New Beverages ‘Do It With Dairy’

With an increased focus on healthy beverages, dairy and soy have become the new “it” beverages, and not just with kids. This year’s value-added dairy/soy drinks, such as flavored milks, soy and yogurt smoothies, and juice and dairy blends have targeted kids and adults, alike.
During the past year, sales of refrigerated “milkshakes” such as Hershey’s milks and Nesquik were up more than 46 percent in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago. Sales of dairy substitutes were up more than 24 percent during the same period. And product introductions at last month’s National Association of Convenience Stores show indicate many new dairy drinks are jumping out of the dairy case, and aiming for the single-serve “refreshment” beverage segment.
Dairy on a diet
In addition to dairy’s inherent healthfulness, the industry this year has played up research that indicates milk can be helpful for weight loss. The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the group behind the Milk Mustache campaign, has called this year’s “24/24 Milk Your Diet. Lose Weight” campaign one of its most powerful programs ever. The campaign claims the calcium and protein provided by drinking 24 ounces of milk a day helps people lose more weight than they would lose by simply reducing caloric intake.
“The weight-loss message is really resonating with consumers, and many people are seeing milk as part of a solution to the obesity crises in America,” said International Dairy Foods Association Vice President of Marketing Tom Nagle about the initiative. TV talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw and actress Kelly Preston donned milk mustaches to promote the message, and next year MilkPEP plans to team up with ABC’s “The View,” the NBA, and Curves Fitness Centers to promote health and weight-loss messages.
It’s no surprise, then, that many of this year’s new dairy products have had a light leaning. Dean Foods, through its Morningstar division, rolled out Hershey’s No Sugar Added Chocolate Milk to its single-serve line, offering 50 percent fewer calories than 2 percent offerings, and 40 percent less sugar and 68 percent less fat than the milkshake products.
HP Hood went the low-carb route with the introduction of Carb Countdown Dairy Beverages and Lowfat Yogurt Smoothies. With the blessing of Atkins Nutritionals, the drinks are the only dairy drinks to carry the Atkins Approved symbol. The milk drinks contain 3 to 4 grams of net carbs per serving — 75 percent fewer carbs than whole milk — and 30 to 50 percent more protein than regular milk. The company says the yogurt drinks contain 90 percent less sugar than other smoothies and 40 percent more protein.
Hood plans to add Mocha and Vanilla flavors to the milk-drink line in 2005, and after an initial introduction in multi-serve, both the milk drinks and yogurt smoothies are now available in single-serve bottles.
North American Beverage, Ocean City, N.J., also went low-carb with the introduction of Havana Low-Carb Diet Mocha and Diet Vanilla ready-to-drink coffees. Sweetened with Splenda, the dairy-based beverages have 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and as always, are 99 percent fat free.
Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., added to its own line of yogurt smoothies with new Light Smoothies, which have half the calories of regular smoothies and 3 grams of fiber per bottle. Unlike most of the reduced-calorie dairy drinks, the product contains erythritol, which is considered a natural sweetener, and the company says it is the first light smoothie available in the natural food category.
Stonyfield cites big growth potential for light smoothies, saying they represent more than 30 percent of the adult smoothie category.
IRI’s data also indicates high growth in yogurt smoothies. It reports sales of Dannon Light ‘N Fit smoothie increased more than 150 percent during the past year. Yoplait Nouriche was up 13.6 percent, and on the kid’s side, Dannon Danimals drinkable yogurt increased 6 percent.  
Organic competitor Horizon Organic Dairy, Boulder, Colo., rolled out single-serve organic smoothies this year in Wild Berry Blast, Strawberry Banana Splash and Tropical Fruit Punch flavors. Like Stonyfield Farm’s offerings, Horizon’s smoothies contain fiber to increase calcium absorption, and they have 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Kid stuff
It’s not just dairies that are cashing in on the milk trend. PepsiCo has developed a flavored milk that could make it into stores next year. Quaker Milk Chillers are made from 52 percent low-fat milk and will be available in traditional Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors. Similar to The Coca-Cola Co.’s Swerve milk drink, the company tested the product in school vending machines in five markets this year.
“It’s keeping with our plan to offer “better for you” choices,” company spokesman Dave DeCecco told The Dallas Morning News.
Dean Foods also has targeted kids with new Land O Lakes 80 ’N Sunny, a blend of low-fat milk and fruit juice. With 80 calories per serving, 80 ’N Sunny has as much calcium as an 8-ounce glass of milk and as much vitamin C as an 8-ounce glass of orange juice.
“Our research told us kids love the refreshing taste,” says Dave Haley, director of marketing at Dean Foods. “And besides tasting great, our product helps address two critical issues with today’s kids: obesity and a shortage of calcium.”
The product, which is available in Strawberry Banana, Blue Raspberry, Orange Creme and Fruit Punch flavors, is in limited initial release in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Minute Maid introduced its own fruit and dairy blend with Minute Maid Smoothies. More on the juice side than the dairy side, the products nonetheless contain skim milk and have 10 percent of the RDI for calcium and 25 percent of the RDI for vitamin D.
Brain Twist, a new beverage group led by former Coca-Cola executive and founder of Planet Java, Larry Trachtenbroit, debuted a new dairy-based kids drink called Liquid Cereal at the National Association of Convenience Stores show in Las Vegas. Containing real cereal and fat-free milk, the product is positioned as a breakfast beverage. It’s available in Fruit (think Fruit Loops), Apple & Cinnamon, Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavors.
The company also teamed with the Cinnabon retail chain to develop a line of licensed dairy-based coffee drinks. Available in Cinnabon Cinnamon Vanilla Latte, Cinnabon Caramel Nut Latte and Espresso & Cream flavors, the products are packaged in 8-ounce slim cans.
For older kids and adults, The Schroeder Co., Maplewood, Minn., this year introduced a caffeinated milk drink called Hyper Cow. The milkshake-style product is available in Chocolate, Mocha, Cappuccino and Strawberry flavors, and is made from 2 percent milk.
Soy good
Dean Foods has been busy on the soy front as well as dairy beverages. This summer, it introduced Silk Alive, a soy drink with live cultures. Made from organic soymilk, the product contains fiber, 20 vitamins and minerals, six live, active cultures and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s available in Peach, Raspberry, Strawberry and Tropical flavors.
Also offering live, active cultures is the reintroduced DanActive, formerly Dannon Actimel. Like the previous product, DanActive contains “10 times more cultures than yogurt and has been clinically proven to help naturally strengthen your body’s defense system.” It’s available in Vanilla, Orange and Original flavors. BI