Healthfulness: This is emerging as a top driver across many segments. It is both top-of-mind for newcomers to the category and a deep-set belief within the cadre of soymilk consumers. All natural, heart healthy, high protein, high fiber, low carbohydrate and low fat are descriptors driving consumer interest. More functional factors are calcium, folic acid, amino acids and beta carotene.
Vitasoy Complete is available in both original and vanilla flavors. It is packaged in an aseptic carton, which is sized at 32 oz. and carries a retail price of approximately $1.99. The package carries a lot of information, including the name in a banner across the top of the package, the flavor, no artificial sweeteners and 2 g net carbs. A glass with soymilk and a measuring tape suggesting shapeliness of the glass (and you) appears in the bottom half of the package, along with a seal that emphasizes whole organic soybeans are used in this product. A green banner announces that the product is calcium- and fiber-fortified.
Reading the packaging and understanding what this product is trying to be is important. This is a nutritional product. It may be familiar to those who consume soymilk but can be foreign to those who do not. On the back panel, Vitasoy congratulates the consumer for drinking the most nutritionally complete beverage ever made. The carton tells you it has everything a person wants in soymilk and more. The back panel tells you that it has 3.5 times fewer carbs than the leading brand of plain soymilk. Calories are lower than regular soymilk by a third. Vitasoy has half the fat and four times the fiber of the leader. The package tells us that amount of fiber is more than a full serving of oatmeal.
The aseptic package opens easily and pours nicely from a plastic spout. The product has a low, pleasant aroma. Some of our tasters called the aroma “clean.” The texture of the beverage was felt to be thin. Sweet tasting and thin were the predominant observations.
Most tasters felt they picked up a slightly beany note, which they expected since this was a non-flavored version of soymilk. There was a gritty quality and some of our tasters who are familiar with soymilk believed it came from the added calcium. The thin texture was explained by the lack of added sugars, which is part of the low-carb claim.
With all of its features and benefits, Vitasoy Complete did not get any of our committed soymilk consumers to switch brands. They thought the product was innovative. But they felt there was too much taste trade-off to move to this product as a regular dairy substitute.
Vitasoy’s ingredient statement is filtered water, organic whole soybeans, acacia gum, tricalcium phosphate, organic cane juice, natural flavors salt, gum and vitamins. At 70 calories for an 8 oz. glass, a person is getting a lot of benefits. You get 30 percent of your calcium, 20 percent of your vitamin D and 15-20 percent of the B vitamins, plus 6 g of protein and 14 percent of the daily value of fiber.
Does the product deliver?
This soymilk is indeed Complete. When one thinks about using this beverage to make a blended morning smoothie, the idea of getting so many benefits is appealing. Drinking this straight is another story, due to the thin texture and the taste trade-offs.
But could this be used as a dairy substitute in recipes? Maybe. Why not the dairy ingredient in a casserole? How about in an instant pudding? All the benefits of a dairy product and more! There could be a place in food prep and cooking for a product this complete.
How to make the idea bigger
The product delivers on the promise, but has some gaps. The grittiness and thinness mean you must be fairly committed to soymilk and the added benefits to drink this product straight. Since it is in an aseptic package and Vitasoy is exiting the refrigerated market, producing a product with added benefits that works for food preparation might be fine.
The market that Vitasoy is going after is the athlete, weekend warrior, dieter or active person who needs more of the good stuff more often. The product is currently targeting five major health areas: heart disease, digestion, bone health, possible estrogen benefits and circulatory.
For this idea to be bigger, Vitasoy needs to find a way to reach the market that will appreciate the convenience of all of these benefits in an easy-to-use and very natural form. Additionally, the company needs to stay with the curve on the functional benefits that their target market is looking for.
This is not a product for the occasional soymilk consumer. It will not bring people who find current soymilks unsatisfying into to the usage arena. But the innovative incorporation of so many benefits is admirable.
Rating: The product and package deliver on the promises.
Market Potential: This may not help Vitasoy get a beachhead in this category. Others will follow with the same benefits. It will then be a contest to see who does it better.
For the U.S. market, the key players in the refrigerated section will look at these elements and watch to see which ones sell; then they will incorporate the most appealing attributes. Vitasoy’s innovation will be adopted by others who have a larger share of the consumer mind in the U.S.