Between 2001 and 2003, cocoa milk consumption in Denmark rose by slightly more than 35 per cent, reaching 54 million litres in 2003. Indications are that the trend is set to continue as the brand leader, Matilde, recorded an additional 16 per cent rise in the first half of 2004.
According to a report from Danish dairy giant Arla Foods, the boost in trade has been driven by multiple factors. "The growth in consumption is partly driven by promotions for cocoa milk. Retailers support such promotions because special offers on cocoa milk attract shoppers. Another element is that cocoa milk is now consumed on a year round basis, not only during the autumn and spring half-term breaks," said product manager Susanne Klemp.
The strongest seller in the market remains the traditional Matilde cocoa milk sold in 1 litre cartons, although Arla claims that recent products, such as the organic økologisk Matilde, Matilde Café in glass bottles and Arla Mini in plastic bottles, are also doing well.
Health positioning on recent advertising campaigns - regarding the milk's so-called muscle-building properties - have also had an impact on sales.
"The same is the case with half-litre cartons and bottles for convenience shops such as filling stations," reported Arla.
Further evidence that opportunities continue to grow for chocolate milk formulations, and notably with healthy positionings, came earlier this month when UK sweetener supplier Tate and Lyle said a US firm would use its zero calorie sweetener sucralose for a new cocoa milk drink.
Foremost Farms USA said it will launch a new chocolate milk sweetened with Tate's artificial sweetener - Splenda - under the Morning Glory, GG Golden Guernsey Dairy, and Grip It. Sip It. brands.
According to a report in Wisconsin Ag Connection, Joe Weis at Foremost Farms said the move was in response to consumer demand for low calorie, calcium-rich products.
"Chocolate milk is the number one selling flavoured milk so it makes sense to provide a low-fat, no sugar added alternative to address consumer's needs," he said.
Sucralose, 600 times sweeter than sugar and developed jointly by US firm McNeil Specialty Products and Tate & Lyle, claims to have a longer shelf life than its synthetic predecessors, which deteriorate chemically over time.