doors for in-person meetings and events that create the stage to develop winning products that appeal to local consumer needs,” the ad reads.

    The ad features an image of the U.S. CDE demo kitchen and bullet points of programming activities and opportunities to generate interest and inquiries from current and potential U.S. dairy customers.

    E-blast touts consumer research

    USDEC also collaborated with APFI to launch an e-blast highlighting the first in a series of customer-friendly research study summaries outlining useful consumer insights for food and beverage manufacturers.

    The research aims to gain an outside-in perspective on local-friendly new product concepts developed by USDEC’s Southeast Asia office. Regional food and beverage makers can use it to pinpoint best-prospect ideas and areas for improvement as they work to develop successful products and meaningful consumer messaging.

    This initial research, overseen by Anoo Pothen, director-consumer insights at USDEC’s Southeast Asia office, found that products fortified with U.S. dairy proteins hold potential for success in Southeast Asia, particularly when paired with other “healthy” ingredients. It also indicated strong potential for convenience-driven, protein-boosted snacks, including bite-size and on-the-go products.

    USDEC encourages members to download and share the two-page research summary with new and existing customers in Southeast Asia.

    More business outreach to come

    The research e-blast is the latest example of what USDEC expects will be ongoing B:B outreach highlighting the U.S. CDE’s market research capabilities and how the office is working to spotlight U.S. dairy ingredient innovation potential and generate new business for U.S. suppliers.

    "We at the U.S. CDE are excited and can't wait to host many more customers and partners with an unmatched learning experience of all things U.S. dairy, while providing U.S. processors the setting to extend their reach and success into Southeast Asia," says Vikki Nicholson-West, senior vice president of global ingredients marketing at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

    Learn more:

     to the U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog    

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post.  

    Southeast Asia Product Innovation Singapore
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