Dairy, Soy Shine in Healthier Beverages
Better tasting milk and soy drinks are gaining more fans
The ready to drink (RTD) dairy and soy beverage segment has had a year of up-and-down growth. Refrigerated yogurt drinks enjoyed a near 20 percent increase in sales, tallying a value of $397 million, while sales of RTD milk and milk substitutes slipped 2.2 percent to $103.7 million, according to Information Resources Inc.
By far, the biggest challenge soy drink manufacturers are working to overcome is the “beany taste” perception that prevents mainstream customers from even trying a soy-based beverage. White Wave, Boulder, Colo., launched a soy beverage specially formulated to “attract the 27 percent of customers who are “likely to buy” soy beverages.
Silk Live! is a grab-and-go drinkable cultured soy and fruit smoothie. Named one of the best new products by Beverage Industry, Silk Live! is packed with 19 essential nutrients including calcium, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, vitamins A, B, C, D and E and comes with an impressive protein punch.
In addition to containing 7 grams of organic soy protein per serving, the beverage is formulated with four probiotic cultures that aid in digestion, and contains 280 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per 10-ounce serving. Available in Strawberry, Peach, Raspberry and Mango, each serving of Silk Live! contains 35 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium and is 100 percent dairy free.
Pacific Soy Blenders, available in Plain and Vanilla, are designed to be added to coffee or tea, instead of milk or cream, or blended with steam to make espresso or chocolate drinks. Both products are made with organic soybeans and are casein- and gluten-free.
“Our packaging allows for dry storage until opened and is less expensive to handle than refrigerated brands,” says Patrick Gabrish, foodservice director of Pacific Foods. “The Soy Blenders are great for restaurants and coffeehouses because they don’t curdle and can withstand the high heat and acidity of coffee better than major national brands. The 8-ounce single-serving soymilks are perfect for schools, cafeterias and restaurants with increasing demand for non-dairy alternatives.”
Dairy delights
Milk is undeniably healthy and nutritious, but one of the biggest arguments against milk consumption — especially from kids — is its taste. This past year has seen great strides in the flavor profiles of RTD milk beverages, especially from companies not usually associated with dairy.
PepsiCo broadened its non-carbonated beverage portfolio last month with the addition of Quaker Milk Chillers, a line of flavored milk beverages. Made with 2 percent reduced-fat milk and fortified with calcium and seven essential vitamins, the Chillers are available in Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla flavors.
“Many people want the health benefits of milk but they don’t like the taste of plain milk,” says Chad Dick, director of marketing innovation, Pepsi-Cola North America. “Quaker Milk Chillers enable them to get many of milk’s nutrients in the form of a great-tasting beverage without all of the calories and sugar found in most flavored milks.”
Quaker Milk Chillers are sweetened with a blend of calorie sweeteners, including sucrose, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. The company says they have a similar nutritional profile to plain 2 percent reduced-fat milk and qualify for PepsiCo’s “Smart Spot” symbol because they contain 45-50 percent less sugar than the leading flavored milks and are an “excellent source of calcium.”
In addition, because they are produced using leading-edge aseptic technology, the Chillers’ 14-ounce single-serve plastic bottles have a six-month shelf life, which is significantly longer than most flavored and plain milk products (which can range from two weeks to three months).
Coca-Cola bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises, Atlanta, also flexed its milk muscle with the recent announcement that it is pursuing a deal that will enable the soda giant to acquire approximately 10 percent of the authorized common stock of Bravo! Foods International, North Palm Beach, Fla., a brand development and marketing company that manufactures, promotes and distributes vitamin-fortified flavored milks, under the Slammers Ultimate Smoothie brand name.
Bravo’s most recent Slammers incarnations are Starburst, Milky Way and Three Musketeer  brand flavored smoothies. The latter two products faithfully replicate the time-honored candy bars in a drinkable, vitamin fortified format, while the Starburst Slammer line comprises four fruit and cream flavors: Strawberry, Orange, Peach and Mixed Berry.
Shifting gears from candy to organic, earlier this year, Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., introduced its fat-free Light Smoothie, which achieves sugar and calorie reduction using erythritol, an all-natural, zero-glycemic-index sweetener found in fruits such as grapes and melon. The Light Smoothie, available in Wild Berry, Strawberry and Peach flavors, contains 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, and each 10-ounce smoothie contains 9 grams of protein and 130 calories.
Made with organic nonfat milk, 70 percent of the ingredients used to make Light Smoothies are certified organic, and the products are also free of starches, gelatins, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. Just like Stonyfield’s other yogurt products, Light Smoothies contain six live active cultures which boost the body’s immune systems, as well as inulin, a natural dietary fiber that boosts calcium absorption.
The Light Smoothie line debuted on the heels of Stonyfield’s organic Juice Smoothie for kids, made with organic nonfat milk and organic juice in Surfin’ Strawberry and Orange Wave flavors. BI