Waste not the kefir

The Natural Products Expo West in California with its 3,000 exhibitors and 77,000 retail visitors, had something for everyone last week. The range covered everything from microorganisms to the farm as a super-organism, to full-fat dairy and using every bit of the process for products.

One of the exciting trends for dairy was full fat – it’s back. Americans have taken on board the idea that dairy fat is different and are looking for less processed foods, and are enjoying full-fat yogurts and other dairy products as a result.

Another trend was probiotics – it’s all down to drinking your kefir, labneh, or whatever dairy product with added probiotic bacteria works for you. Dairy also has an advantage, being seen as a “natural” delivery vehicle for such microorganisms, versus sprinkling biscuits with probiotics.

Looking farm-side, biodynamics, or the perception of a farm as an organism requiring livestock, crop rotation and certain soil treatment practices, was also evident at the show, according to The New York Times. Proponents believe the ingredients illuminate the type of farming, leading to better flavours, although not everyone is convinced of the lure of “aspirational farming” to the average US consumer.

Another highlight was the continuing issue of waste and lifecycles, with a fair few companies making products out of “waste” material such as the water used for processing chickpeas. Like the continuing trend of using whey for various end products, we are seeing a whole revamp in thinking. Rather than just throwing by-products away or feeding them to animals, manufacturers are seeing the use and sense of making something else with them to feed to humans..

What it does show is that everything comes around again. As in bygone times where the practical householder would ensure they made the most of every purchase, today’s manufacturers and processors are seeing the same benefit in such an outlook.

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