Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market
a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States
America has a milk problem, and Blake Waltrip wants to fix that. Contrary to the staggering amount of milk alternatives—soy, coconut, cashew, pea and hemp milk, to name a few—America’s problem is not that it needs more dairy-free options, but simply more dairy. a2 Milk, whom Waltrip signed on with as American Chief Executive in May 2016, was founded in Australia in 2000, but now wants to introduce America to its milk for the dairy-sensitive.
According to extensive research, conducted by both a2 and outside parties, the A1 casein protein can inflame the digestive system. a2 Milk, however, contains only the A2 type of casein protein, as opposed to a combination of A1 and A2 found in most cow milk. This may allow even the dairy-sensitive to comfortably digest a2 Milk. Coupled with studies suggesting that lactose intolerance may even be overstated, The a2 Milk Company aims to provide the wholesome nutrition of cow’s milk to people that can’t regularly consume it.
But how do you introduce another brand of milk to a country that’s milked out? “We’re focusing on digestion, because it’s the easiest message for the consumers to get,” says Waltrip. Approximately 75 percent of the world’s population has lost the ability to digest lactose after weaning.
That’s part of the reason why Waltrip, a native to consumer packaged goods and innovative health trends, is passionate about the product: it has a simple feedback mechanism for consumers. “There’s almost no consumer products types of brands where I can drink this, and within two hours, if I have a milk sensitivity, I know if it works for me or not,” says Waltrip.
It’s through this lens that a2 Milk will go about marketing its milk, by showcasing a variety of consumer success stories.
“We’re trying to take the stuff that really worked in Australia and apply it here. That’s big consumer health issue public relations efforts…consumer testimonials and videos online and building out a social digital base.
The things that we can do are dramatically better [versus 10 years ago] in terms of targeting and speaking to the right kind of consumer, being able to track people that are actually looking at and seeking out information around milk sensitivities.”
California is the first stop for a2 Milk’s American campaign, who after establishing themselves as popular dairy producers in Australia, migrated to New Zealand, China and the United Kingdom. The company wanted California to act as a testing ground, but they’ll eventually sell coast to coast.
“We went to California because it’s not quite as diverse a retail landscape. It has an openness from a consumer potential to try new things. They tend to be health-seeking.”
a2 conducts a simple DNA hair test to determine what kind of milk a cow produces. Waltrip hopes that, in the future, the process will be adopted by a majority of mainstream farmers.
As for the taste? Indistinguishable from milk with the a1 casein protein—which is why a2 is making considerable strides to fine tune their system of cow-segregation. “We want to establish that standard, so [any milk producer] who comes in the future has to hold up to that, so that consumers know they’re getting a clean product.”
a2 Milk is available in whole, reduced fat, low fat, and fat-free. The a2 Milk Company doesn’t want to be defined as just a milk company, but a producer of wholesome nutrition. The company plans to release chocolate milk, offering lactose-sensitive athletes a complete post-workout nutrition.