Staying ‘tru’ to the moo

by Bailey Carpenter

Growing up, the most glorious days of the week at my elementary school were chocolate milk days. We would all clamor and push for the door and fight over the brown cartons until every last one was gone. Some of us even claimed chocolate milk made the mystery meat taste better.

Recently, however, schools have taken such heat in the debate over childhood obesity that chocolate milk was banned from many schools because of its high sugar and high fructose corn syrup content.

Dean Foods, one of the leading food and beverage companies in the United States, began working in 2008 to create healthier flavored milk options, and ultimately bring chocolate milk back to the schools. The result is TruMoo (www.TruMoo.com), “a better for-you chocolate milk” made with fresh white milk and containing lower sugar, fewer calories and no high fructose corn syrup.

The product was launched nationwide in August with an ingenious campaign that included school pilots in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast, a Twitter handle (@TruMooMilk), a Facebook fan page and even a sponsorship deal with the Grammy-winning show “Majors & Minors.” Most of their efforts were focused on changing parents’ and school administrators’ existing perceptions of chocolate milk.

“Dean Foods recognized that if we could strike the right balance of ingredients, flavored milk wouldn’t need as much sweetener,” said Andrea Carrothers, MS, RD, and nutrition communications manager for Dean Foods. “Our aim was simple: develop a nutrient-rich chocolate milk that moms and schools could feel good about serving and with a taste kids prefer.”

Carrothers also said that TruMoo milk was the clear choice in taste-tests — TruMoo was even preferred over some of the other high-selling flavored milk brands in Dean Foods’ brand family.

Additionally, Dean Foods’ TruMoo has not only brought moms’ approval back to chocolate milk, but to all classic milk flavors: strawberry, vanilla and even coffee.

TruMoo is produced by multiple Dean Foods dairies across the U.S. such as Shenandoah’s Pride, Barber’s andLAND O LAKES. Shenandoah’s Pride and TruMoo received national attention earlier this year when Fairfax County Public Schools lifted its chocolate milk ban so that it could sell TruMoo made by Shenandoah’s Pride in its cafeterias. This successful integration with the school system has become a focus for the TruMoo branding.

The brand also gained recognition this May when it was made part of the Wendy’s restaurant chain’s national beverage portfolio. The nationwide product launch also included couponing and national TV and print advertising. The light-heartedcommercials feature moms weighing the pros and cons of the product, complete with tiny ‘devil’ and ‘angel’ milkmen.

The result of all these TruMoo branding efforts? According to an August 30 PRNewswire press release, in taste tests, consumers prefer “TruMoo over national brands, chocolate drinks, and Dean Foods’ own previous flavored milk formulas”; TruMoo was “recently recognized with the ‘Parent Tested Parent Approved’ seal of approval”; and “tens of thousands of schools across the country have converted to fat-free TruMoo.”

With that said, three cheers for Dean Foods for bringing back a ‘Tru’ cafeteria favorite — not to mention launching a highly successful branding campaign.

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