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The country's largest dairy cooperative is seeking an agency to help build its first broadscale retail brand, a low-fat, fortified nutrition shake called Healthy Pleasures.

With the launch, Dairy Farmers of America is diving into the $1 billion weight control-nutritional supplements category to compete against Slim-Fast Foods Co.

The plan in extending the market reach of Healthy Pleasures, tested in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, is to reduce DFA's dependence on providing dairy-based ingredients for other companies' brands, such as Frappuccino, the grocery joint venture of Pepsi-Cola Co. and Starbucks Coffee Co.

"In recent years, margins for making products for others have thinned and the only option for us to rebuild revenue and profit is by building our own line of retail products," said Dan Williams, VP-sales and marketing for the cooperative.

He said DFA is in the process of narrowing an initial list of agency contenders, which he wouldn't identify. Mr. Williams added that the budget for Healthy Pleasures would be determined later.


The campaign, however, is slated to launch in six to nine months and likely will play off the theme used in the test, "Finally, it's a pleasure losing weight."

Rather than create their own brands, milk processors have been trying to drive sales of the flat fluid milk category with ubiquitous ad campaigns such as the California Milk Processor Board's "Got milk?" and the "Milk mustache" campaign from the National Fluid Milk Processor Education Program.

But DFA is looking to drive sales more directly by building a shelf-stable, real-milk diet and nutrition product to rival Slim-Fast Foods.' $431 million Ultra Slim-Fast empire.

Healthy Pleasures is 99% fat free and contains 20 essential vitamins and minerals. Flavors, including Double Fudge Truffle and Chocolate Irish Cream, look to capitalize on consumers' eagerness to indulge, especially guilt-free.

Though Healthy Pleasures will "first and foremost be positioned as a weight-loss item," the long-term intention is to expand its usage as a general nutrition product, said Mr. Williams, who served as a marketing director on Healthy Choice before moving to DFA four years ago.

Ready-to-drink products dominate the $1 billion weight controlnutritional supplements category, which grew 5.6% to $1 billion for the year ended July 18, according to Information Resources Inc. Slim-Fast Foods led with overall sales of $475 million. Abbott Laboratories' Ensure ranked second, with $251 million in sales for the base brand and line extensions, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s

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