Dairy: How do you take yours?
Researchers at Teagasc and UCC are analysing dairy consumption patterns in Irish adults and have found that those who consume dairy tend to have healthier dietary behaviours.
We all know the benefits of consuming dairy foods in our diets but not all consumers eat dairy in the same way or for the same reasons. Researchers in Teagasc and UCC are looking at how dairy foods are incorporated into our diets by analysing the National Adult Nutrition Survey, which contains details of the consumption patterns of over 1,500 Irish adults. The researchers found that nearly 99% of the population included dairy products, with milk being the most widely consumed product. On average, Irish adults meet the dietary recommendations for dairy food and are consuming a glass of milk, a portion of cheese and a pot of yogurt most days of the week.
However, when grouped by the type and pattern of dairy foods consumed, the research shows that not all consumers eat dairy in the same way. Some people, generally the sport-orientated men tend to drink more than a pint of full fat milk a day while not consuming most other dairy products such as cheese or yogurt. Younger consumers prefer just cheese, while more women prefer to eat yogurts. Most of those who consumed high amounts of dairy foods were motivated to follow a healthy diet. Nearly a quarter of the population consumed very little dairy products while others only used it in tea and coffee.
According to Dr Sinéad McCarthy, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown: “The consumers who have a balance of all dairy foods also expressed strong motivations to engage in healthy dietary behaviours, whereby fat intakes are within recommended levels, showing that dairy foods plays a key role in a healthy diet”. However, nearly one quarter of Irish adults consume very little dairy products at less than 100g per day, well below the recommended three servings from the milk cheese and yogurt food group. These consumers need to ensure that they consume adequate calcium to maintain bone health and prevent health issues such as osteoporosis later in life.
Having these profiles of dairy consumers can present exciting opportunities for new product development and to target consumers with tailored dairy products to suit their dietary preferences and requirements.