Finnish dairy group Valio began exporting its lactose-free milk drink to Sweden at the beginning of November 2002, and the popularity of the product in the first few weeks has already prompted the company to revise its predictions for full year sales.
Sales have exceeded Valio's expectations during the period, and if sales in Sweden continue at the pace they have set in the first few weeks, the annual sales volume will grow to 300 000 litres, some five times the initial sales goal, according to the company.
The lactose-free milk drink is the first of its kind in Sweden, and Valio said that it had been hard to quantify sales because of this.
The drink is manufactured at the Valio dairy in Kouvola, Finland, delivered directly to clients' central storage facilities, and from there to retail outlets. The product is sold throughout Sweden.
Valio claims to offer the most comprehensive range of low-lactose products in Sweden, including cooking cream and whipping cream, UHT milk, sour cream, Crême Fraiche, cooking yoghurt, curd and cottage cheese. In addition, Valio exports low-lactose yoghurts to Sweden.
Valio has also been successful in the Swedish market for fruit yoghurts, with a 25 per cent share of total market volume.
Sweden is the second market for Valio's lactose-free milk drink after the company's home market of Finland, where it was launched just over a year ago. As with Sweden, sales in Finland exceeded all Valio's expectations, and this year should reach around 12 million litres.
Valio, which claims to be the only company in the world with a patent for completely lactose-free dairy products, said it was planning to expand the range of lactose-free products next year.