Food & Beverage Manufacturing

Main Dishes

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Women in the workforce, busy overall lifestyles and the ever-widening variety of frozen foods fuel global ready meal product market sales. Frozen ready meals include frozen pizza, entrees and snack segments, among other products. The overall frozen food market encompasses the frozen ready meals category as well as fish/seafood, potatoes, fruits, vegetables and frozen soup. The creation and promotion of frozen foods as main dish items requires careful consideration of nutrition content and health statements. Ease of preparation is also key, as time-pressed consumers around the world will testify.  

Food manufacturers can bolster healthy and hectic lifestyle applications for main dishes with integration of U.S. dairy ingredients. Cheeses, whey proteins and permeates can help formulators create products that meet health and lifestyle demands such as more natural, clean labels and promotion of weight management or reduced sodium content. Dairy proteins help curb hunger, preserve lean body mass and promote satiety. Cheese is a delicious way to add nutritional value while providing options to tailor flavor and functionality to specific applications. Whey permeate provides browning and flavor, and reduces sodium levels.  

The U.S. dairy industry provides value-added ingredients to help deliver the flavor, nutrition and functionality that food and beverage manufacturers need to advance product formulations. Dairy ingredients and products from the United States help product developers keep on-trend with innovation in the main dish category. Learn more about U.S. dairy products in the Product Section.

Trends in Main Dishes

Main dishesAs the major focus of the meal, main dish items contain the primary protein. Cheese is a natural addition with the flexibility of a wide variety of flavors that complement favorite meats, baked dishes and pastas to contribute to the overall taste profile. Cheese also supplies additional protein to satiate diners. Vegetarian entrée formulations also benefit, as cheeses provide taste, texture, nutritional punch, protein and visual appeal. 

While consumers continue to seek out main dish products that meet health and wellness needs, hectic lifestyles require main dishes with built-in preparation convenience. Meanwhile, trends point to opportunities for packaged goods as restaurants drive upscale nostalgia.   


Consumers might not know what they want for a nutritious dinner, but they want it to be simple to make and tasty. As a result, meal kits designed for quick and easy preparation are found in grocery store aisles around the world. These main dish items often feature U.S. dairy ingredients and products such as cheese and butter to provide the flavor, texture and nutrition consumers look for.  

Restaurants Drive Upscale Nostalgia

The nostalgia food trend kicked off in restaurants around the globe as a well-documented backlash against hectic lifestyles. Restaurants and main dish marketers alike seek to help consumers recapture the comfort foods of childhood with traditional and gourmet flair.  

Upscale restaurants use intensely-flavored artisan products to present gourmet grilled cheese sandwich applications-brie with prosciutto, blue cheese with grilled peaches-that translate to flavor combinations now found in prepared meals. The use of high-quality dairy ingredients like specialty cheeses in items like gourmet macaroni and cheese allow consumers to dine on premium versions of nostalgia foods at home, and with minimal effort.  


U.S. dairy ingredients provide flavor, function and nutrition. The below chart illustrates the benefits six common dairy ingredients offer.

 Cheese (Details)Milkfat(Details)Milk Protein Conc.(Details)Nonfat Dry Milk Powder(Details)Whey Permeate(Details)Whey Protein(Details)
Adhesion           yes
Appearance           yes
Browning       yes yes  
Creaminess           yes
Ethnic Appeal yes          
Flavor yes yes yes   yes  
Processing Aid           yes
Protein Fortification            
Sodium Reduction         yes  
Texture yes   yes yes   yes
Water Binding     yes     yes
  Cheese Details Butter & Milkfat Details Milk Protein Details Milk Powder Details Permeate Details Whey Details

Formulas & Recipes

Access U.S. Dairy Export Council prototype formulations for inspiration on developing main dishes and prepared meals to be consumed during breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between.

Parbaked Pizza Crust

Parbaked Pizza Crust

Perfect for busy kitchens that take pride in serving delicious pizza on a flavorful crust. Ready to sauce and top with your preferred toppings for a hearty pizza treat.


Reduced-sodium Protein Udon Soup

Reduced-sodium Protein Udon Soup

Easy-to-prepare comfort food gets upgraded with this fresh take on a popular dish.


Protein-packed Samosas

Protein-packed Samosas

East meets West in a savory hybrid of a samosa and empanada