New Freshness Program Boosts Sales

In the spring of 2004, the brands produced by MILCO, a manufacturer of yogurts, fresh milk and chilled fruit juices, were lagging in the United Arab Emirates marketplace. Competing products were taking market share away from MILCO’s brands, and the company’s packaging was decidedly behind the times.

In short, the company, which distributes product throughout the U.A.E. and has sales of about $150 million annually, needed to rejuvenate the MILCO brand line.

With fresh milk prices fixed by the dairy association, the company could not differentiate itself by using price. And, since most of its goods are commodities, they only had a limited ability to change the products themselves. So, MILCO, a fully owned subsidiary of the National Food Products Company, decided to create a point of differentiation versus other manufacturers based on product freshness assurance due to Fresh-Check® indicators. The company’s goal was to gain market share and capture the position as the marketer of the freshest products in an increasingly competitive country, where the cold chain is difficult to maintain.

After reviewing several possible options to upgrade the image of the company’s product line, reassure the consumer and improve the freshness from the plant to the store and from the store to home, MILCO selected the Fresh-Check program from TEMPTIME. The program features Fresh-Check indicators that are applied to individual food packages to provide an assurance of freshness from the time of packaging by MILCO at its processing facilities, throughout the retail distribution process, and all the way to the time of use by the consumer.

The Fresh-Check program at MILCO was first tested on a limited number of items from October 2004 to February 2005. Consumers and retailers were quickly sold on the concept, and MILCO launched most of the rest of its product line, including milk and fruit juices, in March 2005.

When MILCO fully launched the Fresh-Check program, the company planned and executed a broad marketing campaign complete with new signage, billboards, newspaper advertising, shelf talkers, explanatory leaflets and a public relations effort. The company even redesigned their trucks to show Fresh-Check indicators on the product images. Combined with the new packaging design, the MILCO product line now clearly shows freshness.

“The Fresh-Check indicator gave considerable impetus to the MILCO brand comeback program,” said Philippe Devismes, Marketing Director of MILCO.

MILCO has experienced a 30% increase in sales and a growing market share since launching the Fresh-Check program and redesigning the product packaging. Support for the program by MILCO’s customers is very strong, with Carrefour, the leading hypermarket chain in the U.A.E., maintaining the company’s products in their assortment mix.

“This device has improved our working practice in cold-chain management,” said Khalil Traboulsi, CEO of MILCO.

Fresh-Check indicators are now fully integrated into the MILCO brand identity. In addition, other food subsidiaries of National Food Products Company, including the group’s other units that produce dairy products, are considering implementing the Fresh-Check program.