Milk beverages are all the rage

March 25, 2003
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Flavored dairy products are riding a sales wave, with aseptic plastic and retort cans providing the packaging.

Raging Cow represents another flavored milk from a soft drink manufacturer, joining Coca-Cola’s Choglit in retail distribution this month. The Dr Pepper/ Seven Up product also is aseptic, just like Dean Foods’ Hershey line.

Aseptically packaged, flavored milks in plastic containers are rolling off filling lines, with the marketing muscle of a major soft-drink bottler and the nation’s largest dairy processor leading the charge.

Dallas-based Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. is introducing Raging Cow this month in Texas and the Midwest, with national rollout projected to be complete late next year. Raging Cow is filled at Jasper Products, a copacker in Joplin, Mo. Jasper’s Tetra Pak LFA-20 linear aseptic filler for high density polyethylene bottles was validated for low acid products by the FDA in December.

Another Dallas-based processor won FDA approval for aseptic filling in PET bottles in January. Dean Foods’ Morningstar dairy in Mt. Crawford, Va., produces Hershey’s single-serve flavored milk on a Stork Food & Dairy Systems line at the plant.

The aseptic products will provide insight to consumer preferences in packaging and milk processing, as well as the relative marketing acumen of soft drink and dairy companies. Coca-Cola began marketing its version of a dairy-based beverage in August. The chocolate-flavored beverage with skim milk is called Nestle Choglit and is sold in 11 oz. aluminum cans. The granddaddy of the category is another retorted product: Yoo-hoo, a product of Snapple Beverage Group. Coincidentally, both Yoo-hoo and Raging Cow brands are produced by divisions of England’s Cadbury Schweppes plc.

“Consumer research helped us identify young adults as the primary audience for Raging Cow, although anyone who likes milk is likely to embrace this product,” said Dr Pepper/Seven Up’ brand marketer Andrew Springate. Accordingly, the soft-drink manufacturer created “outrageous” flavor combinations, including Pina Colada Chaos, Jamocha Frenzy, Berry Mixed Up, Chocolate Caramel Craze and Chocolate Insanity.

Like Raging Cow, the Hershey’s line includes five flavors: chocolate, fat-free chocolate, strawberry, cookies ‘n’ cream and creamy chocolate milkshake. Both products are filled in 14 oz. bottles with suggested retail prices of $1.49, and both are shelf stable for 180 days but sold cold.

Flat sales characterize the U.S. beverage industry, with two category exceptions: bottled water and flavored milk. Last year, flavored milk enjoyed a 5.5 percent increase in supermarket sales, according to Information Resources Inc., continuing sales-growth gains of recent years.

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