• Lion weighs in on the liquid-breakfast category.
    Lion weighs in on the liquid-breakfast category.

You could say Sanitarium created the liquid breakfast category in Australia when it launched Up&Go, but can you even call it a category if, 15 years later, one brand still represents almost 99 per cent of it?

Given the success of the Up&Go brand, of which over 34 million litres were sold through supermarkets in the past 12 months, it seems extraordinary that it’s taken so long for anyone to challenge the status quo.

Today’s time-poor consumer is increasingly eating breakfast on the go, and cereal bars and breakfast drinks provide that convenience factor. The proportion of Australians aged over 14 years who consume breakfast drinks in an average week has more than doubled over the past decade.

Gen Ys are the biggest group to skip breakfast, according to the Australian Breakfast Cereals Manufacturing Forum’s Cereal Social Trends report, but many are now eating breakfast on the go or at work, and seven per cent prefer ‘liquid cereal’ – over three times more than any other generation.

The 14- to 34-year-old age bracket accounts for 62 per cent of breakfast drink consumption over an average seven-day period, even though this demographic only accounts for 35 per cent of the overall population, according to market research company Roy Morgan.

And interestingly, there’s almost no difference in breakfast drink consumption by gender.

In order to maintain momentum with the Up&Go brand, Sanitarium has continued to innovate with new product variations, which are carefully segmented to cover off different demographics.

In 2005, it introduced Up&Go Energise, which is aimed at a younger demographic and contains twice the protein of regular Up&Go and is low GI. And in 2009, it launched Up&Go Vive, aimed at a female demographic and 98.5 per cent fat free, high in calcium and fibre, and low GI.

The Vive range also contains the natural sweetener stevia, which contains no calories. The latest Up&Go product to hit the supermarket and petrol station shelves was Up&Go Energize iced coffee flavour in February.

Around the same time, cereal giant Kellogg’s Australian business introduced Nutri-Grain Breakfast Fuel drink and Coco Pops Chocolatey Liquid Breakfast drink. The Nutri-Grain product, which is targeted at the teen market, is high in fibre and offers the same protein and energy as the Nutri-Grain cereal and milk.

In contrast, the Coco Pops drink is aimed at pre-teens, and is high in fibre, protein and vitamin D. The latter appears to be the first breakfast drink aimed at this demographic.

Both drinks score green on the School Canteens approval rating system and are made with low-fat milk and contain 10 per cent sugar, the majority of which comes from the milk in which sugar is naturally found.

The breakfast drinks are a world-first for Kellogg, which is set to launch a Special K breakfast drink in the US this year, aiming to increase the categories it operates in without having to go through the costly business of launching new brands.

The drinks are currently being manufactured by a third party, so the company hasn’t had to invest in new equipment to produce the drinks either.

Megan Stelzer, product development manager at Kellogg Australia, tells F&DB that the breakfast drinks are designed to taste like their cereal counterparts, but they do not have the same nutritional profiles.

“Some ingredients we can’t transfer across to into a liquid formula, but I believe there’s a bit more to the drinks in terms of nutritional value,” Stelzer says. “[The Coco Pops] cereal isn’t particularly high in fibre, whereas the drink is. It also contains more protein and vitamin D.”

The increase in on-the-go breakfasts has had health experts questioning the social and health impacts of this trend; however, a Kellogg spokesman was quick to point out that the company is not advocating these products are consumed as a full breakfast replacement.

“It’s not designed to be a full [meal] replacement, but to be consumed in conjunction with other parts of breakfast,” the spokesman says. “[In modern day life] everyone is on the go and mad busy.

The statistics are that one in four adolescents and one in 10 children don’t eat breakfast. That’s a problem we can provide a solution to. These are a nutritious option for parents who have kids who are skipping breakfast; it’s another tool in their armoury.”

In contrast to the Kellogg’s product, Lion’s new range Dairy Farmers Oats Express appears to be aimed at a slightly older ‘working’ demographic if its advertising is-+ anything to go by.

The products contain the same amount of fibre, protein and calcium as a bowl of oats and low-fat milk. They are also low GI, contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and are available in chocolate, vanilla malt and banana honey flavours.

Lion does have an existing breakfast drink on the market under its Vitasoy brand, called Vita Go Liquid Breakfast; however, the product has not had a major impact on the category.

The battle of the brands has begun with the three companies behind these breakfast drink brands rolling out the big bucks for above-the-line campaigns. Kellogg is supporting its product launches with advertising across TV, digital and outdoor.

The Kellogg’s spokesman says the new ads for the Coco Pops drink are very different to those for the cereal, and will talk about the need for convenience and be focused on parents.

The launch of Dairy Farmer’s Oats Express is being supported with TV, outdoor, digital, sampling and in-store promotions.

“It will be interesting to see in six to nine months how these new entrants are competing with Up&Go,” says Angela Smith, group account manager of consumer products with Roy Morgan.

“Up until now there really has not been much innovation in the market, but the new Kellogg’s range and the new Dairy Farmer’s Oats Express, which has the Heart Foundation tick, have the potential to change the market.

“I would think that the challenge in the future will be for the new brands to capture market share, and for Up&Go to maintain market share despite the introduction of strongly backed competitors in the [liquid breakfast] space.”

Breakfast drink consumers

  • In Australia, 42 per cent of those who consume breakfast drinks agree that they seldom have time for breakfast.
  • 41 per cent of those who consume breakfast drinks agree that they often buy takeaway food to eat at home.
  • Those who consume breakfast drinks are twice as likely as the total population to sometimes buy drinks that boost their energy.
  • 27 per cent of those who consume breakfast drinks agree that they don’t have time to spend cooking.

Australian statistics provided by Roy Morgan and based on an average seven-day period.

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