Packaged Facts recently release its Dairy Innovation: Culinary Trend Tracking Series. The report focuses primarily on foodservice and restaurant trends in the areas of flavored butter; cheese in new places; dairy alternatives; celebrating dairy richness; inspired ice cream and soft serve; middle eastern influences; feta, labné and yogurt; and new ways for whey.

“Don’t let the familiarity of dairy or the success of plant milks obscure the opportunities in this marketplace, given the culinary heritage, indulgence factor, usage rates, and consumer appeal that makes dairy the cream on top for many different applications, from elevated favorites to imported novelties,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

The very fact of dairy familiarity gives chefs and other food-makers license to thrill with creative new recipes and products that take dairy to new realms, from haute French flavored butters and crème fraiche to Middle Eastern labné to Japanese ice cream treats—because indulgence never goes out of style, despite modulations in how often and how much. Kitchens nationwide are cooking up new and novel dairy innovations, including:

• preserved eggplant poached in ricotta whey and roasted in brown butter
• date and blue cheese ice cream
• halloumi cheese with warm honey and dukkah
• salted cheese with tea and fresh lemon
• coconut soft serve mixed with activated charcoal 
• vegan-friendly cashew cheese

Dairy’s popularity also makes it easy to swap out butter with flavored butter, sour cream with Greek yogurt, one cheese with another, and milk & sugar with condensed milk—Thai or Vietnamese iced coffee being absurdly delicious, lining up with key lime pie and tres leches cake in the international condensed milk inner sanctum. The appetite for frozen dairy treats year round has driven ice cream to new heights, and given rise to foodie, arty soft serve.

Global explorations also favor fermented dairy products such as yogurt and funky cheeses. And through it all, classic cheddar reigns supreme, recommending itself into everything from super-cheffy macaroni casseroles and breakfast biscuits to spicy-trendy pimento cheese.   From breakfast to midnight ice cream snack or warm milk nightcap, dairy has it going on.

Learn more about the report