Milk is universally recognized as an inexpensive, readily accessible and easy source of key nutrient groups such as proteins (amino acids), specific minerals most notably calcium, and a range of vitamins. From a global perspective it’s not as commonly drunk as might be imagined, but per capita consumption is rising at the rate of one percent a year and is highest in Europe and Oceania, lowest in Asia and Africa. Growth is strongest in South America, Asia and Africa.
Why drink milk?
One of the best ways to promote special milks is to encourage milk consumption in general and build an understanding of the benefits. Lactose free dairy might then be employed not only to enable lactose intolerants to drink, enjoy and benefit from milk, but also as a tool to make it easier for e.g. the elderly to access the nutrients that milk offers as their diet becomes more restricted. This is a more effective route than setting out to develop different milks for particular age related target groups.
From infancy to elderly
We embark here on a series of articles examining the demographics of milk consumption in childhood, for adults, and the elderly. The product solutions are fairly similar but the promotional parameters differ. Examples are drawn from developing country markets rather than more mature economies where for instance in the US the “Got Milk?” campaign was directed at the problem of declining demand.
Growing up with milk
South-East Asia represents a massive pool of untapped opportunity for dairy companies. Vietnam for instance has successfully encouraged childhood milk consumption to tackle its unenviable position of being home to the region’s on average shortest population. Interestingly there has been a knock-on effect in rising demand from all age groups as knowledge of milk’s health benefits has spread throughout the country.
Good for kids
Milk is nature’s choice for our infants’ first food, starting with breast milk and formula, so the next consideration is what’s best for toddlers. Milk is rich in e.g. calcium, and while good bone health is predicated on a number of factors, calcium is arguably key. Milk also contains and is sometimes fortified with vitamin D, another important contributor to healthy bones in growing children. In essence, the benefits apply to all age groups and dairy delivers other essential nutrients such as protein, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A and B vitamins. Yoghurt contains more protein and sometimes more calcium than milk but is rarely fortified with vitamin D.
Other considerations include fat levels: whole milk helps with nerve and brain development while some toddlers may benefit from a lower fat milk which is also a healthier option as the child grows. At that point, and for adults, too, other dietary, exercise and lifestyle choices also need to be taken into account.
“A dairy company can demonstrate its social responsibility working through governmental bodies, dairy associations and the professional health care.”
Lactose intolerance is a game changer and taste matters
If the child finds it difficult to digest milk and the cause is an inability to tolerate lactose as opposed to milk allergy, Valio Eila® products and technology offer straightforward solutions that taste good, an especially important quality where children are concerned.
Our lactose free milk powders used in e.g. formula offer the same nutrients and composition as ordinary powders, with the lowest lactose content on the market. Milks produced using our unique patented lactose free removal process have the fresh milk taste that so many children and indeed all age groups love, yet contain no lactose.
Technology and responsibility
Licensees benefit from proprietary technology and unparalleled know-how that includes experience of building a positive market base for dairy. So business, well-being and corporate social responsibility can be properly aligned for the good of all stakeholders.
A dairy company can demonstrate its social responsibility working through governmental bodies, dairy associations and the professional health care community e.g. arranging seminars to promote milk consumption. Marketing measures include utilising the print media for advertising plus in-store and on-package opportunities for more targeted promotion.
The big national players
China, now the world’s leading milk importer, has demonstrated that a systemic campaign to encourage milk consumption, in this case as a good source of protein, is both achievable and has proved startlingly successful. Increasing affluence and the emergence of a growing middle class is a key driver in terms of purchasing power. In other BRICS countries, for instance Russia is the world’s second biggest importer and India the leading producer consuming almost 100% of its domestic output.