Milk and other dairy products already rank top-of-mind for many consumers when they make nutritional food choices for themselves and their families. In fact, milk is the number one item sold at supermarkets across the country, and buying dairy products is often the primary reason shoppers visit their local store. Now, a recent consumer study from the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) shows that consumers generally prefer the taste and would change their shopping habits to buy fluid milk with enhanced nutrition, opening new revenue doors for retailers and processors.
While milk is widely known as a good source for certain nutrients, California milk includes more milk solids and meets higher standards for nutrients than current federal standards. In fact, an eight-ounce glass of California milk contains up to 33 percent more calcium, 25 percent more protein and 33 percent more potassium than the same glass of milk produced to meet current federal standards.
But does nutritionally enhanced milk taste better? Would consumers prefer it over current federal standard milk? And would they be willing to pay more for it? The CMAB study shows they will.
To gauge consumer appeal for milk with enhanced nutrition, Decision Analyst, Inc. conducted a national study to compare California milk with enhanced nutrition against local milk produced to federal standards among 900 consumers in six diverse markets –Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Seattle.* Consumers blindly taste-tested both milk samples under identical test circumstances, including milk temperature. During the test, consumers ranked both milks on overall preference, flavor, thickness, color and texture. Each respondent sampled the milk type they normally drink: whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk or non-fat milk. Adults in the sample were also asked to rank the “higher nutrition” concept itself, including intent to purchase, willingness to switch stores to purchase and willingness to pay a premium price for nutritionally enhanced milk.
The study showed that:
- In terms of taste, consumers reported a slight preference for the nutritionally enhanced (California) milk over the federal standard milk overall (44% vs. 42%) with only 14% reporting no preference.
- In the 2% milk grade, the California milk was significantly preferred over the federal standard milk (48% vs. 40%) with 12% citing no preference.
- Mean ratings (scale of 1-10) were slightly higher for the California milk on all ratings: flavor, color, thickness, texture and overall, although both milks ranked similarly.
- The overall concept of milk with enhanced nutrition highly appeals to consumers, with nearly half of respondents giving the concept a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. The concept’s appeal was greater for the lower fat milks and received a more positive response among females.
- Purchase intent for the nutritionally enhanced milk was extremely high, with 78% of consumers indicating they would either “definitely buy” or “probably buy” it if available in their grocery store.
- Many consumers reported they would actually switch stores to find a milk that met an enhanced nutritional profile (average 2.83 mean score on scale of 1-5).
- Given a choice between a milk produced to federal standards and a nutritionally enhanced milk labeled as such at retail, 86% reported they would choose the milk with enhanced nutrition option.
- Adults who rated the concept reported they were willing to pay an average of $1.74 more than what they currently pay for a milk with enhanced nutrition.
“We’re constantly exploring new channels to bring consumers nutritional dairy products, and retailers play an enormous role in the overall process. Considering the average American is getting only 1.81 of the three recommended servings of dairy each day, the idea of putting more nutrition in the milk they consume is very valid,” said Stan G. Andre, chief executive officer of the CMAB. “The consumer study demonstrates not only that consumers in markets across the country generally like milk with enhanced nutrition, but also would be inclined to buy it and change their shopping habits to do so, regardless of price. For retail dairy cases, we see offering milk with enhanced nutrition as a new channel for potential revenue growth, while giving consumers something they want: the option to buy milk with enhanced nutrition. It’s a win-win for retailers and consumers.”
*About the CMAB Study Methodology
In November 2010, Decision Analyst, a leading global marketing research and analytical consulting firm headquartered in Arlington, Texas, conducted the study on behalf of the CMAB. The 900 participating consumers were categorized as adults, teenagers and children, with the study taking place in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Seattle. The study was conducted as a blind sequential taste comparison between California milk that meets higher standards for nutrition and other local brands available in the six markets that meet current federal nutrition standards. All milk grade types were tested, including whole milk, 2% milk, 1% milk and nonfat milk.
1 Average Daily Intake from Dairy from NHANES 2003-2006
About the California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s 1,752 dairy families. With headquarters in South San Francisco and Modesto, the CMAB is one of the largest commodity boards in the United States. The CMAB executes advertising, public relations, research and retail and foodservice promotional programs on behalf of California dairy products, including Real California Milk and Real California Cheese. For more information on California dairy products, visit RealCaliforniaMilk.com.