fairlife ultra-filtered milk sales surged 79% in 2016; Core Power and Yup! to be brought under fairlife brand umbrella

Fairlife LLC is a partnership between Select Milk Producers and Coca-Cola, which distributes the product.

Dollar sales of Coca-Cola-backed high-protein milk fairlife grew 79% in 2016, as consumers continued to trade up in the fluid milk category.

Made via a filtration process that separates milk into water, fat, protein, vitamins & minerals, and lactose (milk sugar) and then recombines them in different proportions to produce lactose-free milk with 50% more protein, 30% more calcium and 50% less sugar than regular milk, fairlife was rolled out nationally in December 2014.

Today, it’s in an estimated 76,000 outlets nationwide, VP of communications Anders Porter told FoodNavigator-USA: “We are very happy with the way consumers have responded to the fairlife portfolio of products [which includes fairlife milk, Core Power and YUP!] over the past couple of years.

“Looking at fairlife ultra-filtered milk specifically, 2016 was great year for us. Dollar sales increased 79% last year [Nielsen all measured channels], which drove the lion’s share of growth in the value-added dairy category, and we are having a great 2017 as well.

“New packaging started hitting the shelves in April and we’re delighted with the reaction that people have had to it. We saw an opportunity to strengthen our shelf impact and drive overall awareness and trial, and the re-design seems to be successful in accomplishing that.”

Reinventing the dairy case

Asked how retailers were thinking about the liquid milk category, he said: “Retailers have experienced the decline of fluid milk sales just as the entire dairy industry has. For many years now, it’s been a section of great concern for them. But thanks to innovation across the value added dairy space, things are beginning to change.

"We’ve had great successes over the past couple years in our partnerships with retailers to ‘reinvent’ the dairy door, to change the experience for the consumer so that it better suits their needs and their lifestyles.

“This means highlighting the value added space differently so that it stands out more, making sure product benefits are front and center and encouraging consumers to try products they’ve not experienced before.”

The new fairlife visual identity system will gradually unite all existing brands – and other SKUs in the pipeline – under one roof, says VP of marketing, Brad Gruen:

We’re building a masterbrand. We fundamentally believe that our core tenets – better taste, better nutrition, better values – give fairlife significant elasticity that allows us to innovate across many different categories.”


 The fairlife masterbrand

While fairlife is “very happy with the continued growth of Core Power and YUP!” he said, “We believe we will see more successes with these products as we work to tie the two brands into the fairlife masterbrand more in the future.”

Asked what this meant in practice, he said: “Those two brands both launched before fairlife ultra filtered milk did, so even though they are from the same group of farmers, start with the same high quality milk, and are cold-filtered to concentrate the goodness of the milk, they have kind of lived outside the umbrella of the fairlife brand.

“Because we’re noticing a strong halo effect from the fairlife products and the fairlife name (as people dive deeper and find out Core Power and YUP! are in the fairlife family), it makes sense to make sure that it’s clear we’re all part of the same family.”

Real milk with more protein and calcium and less sugar

While the marketing strategy for fairlife has evolved (an early ad campaign featuring naked ‘50s-style pin-up girls doused in milk was dubbed ‘sexist’ by some commentators and was subsequently replaced by ads focusing on the origins story behind the milk and its nutritional benefits), the core message has remained the same, said Porter: milk, only better.

As people started demanding a wider range of nutrition and refreshment, the rest of the beverage industry innovated and delivered. Milk, despite its wholesomeness and nutritional value, did not… But now we are and fairlife is leading that charge.

“Since fairlife is real milk with more protein and calcium and less sugar than ordinary milk, the offering resonates extremely well with people.”

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