Long time friend, banana milk fills your heart
There is a brand of yellow milk contained in a jar-shaped plastic bottle. It is Binggrae’s Banana Flavored Milk, a beverage that has been proving nutrients and filling people’s hearts for many years. The brand of milk has just turned 40, and the nostalgic product with its emblematic chubby bottle has been loved by generations, regardless of sex or age.
Banana Flavored Milk was launched in June 1974. In the 1970s, the government encouraged people to consume more milk, but natural white milk did not suit people’s taste due to its simple flavor. Then, Binggrae, a dairy company, came up with its Banana Flavored Milk. Binggrae added banana flavoring to the milk at a time when it was difficult to find bananas in Korea due to import restrictions. Now, the milk has grown to be a representative Korean product.
With its long history, almost everyone in Korea knows Binggrae’s Banana Flavored Milk. Those who tasted the milk when they were young tend to consume the same product when they are grown up. About 800,000 bottles of Banana Flavored Milk are sold each day in Korea and around 6 billion bottles have been sold across the country since the product wasㅍ launched in 1974. Binggrae sold KRW 150 billion worth of banana milk in Korea last year alone. The popularity of Banana Flavored Milk among people of all ages is, first of all, attributed to its taste. It consists of 80 percent milk, giving it a soft and savory taste. In Korea, there are few flavored milks that have such a high content of natural milk. Also, the unique shape of the bottle is strongly associated with Binggrae. Its chubby, paunchy design is said to be inspired by traditional Korean jars. According to the company, it initially came up with a polystyrene bottle because it wanted to differentiate its product from glass bottles and the plastic packaging that was prevalent as milk containers in the 1970s. The company created an overhanging lip so that the milk wouldn’t drip onto the drinker’s face. The bottle was also designed to be semitransparent so that it showed the yellow milk inside. Forty years on, the bottle has become a symbol of Banana Flavored Milk.
Banana Flavored Milk is produced at Binggrae’s factory in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province). Tapping Banana Flavored Milk’s popularity, Binggrae launched Melon Flavored Milk contained in a bottle of the same shape in February 2014. Now there are four lines of related products: Banana Flavored Milk, Strawberry Flavored Milk, Banana Flavored Milk Light and Melon Flavored Milk.
Banana Flavored Milk’s popularity is growing beyond Korea, too. The company started exporting the flavored milk to the U.S. in 2004. Now, it is available for purchase in 13 nations, including Canada, China and the Philippines. The company initially exported the milk in the same jar-shaped plastic bottle, but now it sells the milk overseas in a sterilized paper package to lengthen its shelf life.
Banana Flavored Milk is particularly popular in China. The milk first became available in China in 2008 and since then its popularity has shot upward. Sales of the milk surpassed KRW 10 billion in 2012 and increased 54 percent last year to reach KRW 15.5 billion. It is sold for CNY 8.50, or about KRW 1,500, in Shanghai and young Chinese have become very fond of the drink.
“With the increase in Chinese tourists bound for Korea and the spread of Korean pop music and TV, Banana Flavored Milk has become well known in China,” said Brandon Suh, a brand manager at Binggrae. “Recently, it has become a must-drink for tourists in Korea and it is getting more and more popular. Even travel guides recommend that tourists drink the milk.”
“It is more than just a milk to those who drank Banana Flavored Milk when they were young because it brings on a wave of nostalgia,” said Suh. “When people drink Banana Flavored Milk, they feel as if it not only fills their stomach, but also fills their heart.”
By Limb Jae-un
Korea.net Staff Writer