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Nestle Australia launches world-first version of plant-based, reduced-sugar malt drink

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Nestle Australia has launched the world’s first version of a plant-based Milo, which boasts lower sugar content in addition to its vegan consumable status.
That the global F&B MNC has opted to launch this innovation first in Australia is no surprise given that the country ranks top in terms of veganism popularity worldwide.

“We know people are looking for dairy alternatives and more plant based products [here in Australia], so it was time to look at how Milo could evolve to offer more options that don’t compromise on taste,” Nestle Australia Business Manager Dairy Anna Stewart told FoodNavigator-Asia.

Milo is one of the firm’s hallmark products that has been met with incredible popularity, including in Australia. Most consumers are so familiar with its taste that so introducing any changes to the formula could be considered something of a risk.

This has previously been evidenced by the furious customer backlash that Milo New Zealand was faced with previously when trying to ‘improve’ the product in 2015 – so much so that it had to bring back the original recipe last year.

The difference here of course lies in that Nestle Australia is not replacing the original Milo with a new recipe, but instead adding a new product to its portfolio.

Stewart acknowledged that there would be some ‘slight’ differences from the original, but the taste that mattered would remain unaltered, just accessible to vegan consumers.

“The milk powder has been removed and replaced with soy protein and oat flour - so [in terms of taste] there is a slight difference, however we believe [that Milo’s traditional] delicious choc malt taste remains,” she said.

The new plant-based Milo also carries an additional benefit – reduced sugar content, as the sugar from milk has been removed.

“There is less total sugar in Milo Plant Based as the product does not contain any milk powder and [which] naturally contains lactose,” Stewart added.

“[It] is lower in sugar compared to original Milo as such, with 5.4g total sugars per 20g serve [as compared to] 8.8g total sugars per 20g serve in regular Milo.”

Stewart added that the company removed the HSR for Milo in 2018 so comparisons cannot be made in terms of Health Star Ratings (HSR).

Milo Plant Based is currently retailed at Australian Coles stores, and will be in independent supermarkets in the coming months, priced at RRP A$6.99 (US$4.24) for 395g. This is comparable to regular Milo, which is priced at RRP $6.99 (US$4.24) for 460g. 
Challenges and future
Although many prefer it for its taste, Milo was originally conceptualised as an energy supplement for consumers, and Milo Plant Based is no different.

“It contains a combination of vitamins and minerals, Vitamins B2 and B3 to support effective energy release, calcium and Vitamin D to support bones and teeth, and the essential nutrients iron, zinc and vitamin B12, which may be limited in plant based diets,” said Stewart.

“[But because] Milo is a supplementary food, we had to ensure we met the protein requirements to comply with this classification.”

Nestle currently has no plans to expand the launch of this product to other countries beyond Australia, but this is not off the cards yet especially as feedback has been good so far.

“We’ve had some feedback from consumers who love the taste and are pleased to see we’re offering a plant-based solution - The early indications are positive,” said Stewart.

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