Random Thoughts From a New Father

James Dudlicek
(847) 205-5660 ext. 4009
Just when I thought I knew what it feels like to get kicked in the stomach …
White Wave is trumpeting data showing its half-gallon Silk Chocolate soymilk is now America’s best-selling product in the chocolate milk category, beating out dairy-based standard bearers like Nesquik and Hershey’s to the tune of $13 million in sales for a two-week period this past April.
Now, it’s bad enough that milk has been taking a beating from pop, juice and other beverages. But at least chocolate milk has been able to win its own category.
The fact that White Wave is owned by Dean softens the blow somewhat, since these sales are ultimately going into a dairy company’s coffers. Of course, I know soy offers significant health benefits, and has its place in the American diet. But such an invasion on dairy’s home turf just seems so wrong.
According to White Wave’s press release, consumers are turning to Silk Chocolate for its taste: “With a smooth, creamy texture and a healthy dose of real Dutch-process cocoa — something missing from most chocolate milk brands — many chocolate lovers are finding that Silk Soymilk makes the best-tasting chocolate drink around.”
That sounds like a challenge to me. We all know that taste trumps most if not all other factors when consumers choose food products. So let’s get busy, all you processors of real chocolate milk. Get to work and fix this, so soymilk’s ascension in the chocolate arena is a one-time blip on the radar screen.
Tell Jack those soybeans ain’t magic and to take his cow back home where she belongs.
I noticed something interesting when I stopped to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work recently, here in suburban Chicago. Amid soaring market prices, milk actually was on sale — all gallons, $1.99. Whoa! Then I noticed every gallon in the case was coded for only four days hence. Looks to me like people have been buying less milk since prices took off, leaving this retailer with a stockpile that it needed to move fast.
Any processors seeing more returns of merchandise since the market went crazy? Are consumers swapping their $4 gallons of 2% for 99-cent jugs of pop and using the savings to shore up their gasoline budgets?
Oh, and then there’s this little thing called the Top 100 that we have once again this month. The Big Three are still at the top, but there was some interesting movement down below over the past year.
Funny how something like a new baby in the house can divert your attention from such things. We were in the thick of preparing this annual monster feature when my wife gave birth to our daughter, Mia Rose. Sleep has become a luxury, and I’ve been tempted to hang onto those earplugs they give you on plant visits.
But fatherhood is a true joy, and I’m looking forward to adding a gallon of whole milk to the shopping list. Meanwhile, I must confess — we did use that free sample of soy-based baby formula that came to the house a few weeks ago.
You have my word that won’t happen again.
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