Take Note

January 10, 2006
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European dairy marketers recognize the opportunity to strengthen brands with existing customers and bring back former milk consumers by offering value-added milk beverages. For example, Germany's Nordmilch eG is rolling out Milram Vitality Milk + Fruit, which is a balanced combination of milk and fruit juice. Enriched with a touch of whey, Vitality Milk + Fruit is described as a light and fresh-tasting wholesome drink that comes in four flavors: Apple, Pink Grapefruit, Orange-Mango and Multi-vitamins.

The company is also growing its foodservice presence with a unique quick-service concept called the "milk & more" milk bar. "We want to create a healthy, refreshing and tasty alternative to conventional fast-food offerings in quick-service restaurant chains," says Martin Mischel, chief marketing and sales officer. The milk bars feature special, uniquely developed taps, where the four basic products-milk, buttermilk, whey and yogurt-are freshly dispensed. Customers can also purchase a range of milk-based drinks and dishes-all freshly prepared and refined with fruits or vegetables.

The selection ranges from sweet and spicy milkshakes to yogurt drinks to specialty coffee-milk beverages. "This is more than is expected from a milk bar," says Mischel. Indeed, the chocolate drinks promise something special. Hot milk is either mixed with a portion of melted chocolate, or pure hot chocolate is sweetened with a generous portion of cream.

Europeans like their chocolate, which is very different from American chocolate. This transfers to chocolate beverages in which the quality of the cocoa is significantly higher than many chocolate beverages you will find in the United States.

Switzerland's Emmi recently introduced ready-todrink Choco Latte Choco + Milk, which is made with 15% Swiss chocolate and milk. The single-serve beverage comes in two flavors: original and hazelnuts, with the latter containing roasted and caramelized hazelnuts. The company says it uses only cocoa beans from the world's best-growing areas and a secret recipe of a leading "Maître Chocolatier" to make its exquisite chocolate. Calling this chocolate drink a lifestyle product, Emmi says not only does chocolate make for happy moments but that research shows it's good for your health and complexion.

Emmi uses a similar philosophy with its Caffé Latte Espresso + Milk, which is described as "the first freshroasted espresso coffee drink."

The popularity of ready-to-drink coffee-milk beverages is booming across Europe. Elsdorfer Feinkost AG of Germany markets a line of singleserve coffee-milk beverages. Something to take note of with Elsdorfer is that the company uses the same package for its fresh, refrigerated dairybased salad dressings made with either yogurt or buttermilk.

Indeed, many European dairy processors have grown their offerings by taking milk beyond the beverage category. For example, it is very common to see cheese sauces and dessert creams in aseptic cartons.

Back to coffee, Germany's Privatmolkerei Naarmann KG i n t r o d u c e d "Milk for Fine Milk Froth." The protein levels in this aseptically packaged milk have been adjusted so that when it is used in a coffeehouse to make beverages such as cappuccino or lattes, stable milk froth is produced. In fact, the company guarantees a long-lasting, very fine froth every time.

On the decadent side of things, Austria's Gerhard Höllinger offers Mozart Shakes, which are premium, shelf-stable, single-serve bottles of either Cherry Chocolate or Classic Nougat milkshakes. The indulgent drinks commemorate the 250th anniversary of musical genius Wolfgang Mozart's birth in Salzburg, Austria.

Müller U.K., has grown beyond traditional milk flavorings with offerings such as pistachio-flavored milk.

For individuals concerned about lactose, Germany's Omira BodenseeMilch GmbH manufactures an entire line of dairy products under the Minus L Laktosefrei brand.

Also prevalent overseas are wellness milk products. Spain's Corporación Alimentaria Peñasanta markets a milk-juice beverage containing conjugated linoleic acid. The company claims this fatty acid reduces body fat by inhibiting the formation of fatty tissue in the body and converting existing fat into energy. The company has also debuted a milk drink with aloe vera, which it says contributes to a younger, more healthful complexion.

Finally, Luxembourg's Luxlait Association Agricole debuted Wellness 4 milk drinks. These milk beverages contain whey and other functional ingredients without any added sugar. There are three formulations designed to cater to the body's needs throughout the day. Wildberryflavored "Vitality" is enriched with ginko, ginseng, green tea and guarana and is marketed as a beverage to help you reenergize. Orange-lemoncarrot "Vitamin" contains vitamins A, C and E and is said to help boost the immune system. The apple-lychee-flavored "Beauty" formula contains aloe vera and is touted by the company as helping to regenerate cellular action to keep the body looking and feeling youthful.

For these processors, innovation knows no limits. U.S. processors-take note-there are a lot of untapped opportunities awaiting you.

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