Chocolate Dairy Beverage, Where’s The Follow-up (WTF)??

Beatrice 1L Chocolate Dairy Beverage

More than a year has passed since I originally posted about Chocolate Milk Beverage.  Since then it’s become one of the most popular posts on this blog!  I appreciate all of the comments!

As you can see to your right, they’re not even calling it milk anymore.  This begs the new question:  What is Chocolate Dairy Beverage?

First, let’s see what Metro and Beatrice had to say…

Response from Metro

True to their word, Metro got back to me within two days.  Kudos!

Dear [redacted],

Thank you for your e-mail.

I know there have been some changes to labeling regulations as to what a product is called and what has to be included in the ingredients.

I suggest you contact Parmalat directly at their website “parmalat.ca” or call 1-800-263-2858 for more information.

Kindest regards,

Judy [redacted]
Customer Care Specialist
Metro Ontario Inc.
1-877-763-7374

I appreciate Metro’s timely and personal response.  Judy actually read my e-mail and wrote a reply in her own words that was useful and appropriate, given Metro’s position as the retailer.

Based on Judy’s response, my initial assumption is that Health Canada’s website wasn’t quite up-to-date last November.  More on that in a bit, but first, lets see what Parmalat had to say.

Response from Parmalat (Beatrice)

Unlike Metro, it took Parmalat three months to formulate this canned reply.  Not only that, but the central section of the e-mail was in a different font from the header and footer – I have indicated this section in bold.  Content is king but the formatting is simply another indicator of how little effort they put into this response.

Dear [Redacted],

This is to acknowledge receipt of your recent e-mail to Parmalat Canada.

Thank you for your recent enquiry on our Chocolate Milk Beverage product.  Parmalat and Beatrice have been providing Canadian families with the wholesome benefits and great taste of milk for generations.   Proudly made with milk from Canadian dairy farms, our products are great tasting and nutritious.

Chocolate Milk and Chocolate Milk Beverages are both standard dairy products under the Milk Act. The primary ingredient in both products is milk.

Chocolate Milk Beverage is a good nutritional choice as it is:
Low in Fat
Excellent Source of Calcium
Excellent Source of Vitamin D
A Source of Vitamin A

Beatrice and Parmalat also offer a variety of other value added Chocolate Milk Products, such as Smart Growth 2% Chocolate milk with DHA, and Omega-3 1% Chocolate milk as other options for consumers who are looking for chocolate milk products with additional functional ingredients.

We appreciate your input and will provide your comments to our product development team for consideration in future developments.

Thank you for your loyalty and for taking the time to write to us.

Sincerely,

Consumer Relations,
Parmalat Canada
1-800-563-1515

Beatrice Specialty Products

Snapshot: Chocolate Dairy Beverage, conspicuously absent

Wow, thanks Parmalat.  This sounds more like advertising copy than an e-mail response. I asked several pointed questions; your lengthy reply has not answered any of them.

Interestingly, the Beatrice website nolonger lists Chocolate Milk or any of its relations on their product page.  Why not?  Buttermilk, Egg Nog, Banana Milk and Strawberry Milk are all apparently worthy of mention?  Banana and Strawberry milk are not even sold in all provinces, Egg Nog is only available at Christmas time and Buttermilk is for pancakes, not for drinking.  Chocolate is available all year round.  You wouldn’t be trying to hide your chocolate flavoured dairy concoction, would you?

Dairy Farmers of Canada

Since Beatrice was no help at all, I decided to write the Dairy Farmers of Canada on November 18th to see if they could help.  A few months ago they changed their blue cow logo to include the text “100% Canadian Milk” and was curious to see what they had to say about dairy beverages.

Hello Dairy Farmers of Canada,

I have noticed over the past year the appearance and prevalence of products labelled as Chocolate Milk Beverage or Chocolate Dairy Beverage, in place of real Chocolate Milk.  I have been trying to figure out what exactly a ‘dairy beverage’ is and was wondering if you could shed some light on that?

Would you mind sending me some information on your 100% Canadian Milk programme?  How do ‘dairy beverages’ align the goals of that programme?

Much appreciated

Anyone care to guess what they’ll say?  They’re basically a lobby group, so they don’t want to piss off their dairies, however, they want to sell REAL milk.  There’s a bit on their website about frozen desserts being substituted for real ice cream.  We’ll see, I guess…

What are we drinking??

Packaging copy:  “Made with partly skimmed milk (fortified with vitamins A and D) and added dairy ingredients.”  Unlike real partly skimmed milks as defined by Canada’s food and drug regulations, the packaging of Beatrice’s dairy beverage does not overtly indicate the milk fat content.  To the average consumer, the packaging looks nearly identical to Beatrice’s old Chocolate Milk and Chocolate Milk Beverage products.

For the record, Beatrice Chocolate Dairy Beverage contains thirteen ingredients, fifteen if you count the mandatory vitamins:

  • partly skimmed milk (vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3)
  • modified milk ingredients
  • sugar
  • reconstituted skim milk powder
  • cocoa
  • dipotassium phosphate
  • modified corn starch
  • salt
  • colour
  • carrageenan
  • cellulose gum
  • guar gum
  • artificial flavour

There are five ingredients that I actually understand, which I have highlighted in grey.  Several of the ‘questionable’ ones would seem to be thickening agents:  modified corn starch, carrageenan, cellulose gum and guar gum.  What are modified milk ingredients, anyway?  A quick Google search comes up with all sorts of interesting stuff.  CBC’s Marketplace summed it up well:

That name can mean just about any product that was initally part of milk, especially including the following:

  • skim milk powder
  • milk protein concentrates
  • milk protein isolates
  • casein
  • caseinates

As pointed out in a comment on the previous post, Parmalat’s own Protelac products are sold to the food industry as ‘milk replacers.’    Their frightening marketing copy identifies the true goal:  cost savings.

Each Prestige and Protelac milk replacer is an all-natural, advanced technology ingredient specifically designed to replace the functionality and taste of milk solids in your formulation while generating substantial cost savings verses skim milk (non fat dry milk).

There’s much more to cover in the exciting world of chocolate dairy beverages masquerading as chocolate milk…  In a subsequent post, I’d like to review what real chocolate milk options are left to us, beyond the dairy beverage offerings of Parmalat, et al.

© 2009 http://talkinghead.ca

50 Responses to Chocolate Dairy Beverage, Where’s The Follow-up (WTF)??

  1. BK says:

    Ah the wonders of canned responses, tow the company line and all that.

    It’s sad that companies need to make these general responses instead of letting employees make adjustments to, at least, make them relevant to the question being asked.

    I can understand not wanting anyone to modify press releases or adverts but seriously, why can’t they just answer why it’s a chocolate milk “beverage” instead of plain old chocolate milk.

  2. K@ says:

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. I’m questioning now, after reading the response you received from Parmalat, if I should try my hand at writing. It seems that it may be a pretty standard answer across the board, but I guess it won’t hurt to give it a try.

    Milk replacers such as Protelac may be what the change is, as I’m sure it’s more cost efficient for the companies to develop in a lab than have to worry about pus in the milk supply.

    I think probably the best option for chocolate milk is to either make it at home with cocoa and sugar or to buy organic chocolate milk, which is quite tasty and refreshing!

  3. Scott Douglas says:

    I have also been very bothered about the missing chocolate milk on the shelves. I sent both Beatrice and Sealtest a questioning email and heard back from Sealtest right away. Here’s what they said:

    “Sealtest Chocolate beverage is the same product as that which was known as Sealtest chocolate milk. The change in name reflects our immediate compliance with Canada’s Food and Drugs act. You will find that any chocolate beverage having milk powder in the recipe will undergo the same change.
    We regret that this change has left you feeling uncertain about our products. I have sent you coupons that are redeemable against the purchase of any of our products at major retail stores.”

    I’ve yet to see any coupons. Beatrice still hasn’t got back to me. Tonight in the grocery store I noticed that 500ml cartons of Sealtest are still labeled chocolate milk whereas the 1L are all chocolate dairy beverage. The fact that the 1L cartons cost only 10 cents more strongly suggests that they’ve really cheapened the ingredients in the beverage. A comparison of ingredients between the two revealed that the chocolate milk contains no modified milk ingredients, only skimmed milk. Still doesn’t tell us how these milk ingredients have been modified, though. I refuse to buy the dairy beverage. I’d rather just drink plain milk.

  4. J says:

    Thank you for writing this blog. I searched high and low at both Sobey’s and Metro store today looking for chocolate milk and all I could find were these dairy beverages. This feels very unsettling, and the only alternative seems to be a brand of organic chocolate milk priced at 6 dollars for less than a litre at sobey’s. For that price, think I’ll just add my own cocoa powder.

  5. Jack says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that was put off of this “Chocolate Dairy Product. While I’m reasonably confident that Sealtest’s “Chocolate Dairy Product” is the same as their former “Chocolate Milk,” just having it read “Dairy Product” was enough to put me off it!

    What’s next…ice dairy product?

  6. Suzanne says:

    I’d like to know more about this.

  7. John says:

    As a dairy farmer, I am very concerned about the products masqueraduing as choclate milk. We cannot even buy chocolate milk in our local grocery store, only beverage disguised as the “real” thing. Consumers are being mislead, and that is a travesty in this great country.

  8. steve says:

    I am outraged with parmalats attempt to fool consumers with inferior ingredients. On their promotion site for milk replacers they claim milk is over-engineered and provides functionalities not required.In other words paramalat is telling us nature’s most perfect food is too good for Canadian consumers.WE should have the opportunity to chose to eat healthy nutritious foods and not forced to eat what large corporations tell us to eat.

  9. sandy meyer says:

    When did consumers lose the choice to have milk in their chocolate milk/beverage? We cannot even get chocolate milk in the grocery stores here anymore. Why is my choice to purchase a milk product taken away. I have stopped buying chocolate beverage. As a farmer I think the consumer has a right to choose a healthy wholesome food for their families. Bring back milk in the product, until then I am choosing to refrain from purchasing this product.

  10. Gert says:

    I can’t understand why the dairies are charging the same price for chocolate beverage as chocolate milk. They use dry milk which has less nutrition content and not real and they get it from the farmer for a cheaper price. Who is winning and loosing here? The consumer should be informed of this properly by the dairy. Who is hiding?

  11. Rudi says:

    We should take this to the media. We don’t want knockoff chocolate milk. And we certainly don’t want to be ignored! WE WANT ANSWERS,PARMALAT!

  12. hungry says:

    For the last 2 or 3 weeks, I.ve noticed that not only is the name changed in Sealtests’ chocolate “product”, but the colour is now pale beige instead of rich brown and the there is very little chocolate taste. In addition the beverage is grainy. I have been addicted to Canadian chocolate milk. But no longer. Is that what Sealtest intended? to have fewer buyers? If so, they have succeeded with me.

  13. Gert B says:

    I am very disappointed in our partners the processors.
    We as dairyfarmers sell a quality product and take pride in that,and stand behind our product.
    How can a processor buy our product and turn it into a chocolatebeverage and put it in the dairysection at the grocerystore and let us pay for the promotion.
    It misleads the consumer and it is greedy.

  14. ubot says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my MSN News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  15. steve says:

    As I write this the Ontario Dairy Council {group who represents dairy processors}is trying to have regulations changed so they can change the name to chocolate milk beverage to try to further fool consumers.They wish to also add different ingredients to further dilute chocolate milk.
    Something must be done to halt the continual rape of our food supply.

  16. glen says:

    Chocolate milk uses milk. Chocolate dairy beverage must used some milk and recycled milk and milk powders. Ask CFIA what they call milk and milk beverage.Just like juice and drink.milk powder is milk that is extraand would go to feed or down the drain.look at ice cream and frozen dessert .grape drink never has grape juice.lobster meat never has lobster just some pollack fish and fake flavour and equal.

  17. [...] I googled it – istarted to wnder….. Chocolate Dairy Beverage, Where’s The Follow-up (WTF)?? is a link to a blog that has some information and it appears that labelling standards have changed [...]

  18. Milk Mania says:

    Hello Friends!

    There seems to be a lot of hating going on here and I would like to weigh in on the “chocolate milk beverage” debate. The Food and Drug Act and the Ontario Milk Act have specific restrictions surrounding the ingredients and terminology of chocolate milk specifically. Modified milk ingredients are defined by the CFIA as “any of the following in liquid, concentrated, dry, frozen or reconstituted form, namely, calcium-reduced skim milk (obtained by the ion-exchange process), casein, caseinates, cultured milk products, milk serum proteins, ultrafiltered milk, whey, whey butter, whey cream and any other component of milk the chemical state of which has been altered from that in which it is found in milk.” If you didn’t get that – it means that any components of milk that is removed is automatically termed a “modified milk ingredient” (mmi). For the purpose of this argument – mmi represents whey. The reality is that it is more cost efficient for manufacturers to remove the whey, reuse it a more expensive product (like cheese or ice cream) and replace the whey with a powder or modified milk ingredient. I don’t see people complaining when dairies are adding extra calcium or vitamins A&D to their products – or did you think that was natually occuring in milk too?! If consumers were willing to pay $3.50/L rather than expecting $0.99/L manufacturers would be able to offer “chocolate milk” rather than beverage. I have looked at all the major manufacturers and with the exception of Neilson and a couple of the smaller formats offered by Beatrice, all manufacturers have changed their packaging to read “beverage”. One last note on this point – the dairies did not change – they didn’t change formulation – they didn’t just “start” adding modified milk ingredients. The Food and Drug Act began enforcing and fining manufacturers who were not adhering to the labelling restrictions on chocolate milk – the manufacturers were always using modified milk ingredients in chocolate milk. I hope that maybe I was able to provide some insight – more love folks. Enjoy that milk beverage – it was manufactured to love your wallet as much as your body!

  19. steve says:

    Manny of milk manias assumptions are incorrect.
    Firstly processors don’t remove whey from dairy beverage,whey is what is left over after cheese making.It is a cloudy watery liquid that up until recently was either feed to pigs or put in a lagoon and then spread on fields.The processors receive milk from Canadian dairy farmers that contains about3.8% butter fat.They then reduce it down to 1% fat{thus the term partly skimmed milk]But now they replace some of the partly skimmed milk with whey. The only limiting factor is taste,and it can be fixed with more sugar.
    Then Canadian dairy farmers reduced the price they sell milk to the processors to for chocolate milk from .70$/L to .50$/L to help the processors be more competitive .
    But this was not enough for the processors so they are replacing a lot of the milk in there product with something that was waste and has no value and yet dairy beverage sells for the exact same price as chocolate milk in stores, so the only wallet that they are helping is there own.There is no reason processors can’t supply us with a quality chocolate milk product except GREED.

  20. steve says:

    Some people may be wondering what happens to the partly skimmed milk that is replaced by whey.
    Under the Canadian supply management system any surplus production must be bought back by the dairy farmers,because you can’t store whole milk for very long the processors are paid a processing fee to dry the milk.The dry product is called SNF ( solids non fat)
    Then the dairy farmers stock pile it and then sell it really cheap for animal feed.
    So to sum it up a waste product that was feed to pigs is now in dairy beverage,the milk that was in chocolate milk is now feed to pigs.the processors save money ,dairy farmers lose money and the consumers get a poor excuse for a product and the only winner is the processors.Dose any of that seem right.

  21. Lukesaber says:

    Wow.

    My in-laws had been buying chocolate milk for they’re grandson for a long time until they noticed the label changing. They have switched to real milk and add some Nesquick.

    Tonight, my wife and I went to Zehrs (Loblaws) to get some odds and ends. Stocked to high heaven is Neilson’s Chocolate Milk.

    My wife looked all over the package for anything that said beverage and couldn’t find it. I now have more pride in Loblaws for continuing to offer a quality milk product!

    After a brief search with Google led us to this wonderful posting, I will be happy to recommend one of the very few quality chocolate milk products to someone who lost faith entirely in the market.

    Cheers with a glass of the real stuff.
    You go, Neilson!

  22. mooch says:

    does this all really matter how do you know youre drinking real milk also?

  23. Pierre says:

    I drank Beatrice Chocolate Milk Beverage…. and it tastes awful, it’s like the company has bought a chocolate milk, add some water to save some cost and they add caramel. I don’t like its taste, it doesn’t taste like milk at all.

  24. Jonathaan says:

    After recently moving back from the USA, I had a hankering (yes, a hankering) for some good ol’ chocolate milk tonight. Just like the stuff at Kroger or Publix. I bought something that looked like it. It wasn’t. It was something called (in very fine print) “chocolate dairy beverage.” It was right below the pint (or whatever the metric is) size of real honest chocolate milk ($1.99!!??) and the printing was identical except for the mouseprint. It tasted like crap. Have Canadians lost their taste buds, or have they simply been snowed by corporate greed? So I went a-Googling and found this… Pretty nasty ingredients. Yuck.

  25. Sean O'Shea says:

    It’s Sean O’Shea, teh consumer reporter at Global TV News in Toronto here.
    I am interested in doing a story on this issue for an upcoming segment and would like to find a consumer (in the greater Toronto area) who is concerned/confused about all this beverage/milk business and who would like to appear in a story.
    My email is sos@globaltv.com

  26. Mary says:

    Hi there,
    Here is a FAQ page from Sealtest with some great answers about the “Dairy Beverage” fiasco. Hope this helps!

    http://www.natrel.ca/english/faq/SealtestChocoDairyBeverage.html

    • Ann Endicottt says:

      I am really disappointed that Chocolate Milk beverage is overtaking the dairy section of grocery stores. The packaging is almost the same as Chocolate milk and fools the consumer. One employee swore to me that it was chocolate milk. Another told me that despite his order for chocolate milk he receives chocolate beverage, instead. Very upset!!

  27. Lee says:

    Hi,

    You don’t seem to be updating your blog frequently anymore, but I decided to leave a comment.

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon your articles regarding the issues with the “Chocolate Daily Beverages” being sold, but in case you haven’t noticed lately, Beatrice is selling real “Chocolate Milk” again. It’s label is now “1% Chocolate Partly Skimmed Milk”. I guess in efforts to save money by degrading quality, sales were lost which reduced their profits.

    Perhaps your blog was the one to change that!

    Enjoy your chocolate milk!
    Lee

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  29. DairyPrincess says:

    I’m not defending big businesses like Parmalat or Agropur but I do have a fairly good understanding of the dairy industry. Does chocolate milk really sell at full price? No. Is this a product that only sell $1 for a 1L? Yes.

    My understanding is that when milk is selling at $1 the retailers and the manufacturer are losing money. They feature this product on the front page of the flyer to help drive traffic and shoppers into their stores. They hope that customers will pick up some extras as they pass through and not cherry pick their stores. Unfortunately, the manfacturers had to find a cheaper way to make chocolate milk because they were paying the same amount for the milk that was destined to be $1 Chocolate 1L milk as $4.49 1% 4L bag. The price per liter doesn’t appear to be that big of a deal – Chocolate 1L at $1 or 1% 4L at $1.12/L but the dairy industry is considered a “pennies” business. Ontario boasts 656,000,000L (a $0.12 loss would be $78.7M) of TL milk annually – 41,000,000L of Chocolate milk. If the percentage sold on sale is about 90% than the retailers and manufacturers were losing with viturally every sale of chocolate milk (beverage). Why would a manufacturer want to pump their milk, resources and ingredients into a product that is losing money when they could put it into 1% 4L or filtered milk? Business is not about charity, it’s about making money. So manufacturers had few options ie lose money or use modify formulas, and many opted for the modified milk ingredients (whey powder) in their product. Well… the dairy farmers of Ontario didn’t like that one bit. They wanted businesses to be buying more milk and selling them back the whey (for nothing) and dumping it on their crops. So the farmers lobbied to have the Canadian Food & Drug Act labelling laws changed to force the manufacturer to either use real milk or call the product milk beverage should they use modified milk ingredients. Big business said no. They continued to pump in modified milk ingredients and sell chocolate 1L at $1. And the truth is that the consumer didn’t really care. The people blogging here were obviously concerned, but the general population did not. Chocolate milk beverage sales continued to grow, people were getting the $1 and $2 items that they wanted and retailers were making money again.

    I’m assuming that the dairy farmers eventually screamed uncle because the data gives no indication that sales were suffering due to chocolate milk beverage… yet, chocolate milk is back on the shelf from most manufacturers.

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  32. JustSomeuy says:

    Just noticed today that Sealtest has something labelled as Chocolate Milk in all sizes available at Sobey’s in Ontario… I hope it’s real!

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  38. Joanne says:

    I recently purchased a 1 liter carton of Beatrice homogonized milk and I have never tasted anything so horrible! The milk is before it’s expiry date, it doesn’t actually taste like it’s gone bad. It tastes like chemicals with a milky texture. Not even a hint of milk flavour. I have never had milk taste like this. So… I have sent Beatrice an email via their website. I am looking forward to seeing what the response may be, if any.

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