When it comes to milk, both flavoring and packaging affect consumption, and novelty especially attracts the kids. Studies have shown that offering more milk flavor options leads to incremental sales, according to Dairy Foods Magazine. Some 85 percent of kids prefer any kind of flavored milk to the white stuff. Chocolate is the leading milk flavor. Chocolate milk provides the same nutrients as regular whole milk with less fat—it’s usually made with lowfat milk, 1 to 2 percent milk fat rather than 4 percent—and contains less sugar than many juices and soft drinks.
When it comes to milk, both flavoring and packaging affect consumption, and novelty especially attracts the kids. Studies have shown that offering more milk flavor options leads to incremental sales, according to Dairy Foods Magazine. Some 85 percent of kids prefer any kind of flavored milk to the white stuff.
Chocolate is the leading milk flavor. Chocolate milk provides the same nutrients as regular whole milk with less fat—it’s usually made with lowfat milk, 1 to 2 percent milk fat rather than 4 percent—and contains less sugar than many juices and most soft drinks. Caffeine per serving is only 2 to 7 mg, about the same as decaf coffee and less than a candy bar.
Milk comes in other varieties as well—strawberry, vanilla and banana are the most common. But creative manufacturers are marketing so-called milk shakes in flavors like orange, mint-chocolate, root beer and cookies ’n’ cream.
Gable-top cartons have been available to foodservice for years. But aseptic boxes need no refrigeration until opened and appeal to kids accustomed to juice boxes. However, the real news in milk packaging is the variously named milk jugs and milk chugs. These hourglass-shaped plastic bottles have wide mouths so they’re easy to chug-a-lug.
McDonald’s doubled its milk sales when it switched from standard cartons to the wide-mouth bottles. Its research showed that boys didn’t like drinking with straws. The fast-food chain sells some 208 million milk jugs annually.
Speaking of straws, one novel technique to add interest to plain milk and other beverages is the flavoring straw.
As kids sip, a flavor—chocolate, strawberry or even branded candies—inside the special straws mixes on the way to the mouth. Dairy Queen featured its variation of the novelty as a kids LTO promotion.
Although soymilk’s sales currently amount to only 1 percent of those of dairy milk, consumption is on the rise, thanks to its perceived health benefits and appeal to the lactose-intolerant. National chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks have already put soymilk on the menu.
Today’s soymilk has a less beany flavor and chalky texture that plagued earlier versions and is packed with protein, isoflavones and a complement of B vitamins. Soymilk is widely touted as helping to reduce risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, although its benefits are not without controversy.
A juice primer
Fruit juices are chock full of vitamins, minerals, natural sugars and antioxidants. Kids like juice and parents are happy to let them order it.
But not all juices are created equal. The term juice is loosely attached to a number of beverages, including those called drink, punch, nectar, cocktail or ade. These often contain very little actual juice and are mostly water, sugars and artificial flavors—ingredients that don’t pack the same nutrient punch as pure juices. Look for the words “100% fruit juice” on the label or accompanying literature.
Juice is available in a number of forms. Chilled fresh juices are extracted and packaged for distribution; they must be refrigerated. Fresh frozen juices are quickly frozen after extraction, without pasteurization. Frozen juice concentrates are made from pasteurized juice from which the water has been extracted before freezing.
Reconstituted juices are made from concentrates and must be labeled as such; refrigerate for storage. Canned or bottled juices don’t need refrigeration until after opening.
Beverages that are labeled “100% fruit juice” may be made from more than one type of fruit. Often apple or pear juices are the base for other flavors, which are added as a “top note” or dominant flavor.
Aiming at kids
Drinks targeted to children accounted for 5 percent of all beverage introductions in the period between 2000 and 2004.
Breakdown by type:
Fruit and fruit flavored 43%
Milk products 21%
Soft drinks 3%
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service
Milk is Grade A: Kids really like the taste
88% say they like chocolate milk
85% say they would order it in a restaurant
77% say they like plain milk
64% say they would order it in a restaurant