A few weeks ago Bravo! Foods began shipping a new 8-oz. configuration of its popular lines of flavored milk including Slammers and 3 Musketeers. The snowman-shaped bottles are destined for school vending machines, and distribution will be handled by Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE). In July 2005, CCE became a stakeholder in Bravo and its master distributor. The new school vending program will utilize the type of vending machines that have typically been used for 12-oz cans. My understanding is that the soft drink vending has in recent years moved to a newer machine that vends larger sized drinks in plastic bottles. These older can machines had been mothballed until CCE could find a use for them or decide how to disown them.
Call it serendipity, shout "Eureka!," picture a little light bulb turning on over someone's head, and watch milk vending blast off to another level! You can get all the details in the DMI Tools for Innovation supplement in this month's issue. What I find most interesting about this story is the players. Bravo is a unique company founded on the idea that milk can be sold in new places to more people if it is marketed in new and different ways. Bravo has been on this mission since 1997.
CCE is the somewhat autonomous distribution division of the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, a company which has built the most valuable food brand in the world in part by making sure that its products are ubiquitous.
It's been five years since the results of the MilkPEP milk vending report showed dairy processors that milk vending is a viable way to sell more milk. There have been a number of success stories from regional dairies like Upstate Farms, Buffalo, N.Y., and Smith Dairy Products, Orrville, Ohio. The two top national brands of flavored milk, NesQuik and Hershey's have also found their way into some vending machines from coast to coast, but there still seems to be a good deal of untapped potential.
Putting Bravo's shelf stable flavored milk into schools via CCE, using Coke machines, sounds a bit like a football team with a great running game, a deep passing threat, a stingy defense and solid special teams. The Bravo effort could take milk vending to the Super Bowl in that you have the supply chain savvy of CCE paired with the product development and marketing expertise of Bravo Foods.
The beauty of it is that there are two parities with different expertise working together.
Milk vending is not the only place where such partnerships can succeed, of course. AtDairy Foodswe hear about team efforts from dairy companies and sports franchises. We hear about partnerships between dairies and other food companies and we've even written about award winning cheeses made through the teamwork of tiny artisan cheesemakers and large cooperatives.
Just last month we shared with our readers a story about a new line of products rolled out in France through the partnership of Stonyfield Farm and Group Danone.
We've also written about Stonyfield and HP Hood partnering to produce and sell organic milk. Organic Valley Family of Farms also works in partnership with local processors-among them, Southwest Dairy in Tyler, Texas-to bottle and market locally-produced organic milk.
These partnerships allow both companies to do more together than either one could separately. If you see the opportunity to form a partnership, give it some serious consideration. It could be the best way for your company to get the ball across the goal line.
Our November issue is all about "new". The main feature presents what we consider to be the best new products of the year. The theme that ties them all together this year is added nutrition. The new products company of the year is Lifeway Foods, a risk taker that always has a great story to tell.
We also have articles on new equipment, new packaging and new chocolate and cocoa ingredients. Happy reading!