Soft-drink giant PepsiCo has entered the milk business. Last week, it debuted Quaker Milk Chillers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The new beverage line up is made with 2 percent reduced-fat milk and is fortified with calcium, protein and seven vitamins. They are sweetened with a blend of natural and no-calorie sweeteners, including sucrose, sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium.

According to a company press release, Quaker Milk Chillers qualify for PepsiCo’s “smart spot” symbol because they contain 45 percent to 50 percent less sugar than leading flavored milks and are an excellent source of calcium.

The flavored milks are available in 14-ounce, single-serve plastic bottles in convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers and school-vending machines. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Because they are produced using aseptic technology, Quaker Milk Chillers have a six-month shelf life.

Pepsi isn’t the first soft-drink maker to dabble with milk-based beverages. In recent years, competing cola giant Coca-Cola released both Choglit and Swerve. Swerve is the company’s only flavored-milk product currently on the market. Its availability is limited to schools.

Cadbury Schweppes, which owns Yoo-hoo, also debuted the short-lived Raging Cow.

Despite these failed ventures into dairy, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coke’s largest bottler, acquired a major stake of Bravo! Foods last month, a deal worth reportedly close to $40 million. Bravo! has successfully entered into licensing agreements with Marvel, Starburst and others to create its Slammers brand of candy-flavored milk drinks.

Pepsi-Cola; Brandweek.com