Coca-Cola-owned fairlife hits $1bn in retail sales driving new growth to fluid milk category

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: fairlife
Photo Credit: fairlife

Related tags fairlife Coca-cola fluid milk

Value-added milk brand fairlife LLC, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, has surpassed $1bn in retail sales, breathing new life into the sluggish fluid milk category.

Launched in 2012 as a joint venture between Select Milk Producers and Coca-Cola, fairlife has expanded from high-protein Core Power RTD milk-based shakes to multi-serve cartons of ultra-filtered milk (debuted in 2014), lactose-free milk, nutrition shakes, and ice cream pints. In 2020, Coca-Cola acquired the remaining 57.5% stake in the brand to become the sole owners of fairlife and lead its next chapter of growth.

As one of the few bright spots in the fluid milk category​, volumes of value-added milk -- encompassing lactose-free, health-enhanced, or organic -- rose 15.5% in 2021 vs. 2019, while traditional milk volumes declined -7.7% over the same period, according to recent top line sales data from the Milk Processors Education Program (MilkPEP).

Within the value-added milk segment, lactose-free milk grew 30% in 2021 vs. 2019.

"We say fairlife is a nutrition company first, and as the pandemic continues on, high-quality nutrition has never been more important to consumers,"​ said Tim Doelman, CEO of fairlife in a press release. "2021 reinforced the importance of our mission to nourish the world with our better-for-you products, and we delivered on this commitment by bringing our wide range of fairlife products into more households than ever before."

Based in Chicago, ​fairlife products are available globally throughout the US, Canada, and China. 

Hitting $1bn in annual retail sales. 

Throughout 2021 fairlife achieved double-digit sales growth week over week, culminating in the new annual record of more than $1bn in total US retail sales vs. $500m in retail sales registered in 2019. The brand also achieved significant share growth in the value-added dairy category across all top 10 retailers and took the #1 selling brand spot in the category on Instacart, reported fairlife. 

While many businesses struggled to maintain their stamina against the headwinds of global supply chain issues, fairlife and its team remained agile and focused on making the right decisions for the business including a new facility in Goodyear, Arizona, which became fully operational in 2021, significantly expanding the brand's capacity and ability to meet growing consumer demand, said Doelman.

The past two years haven't been without challenges, however, as the brand had to discontinue two of its product lines -- fairlife Creamers and Good Moo'd milk -- to focus on optimizing production, he added.

"This allowed us to meet consumer demand for our top-selling ultra-filtered milk and Core Power protein shakes while seeing unprecedented growth for newer products, like fairlife Nutrition Plan​. 

"Rest assured, innovation is always at the center of the fairlife spirit, and we have exciting new products planned for the future that deliver on the great taste and nutrition expected from fairlife," ​he added.

Animal welfare and environmental stewardship milestones

Alongside its sales success, fairlife - which garnered some negative media attention in 2019 following the release of shocking footage​​​​ showing abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, the ‘flagship’ farm supplying milk to the fairlife​​​​ brand -claims it has made significant progress in its animal welfare and sustainability targets including the passage of animal care standards across all of its supplying farms and major advancements towards its goal of 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, according to its 2021 Stewardship Report​. 

The company is also on track to become B Corp certified in early 2022.

"It's our commitment to the quality of our products that got us to this point and our equal commitment to supporting our communities, caring for the animals that supply us milk and operating more sustainably that will accelerate the next phase of our growth,"​ he added.

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