Milk drinking among American teenagers has increased for the first time in six years, according to a new report by National Family Opinion's Share of Intake Panel. While soft drinks remain the leading beverage among teenagers aged 13-17, new research shows that US teenagers are drinking more milk, while soft drink consumption is going down.
The report, based on research on 12,000 individuals, attributes the rise in milk drinking to flavoured milks, now packaged in single-serve containers and available in 'teen-friendly locations', such as vending machines and convenience stores. Marketing efforts - including teen idols wearing milk mustaches - have also helped make milk cool among this status-conscious crowd.
"Teens are our most critical focus because we lose almost half of all milk drinkers between the ages of 12 and 24," said Kurt Graetzer, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program, creators of the got milk?/Milk Mustache campaign. "We know that milk is continually outspent by competing beverages, but we're beginning to break through with the teenage audience."
The report noted that annual per capita milk consumption among US teenagers in 2001 reached 22 gallons, a 3 per cent increase from 2000. Milk consumption by this age group has until now been on the decline for the last two decades. Among current teen milk drinkers, milk consumption rose 6 per cent. With this rise in per capita teen milk consumption, milk's share of the teen market has experienced an increase, from 23.4 per cent in 2000 to 25.1 per cent in 2001.
"Teenagers are the prime market for every beverage marketer, and the milk industry has been fighting back and in fact winning the fight because teen milk consumption is up," said Stan Kostman, president and COO of Beverage Marketing. "The increase is primarily due to the new flavoured milks that come in a variety of sizes and packages. These flavoured milks are also available in places where you find teens, which is critical to effectively influence this tough market."
More than 100 new milk products have been introduced in the last year, according to data from Beverage Marketing. Flavoured milk in single-serve containers has driven much of total milk category growth.
Flavours have expanded to include chocolate malt, cookies and cream, and caramel as well as some targeting adults, such as mocha cappuccino, amaretto and Irish cream. Most come in options like fat-free, low-fat, reduced fat and even 'milkshake-like' styles. These flavours contain the same amount of calcium and other nutrients found in white milk, including vitamin D and phosphorus. Each serving also is a good source of protein.
Research has also backed the role flavoured milks can have in a healthy diet. Studies have shown that while drinking flavoured milk helps to increase calcium consumption, it does not necessarily increase overall added sugar or fat intake.