Fairlife, a joint venture established in December 2012 by the Coca-Cola Company and Select Milk Producers, uses a “proprietary filtering process” to separate milk into its five key components – water, butterfat, protein, vitamins and minerals, and lactose.
These components are then recombined in different proportions to produce lactose-free milk with 50% more protein, 30% more calcium and half the sugar.
Speaking with DairyReporter, Lianne van den Bos, a food analyst at Euromonitor, said that despite the "buzz" surrounding Fairlife some US consumers are put off by a filtration process the Coca-Cola owned company is particularly proud of.
“The benefit with milk is that it is already seen as naturally healthy for you,” said van den Bos. “But when you start to pull it apart, that’s when consumers might not see it as a logical fit with milk.”
“Some bloggers call it the Frankenstein of milk," she said. "To me, that is something Fairlife will struggle with.”
Double the price
Fairlife co-founder, Mike McCloskey, was part of a three-man team that devised the unique process employed to produce Fairlife more than 10-years ago.
In 2003 international patent application, McCloskey and his co-inventors, John Dunker and Timothy Gomez, describe "a method of separating components from milk, and compositions prepared from the separated components."
“It is desirable to exploit the nutritional advantages present in milk by separating milk into its individual components and to produce dairy compositions suitable for consumption by using these individual components in food products," the patent reads.
To learn more about the patented process, click here.
Just over a decade on, Fairlife - in whole, 2% reduced fat, skim (less than 0.2% fat), and chocolate variations - is now stocked by America’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Meijer.
It was rolled out across the US in December 2014 after “amazing results” in three test markets, and sells for more than twice of regular milk.
While some will be put off, many US consumers “don’t necessarily care” how Fairlife is processed, said van den Bos.
How long the hype surrounding Fairlife will last, however, is debatable, she said.
“There is a large group that simply want to try this product. I’m just not sure how sustainable it will be once the newness wears off.”
“Milk is a commodity,” she said. “In the US, private label milk has a high share of the market."
"People just want to buy a bottle of milk, not pay double the price," van den Bos added.