Known for wanting it all, baby boomers are the largest users of nutrient-packed beverages, which provide more bang for the buck.

Known for wanting it all, baby boomers are the largest users of nutrient-packed beverages, which provide more bang for the buck. Typically sold in single-serving containers, these drinks act as meal replacements for time-pressed boomers who want to provide their bodies with all the good-for-you nutrients they need.

According to a nationwide survey of more than 1,500 women age 25 to 55 by Yoplait® Nouriche®, which is manufactured by General Mills, Minneapolis, many (32%) said they often skip meals. Two-thirds said they dash out the door in the morning without stopping to eat breakfast. This information is promising to the future success of Nouriche, a single-serve refrigerated nonfat yogurt smoothie packed with 20 vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and protein (from the addition of whey proteins). The data also presents an opportunity for dairy manufacturers to formulate similar nutritional beverages using milk and dairy-derived ingredients, both of which have a bright future in the nutritional beverage category.

Many canned single-serve nutritional beverages already use milk as a base. These drinks have been well received by the baby boomer audience. A new opportunity exists to package such non-refrigerated milk-based beverages in plastic bottles thanks to FDA's recent acceptance of aseptic processing and filling systems for low-acid beverages packaged in plastic bottles and sold at ambient temperature.

The first manufacturer to take advantage of this technological breakthrough is Deerfield, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories. The company has "kicked the can," and now sells its Ensure® nutritional beverage in 8-oz reclosable plastic bottles. This change was in response to consumer demand for greater ease and portability.

"Through extensive consumer research, we found our users wanted, and needed, a more convenient nutrition option to fuel their active lifestyles," says Mark Gorman, v.p., medical nutritionals.

A new concept in nutritional beverages was recently rolled out through a collaborative effort by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and Mac Farms Co., Burlington, Mass., using research funded by Dairy Management Inc. Called RPM, which stands for refreshing power milk, the name also provides nostalgia to baby boomers as they recall their record-playing days. This nutritious carbonated milk beverage is designed for grown-up tastes.

"Milk beverages that focus on children have a different nutritional, fat, sweetness and flavor profile. RPM is targeted to an older category," says Cornell professor Joseph Hotchkiss. RPM comes in flavors such as vanilla cappuccino, Brazilian chocolate and chocolate raspberry. The drink provides 40% of the Daily Value for calcium, 10% DV magnesium and 15% DV potassium. It is lactose-free, fat-free, low in calories and contains the same nutrition found in skim milk.

"Women have become increasingly aware of their specific nutritional and health needs," says Mary Ann Clark, v.p. technical services, Mac Farms. "Women want products specifically formulated to address their particular needs."

Hotchkiss adds, "Putting carbonation into milk is done for technical reasons, such as extending shelflife. Carbonation extends the refrigerated shelflife by up to eight weeks, but people like carbonation in their beverages because it is refreshing, the mouthfeel is improved and flavors are enhanced."

Another beverage providing nostalgia to boomers thanks to the product's spokesperson-Dick Clark, the former American Bandstand great-is NuVim™, a unique refrigerated dietary supplement. This juice-milk beverage contains two patented dairy-derived micronutrients: LactoMune™, which is said to help build the total immune system by maintaining normal intestinal balance, and LactoActin™, which promotes muscle flexibility and supports sturdy joints.