Milk Link plans to capitalise on the growing popularity of flavoured milk by launching into the convenience and vending markets.

The dairy co-op has signed a licensing agreement with convenience specialist The Clever Little Drinks Company under which the company will produce and market Mini Moo milk drinks.

Mini Moos are currently available in 250ml cartons of strawberry, chocolate and banana flavours and are being marketed as ideal for the vending machine and lunchbox markets.

The Clever Little Drinks Company has so far secured listings with c-stores, local school authorities and vending companies such as Boxlogix, Out of The Box and On the Button Vending. Mini Moo was better suited to the vending market than fresh milkshakes because it had a shelf life of 42 days compared with just over a week for fresh, the company said.

"The collaboration brings together Milk Link's expertise in producing high-quality, natural and nutritious long-life milk and The Clever Little Drinks Co's knowledge of convenience, foodservice and vending," said senior brand manager Heather Coates.

Milk Link's portfolio of flavoured milks also includes the Galaxy and Mars licences as well as supermarket own label. This week's development was part of a long-term strategy to grow the flavoured milk category by drawing in new consumers, added Milk Link marketing director Hamish Renton. Galaxy was targeted at females, Mars at Males, Moo at children and young adults and own-label milks at the whole family, he added.

UK sales of flavoured milk grew 21% in the last year to £54m, with one-litre family packs selling particularly well. The drinks were proving particularly popular among parents looking to give their children healthier alternatives to carbonates, said Renton.

The company was planning a major promotional push for flavoured milks this year, Renton revealed. "We've only scratched the surface of this market's potential so far," he stressed.