Milk could give soda a serious run for its money if it becomes available in more school vending machines nationwide.

According to a recent survey on milk vending machine use, students in five major U.S. markets said they would choose milk over other beverages if it was available when, where and how they want it. That, in turn, translates into a potential milk consumption increase of 16.3 million gallons if additional vending machines were installed in schools across the country.

The five-month study, conducted earlier this year by the National "got milk?" Milk Mustache Campaign, asked middle and high school students in Boston, Mass.; Miami, Fla.; Omaha, Neb.; Austin, Texas; and southern California about their milk consumption habits.

The results indicate kids will eagerly buy milk from vending machines in schools. In fact, 68 percent of the students said they bought vended milk because, among other reasons, it gave them something else to drink besides soda.

Here are some findings of the study:

  • Flavored milk in vending machines outsells white milk nearly nine to one.
  • Although flavors varied by market, chocolate milk sales garnered 60 percent of milk vending machine sales. Strawberry-flavored milk came in second with 25 percent of sales.
  • Weekly milk sales averaged 280 units per machine.
  • Repeat purchases are high - less than 2 percent of students surveyed reported using milk vending machines only once.
  • School population was the major driver of how quickly vended milk sold.
  • Spoilage was not a significant issue or expense for distributors.

"The question for milk processors at the end of the study is not 'Do I do it?' but 'How do I do it?" says Tom Nagle, vice president of marketing for the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (MilkPEP). "By offering these excellent new milk products to kids at school, we see that many of them will choose milk over soft drinks and juice drinks."

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