Consumerism Food'n'drink

What’s that got to do with the price of milk?

As part of my conversion to a cheapskate, I was comparing low-fat milks. For a while I’d been buying Pura Light Start or Rev. The supermarket brands are a lot cheaper, and maybe my taste buds are AWOL, but I can’t really detect a huge difference in taste.

But how do they stackup on nutrition? Lacking anything better to do, I decided to compare.

Milk carton

per 100ml Pura Light Start Rev Safeway low fat Coles lite
Energy kJ 183 191 193 193
Protein gms 3.6 3.4 3.3 3.3
Fat – Total gms 1.0 1.3 1.4 1.4
Fat – Saturated gms 0.6 0.8 0.9 0.9
Carbohydrate gms 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0
Carbohydrate – sugars gms 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0
Sodium mg 45 58 43 43
Calcium mg 126 126 124 114
Cost per 2 litre carton $4.37 $4.69 $2.79 $2.99

I’ve listed the Safeway online prices here, with the Coles online price for the Coles milk. I haven’t checked the Aldi nutritional information, but their Farmdale light milk is $2.57 for two litres.

Nutrition-wise it appears the Pura Light Start has a bit less fat, but other than that it’s much of a muchness.

I find it amazing that Rev is so similar to the Safeway or Coles Lite milks, but there’s such a huge price difference. I doubt I could pick it in a taste test.

At least it’s all simpler than back in the day when it was Rev for me, Skinny Milk for her, and full-cream for the young-uns.

What milk(s) do the rest of you buy?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

25 replies on “What’s that got to do with the price of milk?”

I buy the 3 litre full cream no-name milk from Coles, Safeway or Aldi at $3.16 a bottle ($1.05 a litre), or IGA at $3.60 a bottle ($1.20 a litre) if I don’t have time to go to a major shopping centre. I’m convinced it’s the same stuff as Pura or other brands.

With low fat milk requiring more processing, which would not be a minimum healt requirement as it would be with normal milk, it might be done differently in different dairies for different milk brands. But from your table, it looks like the Coles milk is Rev. Does it taste the same? I know I only like PhysiCAL – I tried the Aldi low fat milk once by accident and it wasn’t a patch on PhysiCAL. But I don’t want to pay for PhysiCAL so I just drink normal milk.

With up to 3 bottles of 3 litre full cream and light milk in the fridge (that’s 6 x 3 litres per week) we’ve gone homebrand, regardless of which store. I never thought to check the nutrition guide, as I assumed it would transfer pretty similar, but you’ve proved that for me now. For us, going by price is the only way to go.

I buy organic milk (and here’s where I go check brand in fridge). Urm it’s by Parmalat (perhaps made by Pura?). It costs over $5 for 2 litres. $5.69 is sticking in my head.

Since we’ve moved away from our favourite organic grocers we don’t eat much organic anymore, but milk is something I will always buy organic. Don’t ask me why, I just remember reading somewhere that it’s something not to be compromised on…same with eggs. I’ll read the label later and report back on the nutritional stuff.

Living in Perth, I avoid the supermarket brands, because there is no indication where their milk comes from. Most local brands indicate that their milk is from the South West of WA. Food miles seems important for milk.

Neil, couldn’t agree more. I only buy SW milk.

Over time my family have tried quite a few of the home brands. Many are fine but we find that “refrigerated” products are generally less good. Butter, milk and yoghurt in particular. It mostly shows up when you cook with them. For example both Coles and Woolies butter is useless for pastry making as it contains too much water.

In a taste test, you can often pick a difference. The question for me is whether it makes a difference when you actually use a product. The differences in milk are insignificant when it’s on your cereal, so it doesn’t really matter.

Homebrand full fat for the family as they don’t have weight issues. Lactose free for me with two brands to choose from, I go for the Australian brand despite it being UHT.

my landlord brings me fresh cows milk whenever they come down. some question the amount of fat in it but its a very “skinny” cow.

otherwise i go organic when its available at my local shop or opt for fresh from the South West as Neil said.

Interesting comments all, thanks. For what it’s worth, my milk only goes on cereal or in tea, or occasionally into the mashed potato.

Oh, one thing that is noticeable is the Dairyfarmers brand light milk at work looks watery when mixed into tea. I tend to use the full cream instead for that reason.

Coles has the following 3L Full Cream products:

Coles Smart Buy: $3.16
You’ll Love Coles: $3.66
Pauls: $4.85
Pura: $4.96

I can’t tell the difference so I am at a loss to understand why would anyone buy Pura and pay 157% more.

Even more baffling to me is if you are a house brand buyer what would convince you to buy the more expensive You’ll Love Coles brand over the Coles Smart Buy? Is the more expensive house brand sourced elsewhere, does it have more “goodness”?


mgm, my guess it’s about positioning. There are some people who’ll not buy the cheapest ‘home brands’ due to their downmarket image.

Providing them a middle option makes them feel ‘safer’, while generating extra margin for the retailer.

Also the higher proportion of generic brand sales a retailer has the more they can screw brand name suppliers down on price.

Just a guess.

We’re the only species that drinks another animal’s breast milk (voluntarilly. Cat’s get forcefed it… by us). We don’t need it. We never did. Now our body has developed an addiction to it so we break down without it. The sooner we evolve our bodies back, the better our species will be. Imagine how strong we’d be naturally if we hadn’t been poisoning ourselves SO LONG IN SUCH MASSIVE QUANTITIES that our body evolved to compensate.

I buy Devondale UHT full cream milk (called whole milk in the US). As I mostly use the milk for my morning coffee I find that UHT milk lasts much longer after it is opened. As I am single I find that regular milk from the fridge case in the store will often spoil before I finish it. Some UHT milk can have a slight cooked taste as it is processed at a higher temperature but I don’t mind this. In the US I used Horizon organic milk which really tasted better than the other milk available in the supermarket. Milk in the US is a bit different. There is whole milk, 2% fat milk, 1% fat milk, and skim milk. In the St Louis, Missouri area I remember seeing 1/2% fat milk too. Half and half (half milk, half cream) is also available at EVERY coffee shop, restaurant, and supermarket. This tastes much better than regular whole milk in coffee and I was quite surprised to learn that something so commonplace in the US does not exist in Australia. This works both ways of course as most Australians would be surprised to find that fish and chips and meat pies are almost non existant in the US.

I use whatever light milk is the cheapest…except for home brands. But I hardly ever buy milk. We’re in a coffee club at work, but there are only four of us at -2 coffee’s a day so we take turns buying 1L bottles. At home, it’s only 1L bottles and most of the time it gets chucked out!

In Canada, where I live, we have skim (0%) milk, 1% milk, 2% milk and 3.5% (homoginized) milk. Yes, we have the “Half and half” for coffee, as well, (half cream half milk). Then we have table cream 18%, and whipping cream 35% fat. In our stores we don’t have “home/store” brands. Only 3 or 4 different dairy companies to choose from. Our Milk Marketing Boards control the price of milk across the board. So any particular milk is the same price no matter which brand you buy.

For us, we use a 4L bag of skim, and a 4 L bag of 2% once per week with a 1L of half and half, or homo for the coffee or tea per week as well. I can’t stand the look of skim milk in tea. Urgh :P Very unappetizing looking. for the Dairy Info page
and For avg. retail prices in Canada

Ahhh. Milk in bags – a phenomenon I saw in Europe that I am not into at all. It seems like the bags were leaky no matter what. And I don’t understand the point of buying a packaged product then having to pour it into another container… (Plus I am unco and would surely spill)

I only drink milk at home in my coffee on weekends so I tend to buy 6 packs of 200ml UHT milk (good for 2-3 coffees over a weekend). Currently using Devondale full cream but there used to be a Smart Milk which sat between the low fat and full fat that I preferred, but I haven’t seen it in the 6 packs lately.

I buy Coles Farmhouse milk – full cream, tastes as good as the extra dollup one and is significantly cheaper.

It was easier back in the days of horse-drawn early morning milk deliveries – there was only the one milk. The only problem was beating the crows to the cream.

And the fun thing is that most of the “Homebrand” items are made by the more expensive labels. I just get whatever’s low-fat and cheapest.

I buy the Coles or Safeway brands. Coles Organic tastes better than the name brand organic milk in my opinion. I found that the Pura organic milk often had a sour taste to it after a few days and not being a huge milk drinker it felt wrong that I had to throw out milk which had not yet reached its use by date. No such problem with the Coles organic.

We buy the middle of the road Woolies Lite milk, so Daniel’s comparison chart was very interesting. We drink somewhere between 10 and 14 litres of milk a week (4 people), mainly on breakfast cereal but also straight or with Milo. As we don’t drink soft drinks at all in our house (just milk, water and diluted fruit juice), I’ll accept that my body may be addicted to the lactose in milk and fructose in juice. But that’s gotta be one of the better addictions…..

We drink Pauls Trim Health Plus with added fibre (inuliun). It tastes good and doesn’t cost the earth, although it’s not quite as cheap as the generics. I think we buy it more out of habit now, although I’ve been buying Coles own lite milk lately when I stop for petrol – 2x2L for $5.

I’m a bit late, but I thought I’d just make a comment as someone who was the daughter of a pair of milk distributors for some years–the supermarkets basically have contracts with the large milk companies to supply their milk. This means that it really is the SAME product as those put out by the brand companies, just with special supermarket packaging to suggest otherwise.

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