Could fizzy milk be the new new Coke? Coca-Cola's (NYSE: KO) Venture and Emerging Brands unit is testing just that concept in New York with its new drink, Vio. According to Foodbev.com, the bottled concoction is made of skim milk, cream, fruit, sweetener, and fizz. It comes in four flavors: peach, mango, berry, and citrus colada.
Milk, fruit -- sounds like a drink made with nutrition in mind, right? Sadly, Vio contains as much sugar, 26 grams, as full-strength Coke, along with 1.5 grams of fat. Despite the sugar content, though, the milk content could be the loophole by which Coke could expand its toehold in U.S. schools, where it thrived for decades before public backlash led to a move to banish soft drinks.
The American Beverage Association's School Beverage Guidelines, which Coke and other industry giants have embraced and schools have implemented, ended sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drink sales in elementary, middle, and high schools. The guidelines do however, still permit sales of some milk-based products.
In the U.K., the Department for Education and Skills also changed its school nutrition standards several years ago, calling for the removal of all carbonated soft drinks, fruit juice drinks, sports drinks, and flavored waters. It also allows milk-based drinks with less than 5% added sugar. At 26 grams per 12 ounces, Vio is roughly 5.7% sugar.
The greatest unknown here is whether the fickle youth market will like the taste of Vio. If it doesn't, the question of school sales is moot.