- Arla, one of the United Kingdom's biggest milk producers, will be launching a carbonated milk drink in the U.K., Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, according to The Telegraph. If successful in its trial period, the “sparkling fruit and milk" drink will be rolled out across the world.
- This product innovation is part of Arla’s plans to triple its milk-based drink sales by 2020 after losing market share to plant-based alternatives in recent years.
- Carbonated milk drinks are already popular in the Middle East, but have yet to take hold in the U.K. If Arla’s fizzy milk were to succeed in the U.K., it would be a first for milk with bubbles.
There's a first time for everything, and Arla is hoping that it's found the right formula to finally spark a fizzy milk trend. But the odds are stacked against the dairy company's product outside of Asia and the Middle East, where carbonated fruit and milk drinks are common. The U.K. and other Western markets will be tougher nuts to crack.
In 2014, British soft drink producer Britvic tested “Tango Strange Soda” in the U.K. — a combination of fruit juice, milk and carbonated water geared toward children. Consumers weren’t interested and within a year the drink was discontinued.
Powerhouse Coca-Cola even tested out sparkling milk in the U.S. back in 2009. The company's Vio drink was a similar mix of fruit, milk, sugar and bubbles. Sales flopped, and Vio taken off of the market. Coca-Cola took the brand name "Vio" and morphed it into their latest flavored milk products targeted for consumers in India. The drink, which has no bubbles, was never introduced in Europe.
When Arla's carbonated milk hits shelves in the U.K., it could see decent sales from curious consumers who are unfamiliar with the product concept. The challenge will be getting to consumers to accept the drink as a new standard form of dairy, rather than just a novelty product.
Carbonated water is already popular in both the U.K. and the U.S. Sales of the fizzy beverage have soared 29% in the U.S. in the five years ending in 2013, and are still on the rise. Arla’s new beverage will benefit from this trend, since consumers already enjoy bubbles in their drinks and view them as a value add. If their new beverage were heavier on the fizzy water and lighter on the milk, it may appeal to the carbonated water drinker and be considered more palatable.
It’s understandable that Arla is looking for ways to reinvigorate the dairy market. Milk sales in the U.K. and the U.S. have both suffered in recent years as more consumers turn to plant-based milk. If they succeed with fizzy milk, Arla will be heralded by the dairy industry and breathe some life back into a struggling category. If they fail, they can at least take comfort in knowing they’re in good company.