Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flavored Milk Trends: It’s the golden age of beverage innovation. It’s time to premiumize milk.

This is a golden age of beverage innovation in America, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. This is thanks to a desire for more healthful products with cleaner labels; the emergence of new ingredients, production processes and technologies; and the coming of age of millennials as the dominant consumer demographic, a group that is adventurous when it comes to trying new things.

After decades of being a rather staid business dominated by only a few major, national brands that were slow to innovate, this confluence of modern trends has unplugged the innovation pipeline for the beverage industry. This includes fluid milk processors, especially those with a strong local consumer base.

“Ideas are flowing like perhaps they haven’t in decades, if not a century. Indeed, until recently the beverage industry had remained untouched by radical transformation. That is not the case any longer,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts. “Innovation is touching every aspect of the beverage industry today, and there is a lot more on the horizon.”
Visit SensoryEffects at IFT, booth #2050.

Now’s the time to get creative with milk, in terms of both flavor and package.

Retail sales data from IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association, for the first quarter of 2017, show that flavored milk sales were up 3.5%. Whole-fat milk sales were also up (3.3%), as was lactose free (12%). These three formulations continue to be bright spots in the fluid milk category, as are more niche value-added segments, including refuel milk (up 21.9%).

Source: IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

What the data from the first quarter also showed was that the retail decline for overall fluid milk was a bit more pronounced than we have seen in the past two years, with sales down 3.3%. Volume leader, white gallon milk, is driving overall fluid milk declines.

Other IRI data show that the volume of flavored milk sold through retail grew 15.8% between 2014 and 2016 and growth is continuing in to 2017. Flavored milk currently accounts for 10.5% of milk through all channels and 5.6% at retail. Four in 10 households purchase flavored milk during the course of a year. Flavor innovations and value-added formulations may entice more households to give flavored milk a try.

Source: IRI provided to Dairy Management Inc., and courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Association

It’s important to note the life stage that is indexing as high volume users. It’s households with families, both young families and those raising teens. In fact, usage of flavored milk by households with 12 to 17 year olds is 77% higher than the national norm. This data suggests there’s a huge opportunity to formulate for such households. 

Now, don’t assume that it’s just the kids drinking the milk. It’s very likely that product is being purchased because of the kids at home, yet, the entire household is enjoying the product. Varied flavors, package sizes and package types appeal different households. Do some research about your target demographic and get busy.

Here’s a great example. Shaken Udder was born in 2003, serving thousands of fresh milkshakes (flavored milk) to festival goers across the U.K. As the fan base grew, customers started to demand their milkshake fix year-round, so founders Howie and Jodie took a look at retail shelves. They were thoroughly disappointed with what they found, marvelous milk was being ruined by ingredients artificial ingredients. The pair decided milk deserved better and set about creating Britain’s best milkshake.

The company’s new breed of milkshakes first hit shelves of Harvey Nichols in 2008 and are now sold in major retailers plus thousands of individual outlets. The milkshakes are all gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. They are made with British milk and premium ingredients.

Chocolush contains two types of Belgian chocolate. Vanillalicious uses real vanilla beans. Top Banana contains 5% real banana puree. Salted Caramel combines the sweet brown taste of caramel with Maldon Sea salt.

The company recently collaborated with Rodda’s Creamery to welcome a new flavor: Strawberries & Rodda’s Clotted Cream. Like the other milk shakes, it starts with a base of semi-skimmed British milk, to which real strawberries and Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream is added.

This innovation placed the company as a finalist in the World Dairy Innovation Awards 2017.

The winners and finalists in the World Dairy Innovation Awards 2017 were announced on June 7th at a gala dinner at the Global Dairy Congress in Dublin, Ireland. The judging panel, which included myself, considered entries from more than 20 countries in 19 categories.

A full list of this year’s winners and finalists in all 19 categories can be viewed HERE.

In the U.S., Rosa Brothers is introducing single-serve flavored milk. All of the dairy’s milk products come from sustainably raised Holstein cows on the company’s family farm. They are packaged in environmentally friendly and better-taste-transferring glass bottles, according to the company. Unlike the quart and half-gallon bottles, which require a return deposit at point of purchase, the new 12-ounce glass bottles are intended to be disposed of in a recycle bin. The new single-serve bottles come in four whole milk varieties. They are: banana, chocolate, strawberry and white.

The Farmer’s Cow is on board with premium flavored milks with its new seasonal, limited-edition approach. Earlier this year, the New England dairy introduced Maple Milk. This flavor literally “taps” into the seasonal flavor of maple sugaring. Rich, sweet Vermont maple syrup is carefully blended with fresh whole milk. Each 32-ounce bottle contains approximately one-quarter cup of real maple syrup, no artificial flavor and no high fructose corn syrup or added sugar other than the maple syrup. More recently the dairy rolled out its second seasonal flavor: Raspberry White Chocolate Milk. This unique milk blends the flavors of the rich sweetness of white chocolate and natural raspberry with fresh whole milk. It, too, comes in a similar 32-ounce collectible glass bottle designed to stand out in the dairy case.
                                                                                                                Shatto Milk Company in the Kansas City area does a fabulous job with its flavored milk program. In addition to banana, chocolate and strawberry, the local dairy offers fun flavors like cookies n’ cream, cotton candy and root beer. They’ve had limited-edition offerings such as apple pie and chocolate cherry. The flavored whole-fat milks come in glass bottles, and in three sizes: pint, quart and half gallon.                                                              There are many local dairies around the country, in fact, around the world, doing great things with flavored milk. It’s a golden opportunity. Get on board!
Visit SensoryEffects at IFT, booth #2050.

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