By JENNIFER ZEGLER
Dairy drinks are adding new flavors, making new fans in search of a cool treat
Dairy drinks are maturing. No longer just chocolate cartons for the grade school set, new flavor combinations are courting kids and adults alike. For kids, companies are touting the “does a body good” factor with new flavors and sizes. At the same time, adults are grabbing dairy drinks while on the go as healthy, filling substitutes.
Making the grade
The recent focus on childhood obesity has caused new restrictions on what children are eating – at least on school grounds. New vending and school lunch regulations have created an opportunity for flavored dairy drinks to fill the void vacated by carbonated drinks. Innovative flavors and convenient sizes also are attracting kids to dairy drinks while in the lunch line.
“The key thing we make sure of is to have a good product that kids will choose,” says Cathy Dean, marketing manager for Nestle Nesquik ready-to-drink. “For parents and schools it’s important that they want to pick up and choose Nesquik over the variety of options out there.”
Nestle’s Nesquik is the category leader, according to data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, and has introduced new packaging sizes for schools. The California-based company recently debuted 14-ounce aseptic packaging, which is perfect for schools where refrigerator space is hard to come by, Dean explains. Also new is an 8-ounce resealable plastic bottle.
|Top "milkshake" drinks (individual brands)|
|BRAND||DOLLAR SALES||% CHANGE VS.PRIOR YEAR||MARKET SHARE||% CHANGE VS.PRIOR YEAR|
|ODWALLA SUPER PROTEIN||$4,326,328||105.9||6.7||3.6|
|KERN'S AGUAS FRESCAS||$2,787,978||0.6||4.3||0.2|
|Source: Information Resources Inc., Total food, drug and mass merchandise (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending June 18, 2006.|
“The new 8-ounce size is for the a la carte line in schools,” Dean says. “We’ve tested it in schools, and it did so well that it didn’t stay in the a la carte line.”
In addition, the brand unveiled a limited-edition Cookies and Milk milkshake in February. This Nesquik variety will be available for a year until it’s replaced by a new limited-edition variety.
Also keeping schools in mind are the dairy drink lines from New Jersey-based North American Beverage. Its three Chocolate Moose varieties and the strawberry flavored Mega Moose carry approvals from the American Heart Association and American Dairy Association. The company also is looking forward to new additions during the holiday season and next spring, says John Imbesi, president of North American Beverage.
“Chocolate Moose and Strawberry Mega Moose are doing well,” Imbesi reports. “They are fat free, cholesterol free and trans fat free. We are extolling the virtues that dieticians and nutritionists recommend.”
The Slammers brand from Bravo Foods International, North Palm Beach, Fla., has seen great growth during the past year. Already home to ProSlammers and Masterfoods-inspired Starburst, Three Musketeers and Milky Way flavored dairy drinks, the company signed a co-branding agreement with General Mills to launch cereal-themed beverages. The debut offerings of Trix and Cocoa Puffs flavored drinks will launch in time for the back-to-school season this year, with additional varieties to follow.
“We have co-branding agreements with Masterfoods and General Mills that are creating the right products with the right brands at the right time,” says Stan Harris, chief marketing officer for Bravo. “Our distribution deal with Coca-Cola [Enterprises] is helping tremendously. Also, the fact that we bottle aseptically allows for shelf-stable products that are better for shipping. With more people turning to better-for-you beverages, we’re really growing, our only problem now is managing opportunity and that’s a problem we like to have.”
Combining the benefits of dairy with active cultures is ProBugs, a new drinkable kid-friendly kefir from Lifeway Foods, Morton Grove, Ill. The probiotics and active cultures, which the company calls “friendly bugs,” help increase the level of good bacteria in children’s digestive systems. ProBugs’ Sublime Slime Lime and Orange Creamy Crawler varieties come in a 5-ounce no-spill pouch for children ages two to nine.
More grown-up appeal
New flavors – and health benefits – also are attracting adults to dairy drinks. With fortified on-the-go options, dairy drinks offer opportunities for busy adults. From numerous smoothies to indulgent milkshakes, dairy drinks are serving up myriad healthy options for time-starved adults.
Dairy-based LightFull Smoothies from California’s LightFull Foods carry the tagline “helping you juggle without the struggle.” Created by Lara Jackle, chief executive officer, and Lynn Graham, co-founder and vice president of marketing, LightFull Smoothies were designed as a filling snack for busy women. The four flavors of “satiety smoothies” boast 6 grams of fiber and protein in addition to antioxidants, all in 100 calories or less.
“We were both athletes in college,” Jackle explains. “After graduating we had to realign to what was healthy eating because we weren’t training all the time. The smoothies deliver a triumvirate of being satisfying, all natural and low calorie as well as good tasting. It’s not about dieting, it’s about lifestyle.”
Both North American Beverage and Bravo Foods also appeal to adults with new products. North American Beverage introduced new Splenda-sweetened diet dairy drinks, including a Mocha variety. The company also is working on Hispanic-inspired flavors, such as Dulce de Leche for upcoming additions.
“Dulce de Leche was the second most popular specialty ice cream flavor for Haagen Dazs, so we consider it a good option,” Imbesi says.
Bravo Foods recently launched Bravo Blenders, a new line with adult appeal.
“With on-the-go in mind we’re introducing Bravo Blenders that are a dairy-based meal replacement aimed at busy working moms,” Harris says. “When you’re running around making meals, dropping off kids and probably having to get to work yourself, the last thing you have time for is a meal. With Bravo Blenders you can have a healthy meal replacement in adult-friendly flavors such as Chocolate Raspberry or French Vanilla.”
For those eyeing indulgence, Ben & Jerry’s is serving up ready-to-drink MilkShakes in nationwide grocery and convenience stores. The creamy drinks were introduced in the Vermont company’s signature Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavors. The 8-ounce drinks will be distributed through Pepsi.
Consumers are becoming keener to dairy drinks as the products move out of cartons to indulgently flavored drinks in resealable bottles. Whether part of a school lunch or a snack while running errands, children and adults are flocking to dairy drinks, especially when the cool treats deliver great taste and health benefits.