Healthier Milo: Nestlé Thailand invests US$6.6m in world-first 'no added sugar' beverage version

By Pearly Neo contact

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Nestle Thailand has invested THB200mn (US$6.6mn) in its world-first no-sucrose version of Milo, in response to the country’s sugar reduction policy. ©Nestle Thailand
Nestle Thailand has invested THB200mn (US$6.6mn) in its world-first no-sucrose version of Milo, in response to the country’s sugar reduction policy. ©Nestle Thailand

Related tags: Nestlé, Milo, sugar reduction

Nestlé Thailand has invested THB200m (US$6.6m) in its world-first no-sucrose version of Milo, in response to the country's sugar reduction policy.

Milo UHT No Sucrose contains no added sugar, and all energy derived from the chocolate drink will come from its milk and malt components.

“Nestle Thailand is introducing new products [with more] healthier and tastier choices [to] let consumers choose the amount of sugar they want,”​ Nestle Thailand Business Executive Officer (Dairy & Adult Nutrition) Chaiyong Sakulborrirug told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“[These include our] three MILO variants – the new Milo UHT No Sucrose, which joins Milo 30% Less Sugar (first launched in 2017) and regular Milo.”

“[Milo UHT No Sucrose is the first-ever] chocolate malt ready-to-drink product that does not contain any added sugar.”

“It’s a pioneering product that reflects the government’s public health policy of encouraging Thai people to consume an appropriate amount of sugar.”

The product has received the Thai Healthier Choice Logo, and is one of 48 Nestle SKUs with this certification.

“There is a growing trend among consumers who are becoming more health conscious to look for products that don’t contain sucrose to help reduce the amount of sugar they consume each day,” ​Sakulborrirug said.

“The public and private sector are educating consumers about appropriate sugar consumption and offering them new alternatives for healthy products with less sugar.”

He added that Milo UHT No Sucrose was the result of a collaboration by three product research & development teams: Nestlé’s global R&D centre in Switzerland, the regional level in Singapore, and the local level in Thailand.

“We also conducted considerable research with Thai consumers that included testing the product concept and product tasting. The results showed that 9 out of 10 Thai consumers love the product’s taste and will definitely buy MILO UHT No Sucrose,” ​he said.

Milo UHT No Sucrose was launched earlier this month in 7-Eleven outlets across Thailand, at THB13 (US$0.41) for a 180ml UHT pack.

“It is the same price as regular Milo, and will also be found at convenience stores, retail stores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets nationwide from June this year,”​ said Nestle Thailand.

“[More] additional products with reduced sugar levels [will be announced] as they are launched during the year.”

More Milo sugar reduction

Sakulborrirug also told us that Milo UHT No Sucrose is not going to be the last of its kind worldwide.

“This new variant of Milo is one of several projects ongoing in different countries where MILO is sold to meet consumer demands for tastier and healthier products,”​ he said.

“We are on a journey to reduce the amount of added sugar in across our Milo range, while ensuring that the products meet consumer taste preference.”

Drink manufacturers responding to Thai sugar tax with NPD

Nestle Thailand was not the first to announce the launch of a new, reduced-sugar version of a popular beverage in response to Thailand’s implementation of a sugar tax, phased over six years​ (from 2017).

Suntory PepsiCo has also announced the launch of a reduced-sugar version of its Lipton Ice Green Tea Honey Lemon [link], which was also developed exclusively for the Thai market.

“[We are offering this Lipton Ice Green Tea Honey Lemon variant] as a Better For You option, a healthier choice with less than six grams of sugar per 100ml,” ​a PepsiCo spokeswoman previously told FoodNavigator-Asia.

“It is a [combination] of well‐sourced green tea leaves and natural honey, with a slight and exciting note of lemon.”

As of March 2019, tax rates in Thailand for sugar-sweetened drinks such as Lipton Ice Green Tea Honey Lemon stand at an excise rate of 14% (of retail price) plus additional sugar taxing according to content, as per data from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

As of October 1 2019 this will change to a 10% excise tax and higher adjusted sugar content taxing.

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