WhiteWave launches banana milk drink, amid tanking dairy milk sales

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Sir Bananas blends organic 2% milk with bananas and is sweetened with cane sugar
Sir Bananas blends organic 2% milk with bananas and is sweetened with cane sugar

Related tags Milk

North American dairy milk sales dropped 7.8% to $13.6bn in 2015 compared to 2014, according to data from Euromonitor International, but WhiteWave Foods launched Sir Bananas to attempt to resurrect the dormant milk market.

Sir Bananas is an organic 2% milk beverage blended with bananas and available in regular and chocolate varieties, found in the refrigerated section. 

The banana milk beverage is distinct from other flavored milks in that it uses real bananas in the form of puree, with other natural ingredients like cane sugar and sea salt for added flavor, that the company says create a smooth and thick consistency.

Sir Bananas was an idea that came out of WhiteWave’s innovation group that is tasked with studying international consumer trends to develop new product ideas.

“The idea really came from what they were seeing consumers doing at home, with making their own banana milk,”​ WhiteWave brand manager Lauren Tankersley told DairyReporter.

Browsing recipes and trends on Pinterest was another source of inspiration behind Sir Bananas, according to Tankersley.

All-family appeal

Sir Bananas cartons are adorned with an illustrated bow-tie wearing monkey, a clear brand message marketed towards children.  

While the target consumer audience are children, and mothers who are buying products for their young ones, the appeal does not stop there, according to Tankersley.

“We found through a lot of our research and talking to consumers, that this is something that comes into the house, maybe originally thought to be for kids, but then it has broad family appeal and broad usage across occasions.”

Test-market phase

Sir Bananas is currently testing the waters in four states - Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and the company’s home state of Colorado - through product demos in stores including Walmart and Meijer. The product can be found near other flavored milks in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.

“We’re doing a range of tactics to understand how it’s best to communicate and drive awareness to consumers. So we’re doing some media, primarily on social media as one of the focuses and a lot of in-store activity with demos to drive awareness at point of purchase to let consumers know that there is something totally new and different in the dairy case,” ​Tankersley said.

“I think within that refrigerated space, we’re a very unique and differentiated product. And what moms and consumers are really gravitating towards is the fact that it really is a combination of milk and bananas versus just a flavored milk,”​ she added.

Positive feedback

While the market results from the testing phase are still preliminary, Tankersley says the company is encouraged by the consumer response.

“Deliciously smooth, snackably good,” is the product tagline, which Tankersley says has resonated with consumers because it emphasizes the versatility of the milk beverage.

“It’s so good that it’s not just something that you drink with dinner or put on your cereal. It’s used as a snack, after dinner, it’s used in recipes, on your cereal, it’s across the board,”​ Tankersley said.

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1 comment

Sounds fantastic

Posted by Peter Bourke,

Real Bananas in milk and available from the supermarket sounds very appealing.

Fruit and milk go so well together.

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