The New Kings of Flavoured Milk – Lassi and Coffee
Flavoured milk, for so long a predictable, conventional chiller staple in supermarkets around the globe, has suddenly over the last 12 months seen radical change. The coffee and lassi phenomena have caught many of the conventional dairy brands cold.
Lassi is a hugely popular drink in the Asian subcontinent and was originally the drink of gods and kings, fed to the Maharajas and consumed by millions of South Asian people over the years. Lassi is an everyday treat in the British Asian community and has reached a broader audience through the spread of Indian cuisine and restaurants.
It is a very fast growing segment of flavoured milk, combining fruit and milk in a convenient to go format. There has been concern that the vast majority of Lassi products on sale suffer taste wise from the UHT process, which can be problematic with fruit delivery and also that use of fruit concentrates and stabilisers whilst adding to shelf life, can impede the subtle flavour delivery. European organic dairy giants Andechser champion the fresh local proposition, believing that taste and colour should come from real fruit and spices not colourings and flavours. Across Europe, the huge growth of lassi has proved is that there is a clear opportunity for a brand bringing health benefits of calcium, real fruit content and organic together in a flavoursome and convenient flavoured milk package.
There is also a gold rush going in flavoured coffee drinks where there is a battle between foodservice retail giant Starbucks and Swiss dairy co-op Emmi. Starbucks have entered the market and secured good market shares across Europe with a UHT product which uses its longer shelf life to target convenience stores whereas Emmi focus on delivering a strong, real coffee hit using fresh Swiss milk.
The market for Lassi and coffee has exploded, with coffee now taking 15% of total flavoured milk in the UK, or £14.5 million of the £180 million category. Sales of coffee milk are up 40% year on year. Flavour wise, cappuccino is the top selling flavour but the light variety with its lower level of sugar is gaining grounds.
With both Lassi and coffee milks entering the mainstream across Europe, the flavoured milk market has never seen so much innovation.