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now sells Producers Soymilk, a low fat, low sodium, cholesterol-free beverage described as “great for shakes, smoothies baking, cereal or drinking cold or warm.” Available in Original and Vanilla flavors, the calcium- and vitamin enriched product is promoted as “a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.” Such a claim isn’t likely to sit well with Tom Nagle, vice president of marketing for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C. He reports that soymilk has been found to be not nearly as effective in delivering essential nutrients as genuine fluid milk.”In a couple of cases where people raised issues, we jumped on that right away, contacted the news organizations and made sure they were aware of statements by the FDA and the World Health Organization, verifying and reaffirming the safety of milk.” While BSE fears failed to cause consumers to steer clear of the milk category, processors agree that high prices definitely have played a significant role in keeping sales down.According to IRI, sales of soymilk and milk substitutes rose 18.6 percent in dollars and14.4 percent in units during calendar year 2003.While processors express some frustration over this trend, they stress that people who are downing soy beverages may not necessarily be milk drinkers in the first place.”Undoubtedly, it’s affecting consumption of regular milk somewhat, but it’s also bringing new users into the category who just plain weren’t drinking milk before, possibly because of lactose intolerance, mind now they’ve found a way to include a beverage like that in their diet,” says Ron Schroeder, director of marketing, Swiss Valley Farms, Davenport, Iowa.The pricing issue isn’t solely to blame, however, as Kevin Burkum, DMI’s senior vice president for retail marketing, cites another contributing factor, one he calls “competitive pressures.” “When you look at tea and isotonic and bottled water, they are all enjoying solid growth, which doesn’t bode well for milk,” Burkum says.Even flavored milk, long considered the growth engine of the category, fell 0.6 perceti and 4.4percent,respectively. Battling for Share of Stomach As if to pour salt into the wound that is the declining sale of fluid milk, sales of soy beverages are soaring .(IRI) for the52-week period ending May 16, 2004.Dollar sales of whole milk in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart,rose2.1percent,butunitsalesfell3.9percent,whileskim/lowfatmilksalewereup1.4percentindollarsanddown4.4percentin units.

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