TIME TO MAKE A MOOOOVE

CHICAGO -- Milk continues to be the dominant beverage category within the store-brand industry, with 63.7% of milk sales generated by private labels in 2003, according to "Store-Brand Drinks, U.S., October 2003," a new report by Mintel International Group here.Milk tends to be a region-sensitive product, and one that doesn't really boast a major national-brand player."When you go into the supermarket,

CHICAGO -- Milk continues to be the dominant beverage category within the store-brand industry, with 63.7% of milk sales generated by private labels in 2003, according to "Store-Brand Drinks, U.S., October 2003," a new report by Mintel International Group here.

Milk tends to be a region-sensitive product, and one that doesn't really boast a major national-brand player.

"When you go into the supermarket, you don't go looking for a brand of milk; you pick up a type of milk," said Marcia Mongelonsky, senior market analyst at Mintel Consumer Intelligence here.

Yet, upon delving deeper into the category, opportunities for private-label growth pop up in various subsegments that have yet to experience store-brand penetration, like flavored milks. Soy milk, in particular, is noteworthy because it represents the fastest-growing area of the overall milk category, with sales jumping from $179 million in 2001 to $298 million in 2003 in the food, drug and mass channels, excluding Wal-Mart. These figures were compiled by Mintel using data from market research firm Information Resources Inc. here. It is a fast-growing segment indeed, but one without store-brand players.

"Why aren't [retailers] out there doing more? A couple are experimenting with soy milk, but not enough to even get on the board here. The traditional dairy case has become a specialized dairy case, and they are missing all these opportunities," Mongelonsky said.

Retail Sales for Store-Brand Beverages Market

(segmented by beverage type, 2001 and 2003)

Beverage: 2001 $million; %; 2003 (est.) $million; %; Change 2001-2003 %

Milk: 6,812; 64.4; 6,435; 63.7; -5.5

Juice/juice drinks: 1,794; 17; 1,612; 16; -10.1

Carbonated beverages: 1,104; 10.4; 1,097; 10.9; -0.6

Bottled water: 546; 5.2; 632; 6.3; 15.8

Tea/coffee: 323; 3.1; 321; 3.2; -0.6

TOTAL: 10,579; 100; 10,097; 100; -4.6

Wal-Mart data not included.

Source: based on information resources, Inc., InfoScan ® reviews Information/Mintel