>>How is one of last year's top launches faring?

Launched in May 2002 in three fruit flavours, this yogurt drink’s USP was the special Life Top straw attached to every carton.

Developed by Tetra Pak and Swedish company Bio Gaia, the straw releases bacteria when the liquid is sucked through it, turning the drink into a probiotic product.

MD Jonathan Middlemiss said the extra angle was essential for the company, which has been supplying dairy products to retail, airline and foodservice markets for 10 years, to have any effect on the grocery market. “In today’s market, smaller companies do not even get a look in if they fail to be innovative,” he claimed.

The brand’s original distribution in Tesco and Sainsbury has been supplemented by listings in Boots and Welcome Break outlets, and a lower calorie Light version in Mango and Passionfruit, made with Splenda, joined the ranks in June 2003. All the drinks have a six-month shelf life.

Middlemiss described the range as “a spectacular success” and figures from Information Resources show that sales of Orchard Maid reached almost £1m by June 14, 2003 in grocery and impulse outlets.

One buyer expressed doubts as to whether consumers fully understood the straw’s properties, but said the probiotic drinks sector as a whole was booming.

Middlemiss said the company’s next offering would follow the same path by combining the concepts of drinking and snacking.nProduct: Orchard Maid Yogurt Drink

nCompany: Farm Produce Marketing

nLaunch Date: May 2002