A new international study commissioned by Tetra Pak shows that consumers in both developed and developing markets still have an overwhelmingly positive view of milk, despite occasional anti-milk messages.
Healthy benefits are spontaneously associated with milk by 43 per cent of respondents worldwide, spiking to 70 per cent in China where it is seen as particularly nutritious.
‘Decades of research show that milk provides energy and nutrition that’s hard to replace,’ says Dennis Jönsson, president and CEO of Tetra Pak. ‘Every year, new scientific studies add to our understanding of the health benefits of this remarkably versatile food.’
The top global reasons for drinking milk are that it is a good source of calcium (90 per cent agree) and that it is nutritious (90 per cent), healthy (90 per cent) and tasty (89 per cent). While the emphasis may vary slightly from country to country, these milk truths are held as strong beliefs around the world.
When asked if they could think of any disadvantages or concerns associated with milk, the majority (61 per cent overall) could think of none at all. For the rest, lactose intolerance – a real problem for some (8 per cent cited it overall), but one that is easily overcome – is the main concern. This is in spite of the fact that 63 per cent were aware of the debates about the goodness of milk for human health.
Some people find it hard to digest milk because they don’t produce enough lactase enzyme, used to digest lactose in milk. Lactose intolerance can develop in children after weaning or can sometimes affect people in later life as their lactase production decreases. Intolerance is extremely rare in babies. Lactose intolerance no longer stops people from drinking milk because there are so many lactose-free products widely available.
A health study undertaken in 2012 in Sudan showed that impaired growth rate was reduced from 11 per cent to five per cent after six months of drinking milk. The study also showed improved academic performance. The mean IQ score increased from 92.4 to 111.5.
A recent Tetra Pak Consumer Intelligence study found that more and more consumers are reading the labels when purchasing food and beverages. 63 per cent of them say that they are looking for ingredient information, and 55 per cent of them want to see if they have the nutrients that keep you healthy.
Jönsson says, ‘The key to energising dairy in all geographies is to make people excited about drinking milk; creating new products and developing communication campaigns to show that it is convenient, pleasurable, a special treat even, and relevant to all.’
Many consumers are very willing to pay more for foodstuffs with health benefits: almost 40 per cent for foodstuffs that are all natural, over 30 per cent for high in fibre and GMO-free, and more than 25 per cent for each of the other features such as high in protein, vitamin or mineral-fortified, low sugar or sugar free and low or no fat.