The Truth About Coke, Milk and Fairlife

  • Article
  • February 18, 2015

Have you heard about fairlife milk?

A few months ago I had seen some people riled up about some ads fairlife had put out in a few sample markets showing pinup style models wearing dresses made of swirling milk. As a huge fan of pinup artists Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren's work, I didn’t see anything beyond a cute marketing idea but fairlife listened to the uproar and ditched the ads. I figured that would be the end of any controversy surrounding milk, I was wrong.

Two weeks ago, a reporter from Milwaukee called me. He wanted to know what I thought about Coca-Cola getting into the milk business. He thought that Coca-Cola being in the milk market would create competition in the dairy aisle and he wondered if fairlife would compete with regular milk sales and hurt dairy farmers.

After my chat with the reporter I started to see articles floating around the internet that seemed to be so focused on the word “Coke” that it missed entirely what fairlife really is. Last night I came across an article by a guy named Clark Wolf (The New New Coke: Milk) on LinkedIn and I knew I had to respond.

What is fairlife?

fairlife is milk. That’s the simple answer. To answer more in depth, fairlife is a milk that has been filtered in a way that allows the components of milk; fat, protein, minerals, water and lactose to be divided into it’s most basic parts. Once the milk is divided into it’s most basic parts, fairlife recombines the parts, leaving out the lactose, some of the fat and increasing the protein and nutrients.

The filtration process is not some sort of chemical process, nothing is added to the milk for it to be filtered. Filtered means just that, the milk is sent through filters to strain the different parts out. You can read more about the filtration process on the fairlife website.

If you have a big bowl of fruit salad but you take out the blueberries because someone is allergic to them, it’s still fruit salad right? fairlife is milk, end of story.

Why is Coca-Cola involved with fairlife milk?

First things first, fairlife isn’t that new. Back in 2012 the people behind fairlife had their product on some store shelves but they didn’t have the distribution that they thought their product deserved, so they began talking to Coke about a partnership. If I had a business that made a drink that I wanted to see one as many store shelves as possible, I’d talk to Coca-Cola too! Coke saw the opportunity to bring a new, innovative and healthy option to the dairy case and signed on.

Who are the people behind fairlife?

Mike and Sue McCloskey are not only the founders of fairlife, they are the owners of Fair Oaks Farms. Fair Oaks, fairlife… see the connection?

If Fair Oaks Farms sounds familiar it may be because Mike Rowe played cow midwife in an episode of Dirty Jobs there, or maybe you’ve visited their farm? With over 500,000 people stopping to visit each year, Fair Oaks Farms isn’t just any old farm, it’s a destination that connects people to how their food is created from the very start.

While Fair Oaks Farm is a very large farm, Mike and Sue and everyone there farm with absolute transparency. Random cool fact, Mike is also a veterinarian! Fair Oaks Farms is a thoroughly modern dairy farm that is constantly innovating to be the best stewards of the environment and caretakers of their cows they can be. After visiting Fair Oaks Farms for myself a couple summers ago, I can say that I have zero qualms about buying their products and because they are so open and transparent, anyone reading this can visit for themselves if they are in the area and see exactly what goes on behind the scenes of fairlife.

Is fairlife going to compete with regular milk?

In my opinion, probably not. People who are happy with their standard gallon of milk probably won’t be ditching it for a jug of fairlife. Since the lactose in fairlife milk is removed in the filtration process, it’s a great alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or are on a lower sugar diet. It’s also a great product for people who want to add protein to their diet. I think fairlife brings more options to the dairy aisle and choice is a good thing.

My best friend Johna is the perfect example of someone who should drink fairlife instead of regular milk. After struggling her entire life with her weight she made the life changing decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery a year and a half ago. After her surgery she overhauled her life and started going to the gym and lifting weights. One day she posted a photo of her fridge contents on Facebook and I was a little surprised to see cartons of Almond Breeze in her fridge. Of course I had to ask her about it and she told me that since her surgery, she had to part ways with her beloved milk because she had developed some symptoms of lactose intolerance. She needs a lactose free option that can pack the extra protein and nutrients to help fuel her body as an athlete. fairlife was practically made for her.

How does fairlife stack up to regular milk nutritionally?

So what’s the big difference between regular milk and fairlife? While I love me some regular milk, I have to say, what fairlife offers ounce for ounce is pretty awesome.

When you compare a serving (1 cup) of reduced fat fairlife to 2% Milk, fairlife offers 5 extra grams of protein, almost 100mg more calcium and only 6g of sugar compared to the 12g of standard milk, they have the same calorie content.

Should we gather all the fairlife and burn it at the stake?

While it may appear that there is witchcraft involved in making this product, in reality, it’s just a combination of cows, science and innovation. I think we can probably save the firewood for something more deserving.

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