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Coke makes first direct investment in US dairy brands

By Ben Bouckley , 05-Dec-2012
Last updated on 06-Dec-2012 at 12:57 GMT2012-12-06T12:57:25Z

The Coca-Cola Company is partnering with US-based Select Milk Producers to invest in the Core Power high protein milk shake brand and create a complementary value-added nutritional dairy portfolio.

The investment announced yesterday – for an undisclosed sum – in Core Power parent Fair Oaks Farms Brands, is being led by Coke’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) group, an entity that identifies high-potential growth brands in the North American beverage space.

Coke’s involvement with Core Power is not new, since the company partnered with brand owner Fair Oak Farm Brands earlier this year to add the shakes to its distribution network – following a strategic then national launch model – in a move many believed presaged an investment in the firm.

That partnership was significant, as is yesterday’s announcement, because the moves mark Coke’s first steps to directly strike out territory in the US dairy sector, beyond juice, waters and sodas.

Exciting growth category

In June, Deryck van Rensburg, VEB president, identified dairy-based sports recovery beverages as an “exciting category…in the early stages of growth potential”.

Coca-Cola Refreshments assumed distribution responsibilities for lactose- and gluten-free brand Core Power, which is available in 20g and 26g protein versions, and is aseptically packaged (for distribution in a shelf stable environment) in 11.5oz (340ml) recyclable PET.

In a joint release, both Coca-Cola and Select Milk Producers (an independent group of 87 American family farmers) said that the investment validated the potential that both parties say in offering higher quality value-added health and wellness drinks.

“Our leadership in technology, innovation and sustainability within the dairy industry, combined with the Coca-Cola Company’s brand development and distribution capabilities will enable a new portfolio of nutritional beverages with strong growth potential,” said Mike McCloskey, Select CEO.

Core Power gets ‘great start’

Discussing the initial launch of Core Power, Steve Jones, CEO of Fair Oaks Farms Brands, said: “Our initial launch of Core Power is off to a great start and this new partnership [with Coke] will help us realize our vision of becoming a leading health and wellness company and the most trusted brand leader in dairy nutrition.”

Anders Porter, director of communications for Core Power brandowner, Fair Oak Farms, told BeverageDaily.com in late June that Core Power’s success – from online only product in 2009 to a brand sold in 500 outlets as of June – was due to its taste.

“When people find out that our balanced protein is the same ratio of whey and casein protein that is naturally found in milk, that we never use powders in our product, that it is made from a very simply ingredients list, they are driven to incorporate the product into their workout routines,” Porter said.