Dairy Milk Strikes Back
Thundermilk launched with a significant role out through 7/11, toting a protein-packed cold coffee hoping to make cow milk cool again. This lactose-free, clean-label Ready-to-Drink product carries three flavors: mocha, vanilla and double shot, using cows from their dairy farm in Florida.
It is no secret that the dairy industry has been in steady decline. With the growing popularity of plant-based milk, the USDA reports that 6% of US dairy farms quick milking cows in 2022, which is a slower rate of decline than the past five years. Over the last twenty years, dairy herds have declined by 60%. According to CBS News, "milk consumption is down 42% from half a century ago."
With such sharp declines in an industry that already struggled with profitability, the dairy industry is in a fight-or-flight moment. Innovation and adaptation are essential to the survival of dairy farmers. On the positive side, cheese consumption has doubled over the last four decades, combined with yogurts' continued steady growth signals hope for dairy. Many dairy farms are switching to cheese production as a means to stability.
In the case of Thundermilk, we see a more innovative approach to maintaining liquid milk by appealing to the large market share in the coffee industry and growing RTD cold beverage space.
La Colombe Coffee Roasters did something similar but in reverse order. La Colombe became a coffee company first and then purchased a dairy farm in rural Michigan to support their national expansion with cold brew canned coffee. The 55,000 square-foot facility made it possible for the coffee roaster to work with local dairy farms and scale their product as they grew their footprint with retailers such as Whole Foods, Target and CVS. This purchase took place in 2016, and we have seen the expansion that followed.
There continues to be tremendous growth and scalability in the cold brew RTD space. Even as more players join, more are acquired and consolidated. Thundermilk has made a clever play to preserve dairy farms and keep cow milk relevant as consumer habits evolve.