Coke Is Wanting to Turn 'Premium' Milk Into a Billion-Dollar Business

Coke Is Wanting to Turn 'Premium' Milk Into a Billion-Dollar Business
Image credit: Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Containers of Coca-Cola's new Fairlife milk are seen on a store shelf on February 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

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This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine

Coca-Cola  is betting that it can make America love milk again.

The beverage company has teamed up with dairy cooperative Fairlife to distribute an “ultra-filtered” milk product that has 50% more protein and half as much sugar as regular milk. After rolling it out slightly over a year ago, Fairlife sales have reportedly hit around $90 million, and specialty milk sales across the industry jumped more than 20 percent, as Coke aims to turn the beverage into a billion-dollar brand, according to Bloomberg.

The encouraging sales come despite plenty of criticism for the processed milk. Stephen Colbert has called the product “extra expensive science milk” that seemed as if “they got Frankenstein to lactate.”

Coke’s partnership bucks a decades-long consumption trend away from milk. In 1945, Americans consumed an average of 42 gallons each year; in 2015, per capita consumption had dwindled to 19 gallons, according to Bloomberg.

The designer milk, which Coca-Cola partly owns within its Venturing and Emerging Brands group, costs about $4 for a 52-ounce bottle—about double the price of conventional milk. At an investors conference in November 2014, Coca-Cola North America president Sandy Douglas compared the venture to Coca-Cola’s ownership of Simply, the premium juice, billion-dollar brand. “Like Simply, when you do it well, it rains money,” Douglas said, according to the Dairy Reporter.

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