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Tetra Pak Dairy Index 2015: ​innovate and communicate to revitalise milk

An international consumer study commissioned by Tetra Pak and undertaken earlier this year, highlights the need for dairy companies to revitalise the relevance of milk among consumers of all ages, through the introduction of innovative products and a fresh approach to marketing and communication.

For several years, the food industry has reported rising demand for nutritious but convenient products, fuelled by the new generation of health-conscious consumers leading ever-more active lives. People already regard milk as ‘nutritious’; ‘healthy’; ‘a good source of calcium’; and ‘tasty’, but to maintain its relevance in the modern world, producers need to innovate and develop drinks that reflect changing lifestyles.

Dennis JonssonDennis Jönsson (left), president and CEO of Tetra Pak Group, commented: “The key to energising dairy in all geographies is to make people excited about drinking milk; creating new products and developing communication campaigns to show that it is convenient, pleasurable, a special treat even, and relevant to all.”

The report explores instances where dairy companies have successfully brought new drinks to market, identifying four global product trends:

  • Indulgent yet permissible treats
  • Customised products that make milk easier to digest or provide added health benefits
  • Drinks made for on-the-go consumption or snacking
  • “Pure” milk with organic or “natural” values

In addition, the report reveals how new communication channels can be used to create successful marketing campaigns that raise awareness of the nutritional benefits of milk, whilst forging an emotional connection with people to drive consumption.

Healthy benefits of milk

Healthy benefits are spontaneously associated with milk by 43% of respondents worldwide, spiking to 70% in China where it is seen as particularly nutritious.

“Decades of research show that milk provides energy and nutrition that’s hard to replace,” said Jönsson. “Every year, new scientific studies add to our understanding of the health benefits of this remarkably versatile food.”

The top global reasons for drinking milk are that it is a good source of calcium (90% agree) and that it is nutritious (90%), healthy (90%) and tasty (89%). While the emphasis may vary slightly from country to country, these milk truths are held as strong beliefs around the world.

When asked if they could think of any disadvantages or concerns associated with milk, the majority (61% overall) could think of none at all. For the rest, lactose intolerance – a real problem for some (8% cited it overall), but one that is easily overcome – is the main concern. This is in spite of the fact that 63% were aware of the debates about the goodness of milk for human health.

Some people find it hard to digest milk because their don’t produce enough lactase enzyme, used to digest lactose in milk. Lactose intolerance can develop in children after weaning or can sometimes affect people in later life as their lactase production decreases. Intolerance is extremely rare in babies. Lactose intolerance no longer stops people from drinking milk because there are so many lactose-free products widely available, says Tetra Pak.

A health study undertaken in 2012 in Sudan showed that impaired growth rate was reduced from 11% to 5% after six months of drinking milk. The study also showed improved academic performance. The mean IQ score increased from 92.4 to 111.5.

A recent Tetra Pak Consumer Intelligence study found that more and more consumers are reading the labels when purchasing food and beverages. 63% of them say that they are looking for ingredient information, and 55% of them want to see if they have the nutrients that keep you healthy.

Many consumers are very willing to pay more for foodstuffs with health benefits: almost 40% for foodstuffs that are all natural, over 30% for high in fibre and GMO-free, and more than 25% for each of the other features such as high in protein, vitamin or mineral-fortified, low sugar or sugar free and low or no fat.

South Africa: Consumer Education Programme

John Stromblad“Milk South Africa has been running a consumer education project since 2008,” says John Strömblad (left), MD of Tetra Pak South Africa. “It is a multi-channel health and nutrition campaign to convey the general good of milk and other dairy products. It employs the Department of Health’s food-based dietary guidelines.”

South Africa’s first dietary guidelines were drawn up in 2003 and did not include specific amounts for milk and other dairy products, which were instead covered under the animal protein umbrella.

However, consistent reports of low calcium and low potassium intakes in the population, along with high levels of hypertension and related conditions, led the Department of Health to rethink and in 2012 new national guidelines were published and the population was urged to: “Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day”.

The campaign targets health professionals and consumers in LSM groups 6 to 8, the fastest growing groups in the country. The campaign conveys six key messages: growth, muscle development, skeletal health, weight loss, nutritional content, and fat content.

The consumer-focused material has been extremely well received, winning various local and international awards, and includes a particularly engaging range of TV adverts designed for teenagers with the theme: “Dairy gives you go”.

These are enhanced by digital material and related microsites and have been popular with all age groups for their character-driven narratives showing teenaged prodigies in the worlds of sport, music and fashion whose drive and energy comes from milk.

Tetra Pak Dairy Index 2015: Download the report here