The world’s No. 3 soft drink manufacturer starts selling flavored milk

After years of selling carbonated soft drinks, No. 3 global soda producer Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. (DPSU), Plano, Tex., decided the time was right to add dairy to its beverage portfolio and this month began rolling out Raging Cow™, a five-flavor line of single-serve milk drinks.

What sets Raging Cow apart from other flavored milks and dairy drinks in today’s marketplace is not just the rowdy mascot that all labels sport, nor the innovative, amusing flavors (Piña Colada Chaos, Jamocha Frenzy, Berry Mixed Up, Chocolate Caramel Craze and Chocolate Insanity), it’s the fact that Raging Cow is the first milk beverage to be bottled on the recently FDA-accepted commercial low-acid aseptic plastic bottle line at Jasper Products, Joplin, Mo. (see Dairy Foods, December 2002).

“Raging Cow is the type of dairy product we envisioned going into the aseptic plastic bottles when we first sought FDA acceptance,” says Jeff Kellar, v.p., plastic packaging systems, Tetra Pak Inc., Vernon Hills, Ill., manufacturers of the high-speed, linear filler aseptic (LFA) system installed at Jasper. “It is an example of how processing and packaging technology can create an incremental opportunity to increase milk sales, especially in non-traditional milk venues such as vending machines.”

Milk is the main ingredient in Raging Cow, with labels sporting the Real Seal. Compositionally, Raging Cow compares similarly to other flavored milks. An 8-oz serving contains 170 calories, 5g fat and 27g carbohydrates. It fares a little lower than other flavored milks in nutrients—an 8-oz serving provides 15% of the Daily Value for calcium and 10% DV for vitamins A and D.

“Raging Cow is a very different way of looking at flavored dairy drinks,” says Mike McGrath, pres. and COO of DPSU. “This product does not have a herd mentality and therefore is unlike any other milk-based product on the market. We describe it as a milk-based drink ‘gone wild’ because there are outrageous, intriguing and delicious flavor combinations. Raging Cow also creates a new opportunity in our portfolio of offerings.”

Raging Cow is sold in multi-layer, 14-oz HDPE plastic containers that are topped off with proprietary flip-top, recloseable caps. Raging Cow can be stored at room temperature for 180 days. These features present DPSU distributors with an incredible opportunity to grow their beverage business and more effectively compete with the two leading global soft drink producers: The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, and PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y.

Because Raging Cow does not require refrigeration, the line can be distributed on the same trucks and go to the same venues as soda. With vending machines, Raging Cow does not require machines that are fully refrigerated, unlike other single-serve flavored milks. This reduces the loss associated with power outages. If a vending machine is turned off and product warms, traditional single-serve flavored milks spoil. Raging Cow is fine.

Getting into dairy

“Consumers were telling us that milk is pretty boring,” says Andrew Springate, dir. of brand marketing. “So about 18 months ago the product development team started working on flavored milk concepts, testing various flavor combinations in focus groups.

“The consumer research we conducted helped us identify young adults as the primary audience for Raging Cow, although anyone who likes milk is likely to embrace this product,” Springate adds.

Sparking up a beverage category with flavors is not new for DPSU, which is the largest division of London-based beverage and confectionery firm Cadbury Schweppes plc, and the largest producer of non-cola soft drinks in North America. Brands include Dr Pepper, 7 UP, A&W Root Beer, Canada Dry, Sunkist, Hawaiian Punch, Squirt and Schweppes, as well as RC Cola and Slush Puppie.

Cadbury Schweppes started getting involved with dairy-based drinks when subsidiary Snapple Beverage Group Inc., White Plains, N.Y., acquired Yoo-Hoo, one of the oldest chocolate dairy drinks in the marketplace, in October 2001. The prior year, Cadbury Schweppes acquired Snapple, which had explored dairy-based drinks back in 1998 when the company rolled out Whipper Snapple. Snapple just rolled out a soy-based smoothie-type meal replacement beverage called Snapple A Day.

Raging Cow has a suggested retail price of $1.49. The initial rollout is in Texas and the Midwest, with national distribution targeted for mid- to late-2004.