Filling The Void
James Dudlicek
(847) 405-4009
jdudlicek@stagnito.com
Pop is out — does that mean milk is in? The food and beverage industry is abuzz over the deal former president Bill Clinton brokered to get soda out of all schools by the end of the decade. Guidelines his foundation hammered out with the big three pop makers and the American Beverage Association recommend banning the sale of all non-diet soft drinks and allowing only lowfat milk, unsweetened juice and water.
“Restrictions on soft drinks and wider availability of milk are positive steps in creating a healthier generation,” lauded IDFA chief Connie Tipton, citing studies showing kids who consume sugary soft drinks are heftier than their milk-guzzling peers.
Between the Clinton deal and school systems that have forced pop out on their own, it must be time for milk processors to move in for the kill, right? Well, something tells me that Coke and Pepsi wouldn’t have been so willing to vacate these vending positions if they didn’t have suitable replacements. Remember Coke making its move on Bravo Foods? How about Pepsi’s Quaker Milk Chillers?
Milk is the top growth segment in vending, according to a MilkPEP study that we reported on in March. The number of milk-specific vendors rose 6 percent, while sales rose 10 percent between 2004 and 2005. Nearly 40 percent of vending operators offer milk, the study says, and another 8 percent plan to add it.
Schools are still an untapped frontier — only about 10 percent of schools have vending machines that offer milk, versus 70 percent for soft drinks.
You many remember the ABA study from late last year that charted beverage sales from 2002 to 2004. Sales of full-calorie carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) dropped 24 percent, while sales of bottled water rose 23 percent, diet CSDs 22 percent, 100 percent juices 15 percent and sports drinks 70 percent.
But milk barely registered. High school students purchased some 13 million ounces of flavored milk in 2004, compared to 9.8 billion ounces of total non-carbonated drinks. Grade school consumption couldn’t have fared much better. Had processors been able to excite youngsters then, maybe they’d still be loyal milk drinkers.
A few processors have seized vending opportunities, while others are successfully beefing up packaging and marketing efforts to generate excitement among school kids. Will they have the flair and the money to chip away at the entrenched pop giants’ grip on school beverage sales?
Too many processors still have that bid mentality. Try to envision the future of milk. Look at the big picture — are you in it?