Warner said the decision to use Shamrock Farms was based on the observation that milk sales break down as follows: 50 percent chocolate, 30 percent white and 20 percent a combination of 2 percent fat and flavored.
"That (white milk) is the big key that makes this program successful," he said.
Warner also noted that the main milk customer is the B&I account. "We're not selling to the kids as much," he said.
Warner agreed with Baddour that $1.25 is the magic price point. "I really think if you go above $1.25 it hurts," he said.
Sanese Services has tried both the Coke Slammers® and the Pepsi Quaker Chillers products, Warner said, but has not had much luck with them. Both items were priced at $2.00 or more.
Coca-Cola Enterprises does not plan to focus on schools exclusively, noted Matt Smith, director of new product innovation for that company. "We think there is opportunity to sell single-serve milk, period," he said. "We can broaden milk availability in places where it has not been available. We want to participate in any and all of the arenas where milk is sold."
Smith said there are machine graphics available to promote Slammers®. In the meantime, many operators remain concerned about the price of the shelf stable products. "The minute you charge more, you sell less," said Jerry Bos, who operates J. Bos Vending service Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. "People aren't getting raises. It's offensive to them when you raise a price."
Bos purchased shelf stable milk (Slammers®) when it was available at Sam's Wholesale Club at one time; it was then available at a price that allowed him to charge $1.00 and make a good margin.
Bos also noted that shelf life is not as important for milk as it is for sandwiches. "Sometimes you need more time to sell the product, but it's less so with milk" than sandwiches, he said.
Bos doesn't' believe that the branding means as much in milk as in other categories. "The people that drink milk don't really care what brand it is," he said. "He either drinks milk or he doesn't. You don't get that brand loyalty."
Milk will continue to increase as operators continue fielding requests for healthier options and as new packaging configurations become easier for operators to work with.
The demand will also rise as operators begin working with more glassfront cold drink machines, which showcase more facings than traditional beverage machines.