As the milk alternative category’s consumer base grows from dairy-aversive adults to include their children, plant-based protein drink maker OWYN is the latest company to introduce a kid’s line of dairy free milks, which launched earlier this month at Natural Products Expo West 2019.
OWYN, which was acquired in 2017 by CPG portfolio company Halen Brands just months after its 2016 launch, has quickly shown itself to be one of the fastest growing ready-to-drink protein brands in the category. Speaking with BevNET, Halen Brands CEO Jason Cohen said the company has found a loyal audience among active millennials but saw a white space in the market for those consumers’ children.
“We have a lot of momentum right now on the brand,” said CMO Mark Olivieri. “In the natural channel we have a really strong, loyal consumer base where we’re actually the number one velocity [protein drink] item at most of the key banners within the natural channel. So there’s a lot of people who know who we are and know the benefit of OWYN, so we want to leverage that to now have the offering available for their kids as well.”
While plant-based competitors such as Ripple have also released kids lines in recent months, OWYN products feature low sugar at 5 g per 8.5 oz Tetra Pak serving. The line is formulated with pea protein, flax, pumpkin seed, and quinoa and includes Vanilla and Chocolate varieties. It will retail between $1.99 – $2.49 per unit.
“At a lot of retailers, for example Starbucks, more than 30 percent of consumers walk in looking for a milk alternative to put in their coffee, but in the cooler set for their kids there’s no milk alternative,” Cohen told BevNET, noting OWYN hopes to target food service and provide competition for kid-focused dairy brands like Horizon Organic. “We’re going to focus on the brand’s early input by getting single-serve activation and then going into our key natural consumer retailers where the brand’s strength has resonated the strongest to begin with.”
Cohen added that the line is free of the top eight allergens, making it a safe drink for school lunches.
In addition to the kid’s line, the company also launched two new flavors at Expo West — Turmeric Golden Mylk and Cookies n’ Cream. According to Cohen, the turmeric flavor was launched online direct-to-consumer as a limited edition product, but will enter Erewhon as a retailer exclusive. Cookies n’ Cream will launch nationwide.
While OWYN may be targeting children with its latest line extension, the brand is also preparing to cater to Baby Boomers as well. According to Olivieri, OWYN is preparing to launch a meal replacement line later this year, with Expo East in September set as a tentative launch date. The line has been formulated and packaging has been designed, he said, but the company is spacing out product releases to ensure a smooth rollout for the children’s products.
“We have our millennials, but also their parents are now walking around with OWYN instead of Boost or Ensure and they’re asking for vitamin essentials in a full meal replacement,” Olivieri said. “So while we’re not necessarily targeting Baby Boomers, we think that we will make them feel better by having a meal replacement option built on the millennial culture that they’ll be able to participate in.”