Nestle Business Manager Anna Stewart told FoodNavigator-Asia that in order to make the change, the company had run ‘the biggest taste testing we'd ever run on Milo in New Zealand’.
“The most important change is the taste – Milo is going back to the one we all remember,” she said.
“The exact Milo recipe is a closely guarded secret, but what we can say is we’ve brought back vanilla to the mix and that’s a critical factor in the return of our taste profile.”
The drinks core ingredients are milk powder, sugar, cocoa and malt barley, which Stewart said has remained unchanged.
“It wasn’t a big change a few years back, and it’s not a big change now – it’s really just a tweak – but that tweak has rebalanced some flavours to make the best-tasting Milo for Kiwis that we possible could,” she added.
In 2015, Milo New Zealand altered its recipe to ‘improve [the product’s] health benefits’, according to News.com.au. Changes included the addition of Vitamins D, B3, B6, B12 and removal of vanilla flavouring, Vitamins A and B1 as well as magnesium.
The change resulted in furious backlash from consumers, deriving comments such as ‘gross’ and ‘disgusting’.
Back then, Nestle New Zealand spokeswoman Margaret Stuart had said that there were ‘no ongoing plans’ to revert back to the original recipe despite the public outrage.
The furore reached such heights that a Facebook page named ‘Change Milo back to the old recipe’ which was created by Milo consumer Taryn Ibell received support from over 9,000 individuals, and continued to put pressure on the company over the years.
The newest version of Milo in New Zealand hit shelves on May 20.
Doubts about change
Despite Nestle New Zealand’s promise that they have brought back the original taste of Milo, consumers remain doubtful.
Commenting on the Facebook page, Ibell said that: “It's still the new Milo, however they put the vanilla back in. So I don’t think they should be claiming it's the original that's back.’
Several other commenters also expressed doubts, with many asking how vanilla flavouring is supposed to bring back the crunchy texture and others accusing Nestle of ‘not caring’ about customer opinion.
Of note is the fact that the recent recipe has re-included vanilla as a ‘flavour’, but most of the remaining ingredient composition is similar to the post-2015 recipe.
That said, Nestle New Zealand has not claimed to revert to the original recipe, but just the ‘classic Kiwi taste’ of Milo.
Responding to queries of why Nestle felt the need to make the change, Stewart only said that: “We’ve had ongoing feedback that Kiwis missed the old taste of Milo, so we knew it was time to bring it back.”
She maintained silence on sales and demographic queries, deeming these ‘commercially sensitive’ although 1newsnow said that Milo sales had dropped ‘significantly’ in 2015 after the first change.