Sunday, February 2, 2003

New from Dr Pepper: flavored milk

By David Koenig
The Associated Press

PLANO, Texas - After a century of selling soda, the makers of Dr Pepper and 7UP are trying a new tack in reaching young adults: milk.

Beginning in March, the company plans to sell milk in flavors such as chocolate caramel and pina colada.

Company officials began developing flavored milk about 18 months ago and tested different recipes in focus groups. They hope to repeat the success of new soda flavors in the staid milk business.

"What we heard from consumers is that the milk category today is pretty boring," said Andrew Springate, director of brand marketing for Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Inc., based in this northern Dallas suburb.

The soda maker began tinkering - with mixed results.

"We tried some flavors like apple cinnamon and things that were way far out, but people tend to gravitate close to chocolate," Springate said.

They settled on five flavors, from berry to chocolate, and named the new drink Raging Cow. It will be marketed to 18- to 24-year-olds at concerts, on college campuses and the Internet. It will be sold in the dairy section of stores and in vending machines, officials said.

The drinks, bottled by Jasper Products of Joplin, Mo., will be sold in 14-ounce plastic containers and carry a suggested retail price of $1.49. Sold cold, the drinks can be stored at room temperature for 180 days, the company said.

The drinks will be introduced in Texas and the Midwest in March, with an expansion to the rest of the country by mid- to late-2004.

The main competition, Springate said, figures to be Hershey's - sold under license by Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. - and Nestle. But industry analysts said the field is growing more crowded because other beverage companies are raiding the dairy section.

"The dairy business is still very much untapped by the major beverage companies, but as big beverage companies seek areas for growth, dairy will be one of those areas," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, an industry trade publication.

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