In this week’s 96-page The Dairymen supplement, The Grocer offers some important insights to drive value back into the beleaguered, beloved dairy category. And, as well as gaining fascinating access into the visionary thinking of leading suppliers and retailers, we like to think we’ve tried to do our bit to stimulate the debate with two ‘conceptual’ challenges.

The first regards the milk fixture, which must be the most dull and functional in today’s supermarkets. We’ve commissioned Synergis to come up with some thought-provoking designs. Let us know what you think.

The other opportunity intriguing us is milk as a sports energy drink. We’ve watched with awe as this £1.7bn sub-category has accelerated away from the rest of the soft drinks pack these past few years. Stick a bit of sugar, a few flavours, sometimes extra vitamins and minerals, perhaps a drop of taurine, in a little water, put a sports cap on the top, label it with bold designs, and even bolder marketing claims, and what have you got? An incredibly high margin product that is indeed used as a sports recovery drink, but also as a lifestyle ‘fuel’ for the increasingly sedentary, computer gaming generation.


“The compelling properties of milk as a sports energy drink are far less well-known than the industry realises”

Adam Leyland, Editor

Yet the more compelling recovery properties of milk - brought home to me by an excellent BBC documentary on ‘Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods’ earlier this year - are also far less well-known than the industry realises. In the meantime, in stark contrast with sports and energy drinks, it seems to have been completely poleaxed by EFSA’s health and nutrition claims regulation.

So we commissioned design consultancy Dragon Rouge to come up with five concepts for a sports milk drink (see The Dairymen). It seems great minds think alike. Next month the first-ever fresh milk sports drink will launch. Xcel Milk shares one key quality with our concepts: the branding and packaging is ‘performance’ oriented. But instead of plain, fresh, fantastic milk, it’s adding whey, extra vitamins, sugar and flavourings (chocolate, lime, strawberry) in a ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em’ play. Which will work best? Will either?