There is a distinct trend in healthy milk-based beverages that has grown greatly over the last few years, says Jim Dimataris, director of process relations for the California Milk Advisory Board, located in South San Francisco, Calif.
The biggest challenges, however, are associated with product innovation, Dimataris adds.
“Processors must establish their innovation as frugally as possible to remain profitable in such a competitive environment,” he notes.
According to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, many of today’s milk processors are doing just that, resulting in a category-wide 1.4% jump in dollar sales in the 52-week-period, ending Nov. 28, 2010. Skim, low-fat and non-dairy beverages performed stronger than whole milk.
The kefir/milk substitutes/soymilk segment alone raked in a whopping 11.9% rise in sales thanks in part to some major players who’ve jumped on the better-for-you trail and created some unconventional non-milk-based beverages.
For example, So Delicious coconut milk experienced a 585.7% increase in sales, SymphonyIRI data shows.
“Due to the increasing demand for on-the-go refreshments, we created [a] shelf-stable coconut milk beverage [in] single-serve multi-packs,” says Chris Turek, marketing services manager for Eugene, Ore.-based Turtle Mountain, LLC, the producer of the So Delicious brand.
For its part, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze experienced a 507.2% leap in sales, says SymphonyIRI data. These non-dairy beverages are made from real almonds and provide an excellent source of vitamins D and E.
Meanwhile, the Perfectly Protein line of lattes undertook nearly a 200% climb in sales, according to SymphonyIRI figures. Produced by Bolthouse Farms, these beverages are made with 100% premium Arabica coffee beans, a unique blend of whey and casein protein and are packed with an assortment of vitamins, amino acids, protein and caffeine.
Roller-coaster rideDespite the influx in sales for some milk processors though, others have experienced a roller-coaster ride similar to that of today’s market.
For instance, the milkshake/non-dairy drinks segment garnered a 4% increase in sales, yet 10 of the Top 20 companies toppled in sales, SymphonyIRI data show.
Nestlé Nesquik saw a 47.1% tank in sales, whereas Cacique, General Mills Fiber One and Flav-O-Rich dropped 24.6%, 24.3% and 15%, respectively. Odwalla Super Protein and Lala tied with a 14% decline in sales, says SymphonyIRI.
Brands that increased in sales, according to SymphonyIRI figures, were Yoo Hoo, produced by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, at 32.8%, Dean’s Choco-Riffic! at 12.1%, private label at 8.7% and Rice Dream at 8%.
Likewise, the whole-milk section showed a 4.4% overall drop in sales, with Poinsetta whole milk experiencing a 22.1% slump in sales, according to SymphonyIRI figures. Other noteworthy plunges go to Organic Valley (13.4%), Country Fresh (13%), Borden (10.1%) and Stonyfield Farm (6.7%).
Regardless of the product innovation or on-trend initiatives, many of today’s processors are in position to pave the way toward a brighter – and more prosperous – future. n
Editor’s Note: For more on the various milk and beverage categories, check out the Milk & Beverage report featured in this issue.