The beverage landscape has changed remarkably in recent decades. In the 1970s, milk competed with three beverages — soft drinks, coffee, and juice.
But today, consumer taste and choice knows no limits, whether it be sparkling juice, fusion drinks, pea protein drinks, cold brew coffee, or drinkable yogurt, the beverage list keeps growing.
Can milk compete with exponential growth of the trendy treats? Kristiana Alexander, director of global innovation partnerships for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the company that manages farmers’ milk marketing efforts in the US, believes milk can indeed defend its shelf space and grow consumer preference. To be successful, however, the dairy industry needs a clear understanding of consumer trends and beverage buying habits to produce drinks that cater to changing tastes and lifestyles.
Speaking at the World Dairy Expo earlier this month in Madison, Wisconsin, Alexander told dairy producers that milk marketers need to understand that a growing number of consumers are focused on living a holistic lifestyle and making food choices that emphasizes the connection of the mind, body and planet.
In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Alexander discusses three areas or “platforms” where DMI is working to spur dairy innovation to connect with this holistic perspective. (Story continues after the interview.)
It all starts with peak performance, says Alexander. She explains that consumers no longer see health as the opposite of illness — food and beverage choices are an endless journey toward health optimization. It’s a space that fits well for dairy products as consumers search for basic and enhanced nutrition, gut and brain health, and energy.
Alexander says a second opportunity for milk is catering to sensorial experiences — as people embrace a more holistic view of wellbeing, they are willing to explore and pay more for new, customized flavours that allow them to indulge their senses. The explosion of floral-flavoured drinks is a good example of this, she notes.
A third category is billed as ‘responsible consumption.’ Here Alexander and DMI believe that as consumers move farther away from primary food production, they crave storytelling to bring them closer to the product. Alexander says consumers want to feel good about buying a product and there is a tremendous opportunity for dairy producers to tell the primary production story from a farm perspective.
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