Organic milk given "cooler image" revamp

Related tags Milk

In an attempt to shake off the British organic farming industry's
drab, old-fashioned image, the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative
(OMSCo) has revamped its organic milk line, launching Altogether
Better - a brand which it says will give organic milk a fresh,
"cooler image", Tom Armitage reports.

The Bristol-based dairy co-operative has changed the packaging shape and appearance of its branded milk product to include an additional handle on the top to allow easier pouring, while a non-drip lid will allow the milk product to be laid flat in the fridge.

OMSCo, which represents around three hundred organic farmers, hopes to imitate the success of Rachel's Organic and Yeo Valley dairy companies, both of which have successfully penetrated the mainstream UK dairy sector in recent years, withstanding cheaper, commodity-based competition.

"To a certain extent milk has lost its premium cachet,"​ Sally Bagenal, OMSCo's chief executive, told​.

"Over the last decade supermarkets have exploited milk's position as the UK's second most frequently purchased item, turning it into a commodity and subsequently using it as a means of driving store traffic,"​ she added.

The dairy co-operative has recently secured a lucrative six-month distribution deal for its Altogether Better brand with Sainsbury's, the UK's leading organic retailer (in value terms), and hopes to line up similar distribution arrangements with other multiple retailers.

Furthermore, its Altogether Milk rollout will be accompanied by a nationwide poster campaign across 200 stores, which will target approximately 600,000 UK consumers.

"Our intention is to restore UK consumers' faith in milk as a healthy, natural and nutritious product. We are trying to raise the profile of dairy products across the board, not just for the organic sector,"​ said Bagenal.

But marketing tactics aside, it appears that the main barrier holding back the UK's organic industry is simply one of cost.

A four-pint (1.89 litre) canister of Altogether Better, for instance, costs £1.64 - 23 and 64 per cent more expensive than supermarkets' own-label organic milk and non-organic milk respectively.

OMSCo, however, argues that British consumers are prepared to fork out more for organic produce because of the scientifically proven health benefits associated with its consumption.

Last month researchers from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne discovered that organically reared cows, which eat high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produced milk which is on average 50 per cent higher in vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), 75 per cent higher in beta carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A) and two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than its non-organic counterpart.

According to industry analysts Euromonitor International​, the UK's organic milk sector notched up £142 million in sales last year and is set to increase by 18.3 per cent to £168 million by 2009.

Related topics Ingredients Fresh Milk

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