Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue have partnered with Milklab, providing the dairy alternative brand with a new platform for consumer engagement.
Muffin Break broke ground in 2013 as one of the first national coffee chains in Australia to stop charging extra fees for soy milk and other dairy alternatives.
Jeremy Regan, Head of Coffee at parent company Foodco, says Muffin Break and sister brand Jamaica Blue have always led consumer trends in this way.
“We work hard to supply our customers with what they want. They were sick of being charged from 50 cents to $1 extra for soy milk, and cutting that cost allowed us to engage with our non-dairy customers,” Jeremy says.
“Now, we’re looking to continue that relationship by offering a new product and wider range of plant-based milks.”
When it came time for Foodco to find a new dairy alternative supplier for its 189 Muffin Break and 117 Jamaica Blue stores nationwide, Milklab came out on top. Milklab Marketing Manager Sarah Herbert says even before the formal partnership, the two companies had a good relationship for some time.
“We’ve been talking and friendly with Foodco, and recently there’s been more of a demand from consumers in Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break asking for Milklab by name,” Sarah says.
“Both Foodco and Milklab are dedicated to providing our customers with the best coffee experience possible. This partnership is an important platform for us to be able to share Milklab with more people across Australia, increasing the availability and chance for Milklab fans to enjoy our products.”
Beginning in November, Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue partnered with Milklab to supply its plant-based and lactose-free milks. Muffin Break stocks Milklab Almond and Lactose-Free and will offer Milklab Coconut as a seasonal option for franchisees from January. Jamaica Blue has taken on a wider range, also offering Milklab Soy, with Milklab Macadamia an optional extra for franchisees. Jeremy says the new alternatives will allow the brands to capitalise on emerging trends.
“We’ve seen a definite increase is requests for dairy alternatives. Soy has historically been a strong dairy alternative and that’s leaning now towards almond, with coconut and other varieties gaining more awareness,” Jeremy says.
“It’s a lifestyle choice for many consumers who are looking to reduce their intake of animal products and are turning to plant-based milks for that.”
Before awarding the contract, Foodco conducted a series of tastings of its brand’s coffees with different plant-based products. Jeremy says from a taste and flavour perspective, Milklab was the top pick.
“For us, it was about the quality of that product working with our award-winning coffee, so we have an offer that tastes really good, works well, and that the customer wants,” he says.
“Milklab has also shown a strong ability to move with the market, with research and development, and understanding what the customer and market are looking for, to which Foodco can relate. Milklab has done a great job of creating a range of plant-based and lactose-free milks. We were impressed by the quality of the product, the work that’s gone into it, and to a degree, the awesome packaging. We also needed competitive pricing and Australia-wide availability, so all our franchisees and customers can benefit from the relationship.”
Milklab’s range features a simple shared design with different colours used to separate the products, meaning they look homogenous on a shelf.
“Many people know Milklab for Milklab Almond, the largest sector of our portfolio, but we have a range of alternative products designed to marry with coffee,” Sarah says.
“We’re like a one stop shop for cafés. They don’t need to go to different suppliers for soy, almond, or other milks. We have a full range they can take on board.”
Jeremy adds that the partnership with Milklab will extend beyond a typical supplier-customer relationship.
“We’re really engaging with our staff so they can work with franchisees,” Jeremy says.
“Instead of just delivering this product to site, we’re actually working hard with our staff and franchisees to get them to understand and taste the product and know how it works with our coffee.”
Sarah says one of the benefits of partnering with Foodco is the knowledge that they have the training systems and professional support in place to ensure consistent use of Milklab’s dairy alternatives.
“We’ll give them our guidance on how our milk should be textured and stretched for optimum use and we know Foodco will roll that out with care. We’re confident they’ll be a brilliant partner for us,” she says.
“We want to be able to give access to Milklab to as many people as possible. Four years ago, Milklab started its life in specialty coffee shops. Those brilliant baristas in the industry have given us a lot of support, and through word of mouth, more and more people have grown to love Milklab. We continue to see an evolution of our collaboration with the coffee industry.”
Sarah adds that the new partnership and increased distribution will open up Milklab for consultation with a wider audience.
“Before launching Milklab, we went on a trip around Australia, getting feedback from baristas and coffee experts. We took that in and are open to listening to what the industry and consumers want so we can achieve the best product possible,” Sarah says. “Foodco will play a role in that discussion. We’re a collaborative brand and having access to more people who can tell us what they think can only be a good thing.
“We’re not just a milk company, we’re serious about coffee and providing the best experience we can.”
This article appears in the December 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.
For more information, visit www.milklabco.com