After being sought out and appreciated during the pandemic’s out of stocks and purchase limits, the gallon of mainstream white fluid milk is once again being referred to as an irrelevant category to the modern-day consumer. Savvy marketers are making it relevant.

Sales of white milk increased 5.9% in the past year, reaching just over $14 billion. The fact is, while milk volume sales have been declining, consumers have not abandoned dairy, according to John Crawford, vice president of client insights for dairy, Circana, Chicago. Value-added dairy milk is growing but it is not offsetting traditional volume declines.

“There are growth pockets in dairy milk with successful claims,” said Crawford. “Milk with protein, no/low sugar or lactose-free claims have all experienced growth the past five years.”

Clover Sonoma, Petaluma, Calif., a third-generation family-owned and operated dairy and Certified B Corporation, is a leader in offering products that speak to what consumers are looking for in a beverage. The company’s most recent innovation is Clover the Rainbow Milk with a Splash of Flavor. Designed for kids and kids at heart, the milk comes in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors and is made with 100% USDA organic 2% lactose-free milk. It is free of any artificial flavors or sweeteners, and is a good source of calcium and protein.

The company uses ingredient technology to assist with keeping added sugars nominal. That starts by including lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose, a disaccharide, into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose, which are sweeter tasting than lactose. That’s enough sweetness for the strawberry and vanilla varieties. Neither have any added sugars. Chocolate has just a touch (2 grams of organic cane sugar) of sweetness.

The Clover the Rainbow brand debuted in 2021, bringing families essential nutrition from high-quality dairy sources and empowering kids of all ages and stages of development to “Power Your Brilliance” with healthy dietary choices and creative flavors.


Managing the message

The fluid milk industry is banking on the marketing of real dairy milk’s nutrition, as compared to the non-dairy alternatives inundating the marketplace. Targeting younger consumers, including Gen Z, with the power of milk protein messaging may be just what the category needs.

DARI LLC, Clinton, Wis., is on board with its rollout of MOO’V Flavored Whole Milk. The ultra-filtered, lactose-free, whole milk beverage comes in cinnamon swirl horchata, strawberry cream and vanilla ice cream varieties. MOO’V is a high-protein, low-sugar beverage designed to deliver optimized nutritional benefits to kids. The formulation relies on natural flavors without the need for additional sugar or added colors. Each 14 oz grab-and-go bottle provides 19 grams of protein and only 7 grams of naturally occurring sugars.

“Knowing there is a growing need for healthy and functional drinks, especially for kids, this is the time for the dairy industry to step in and revolutionize the space with the power of real milk,” said Dan Ellsworth, chief executive officer, DARI.

Moov flavored milk DARI LLC Moo'v real milk dairy flavors strawberry vanilla cinnamon swirlImage: Dari LLC


In addition to solid nutrition, DARI also provides an entertaining experience to kids through creative packaging design. On each bottle, kids learn something unique about where their food comes from and the nutritional value of real milk. They also experience an entertaining surprise from a dancing cow named Morgan, a 3D augmented reality character for smartphones and similar devices.

Shelf-stable beverages made with milk and milk ingredients are growing in popularity due to their versatility and convenience. A big player in this space is Nestlé Health Science, Hoboken, NJ, with Carnation Breakfast Essentials. The brand’s most recent offerings are Girl Scout Cookie flavors: Coconut Caramel and Thin Mints. The brand also rolled out an improved line of its mainstream Carnation Breakfast Essentials products, with 25% less added sugars when compared to the former drinks.

“We understand parents want to provide breakfast and snack options that spark their kids’ tastebuds while serving up protein and essential vitamins and minerals,” said Mohini Joshi, vice president of brand marketing at Nestlé Health Science. “We are committed to providing families products that continue to delight through taste and nutrition.”

Milk protein concentrate is a key ingredient. Each 8-fluid-ounce bottle contains 10 grams of protein, 25% of the Daily Value for calcium and 50% of the Daily Value for vitamin D.

Byrne Dairy, Syracuse, NY, recently invested in aseptic dairy processing technology. The company now offers quart containers of shelf-stable dairy creamer in US Aldi stores, where Byrne has a long-time co-packing relationship with the private-label retailer. Most stores are retailing the containers chilled; however, they may be distributed, merchandised and stored at ambient temperature until opened, at which point refrigeration is required.


Category innovations

DaoHer Beverage, San Mateo, Calif., developed technology to produce shelf-stable canned Boba Milk Tea, which is made with brewed black tea leaves, milk powder and creamer, along with boba balls made from starch and konjac gum, instead of traditional tapioca. Flavors are brown sugar, classic, crème brulee and matcha.

• A number of fluid milk processors manufacture ready-to-drink beverages, selling them as private label, as well as under their own brand. Turkey Hill Dairy, Conestoga, Pa., recently rolled out new iced coffee offerings, including cookies and cream, Dutch chocolate, mint chocolate chip and vanilla.

The a2 Milk Company, Auckland, New Zealand, adds pasture-raised grassfed a2 milk to its fluid lineup. The a2 milk claims to be easier on digestion.

Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Kan., launched Good Culture Probiotic Milk in partnership with the Good Culture brand. The product contains a patented probiotic shown to help support digestion and a healthy immune system.

top whole milk brands 2023 private label Hood Horizon Fairlife Prairie Farms Organic Valley Hiland Borden Kemps Darigold

Source: Circana

|Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co. 

top flavored milk brands private label Fairlife Prairie Farms Borden Hiland Hood Trumoo Promised Land Darigold Shamrock Marburger Anderson Erickson

Source: Circana

| Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co.