Product Review: Coco Pops Liquid Breakfast

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 14 March 2013.
Tagged: breakfast, breakfast cereals, Calories, children, chocolate, dairy, fluids, healthy kids, liquid diet, milk, school lunch, sugar, sugary drinks

Product Review: Coco Pops Liquid Breakfast

Most health professionals have a set against pre-sweetened kids’ cereals, as they’re generally low in fibre and only train young taste buds to prefer a bowl of ‘something sweet’ at breakfast. So when I spotted a new ready-to-drink breakfast liquid under the Coco Pops brand at the supermarket, I had to investigate.

[EDIT: Just for clarification, this drink is reviewed in the genre/category of flavoured milks and scored accordingly. I do NOT consider a liquid breakfast drink to be a healthy breakfast for a child and do NOT endorse or recommend it. It is NOT as good as a bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk or an egg on toast as some readers appear to believe. No fee was received for writing this Review.]

Taste 6 out of 10

Smooth, sweet and easy to sip on. I liked the consistency as it was drinkable unlike many of the soy breakfast drinks which are horribly thickish. Clean taste, but a little too sweet for my liking. I couldn’t drink it all in one go. But it aligns with the original flavour of the cereal.

Nutrition 16 out of 20

Coco Pops is a tricky brand. It’s usually associated with the wrong things like 'sugary cereal' and advertising unhealthy foods to young kids who can’t distinguish between an ad and a real TV show. So to be fair, I’ve listed all the pros and cons from the label plus lined it up side-by-side with a regular chocolate-flavoured milk. The verdict?

The Pros

  • Low in fat

At only 1.3 per cent fat, Coco Pops Liquid is a genuine low-fat choice on par with any reduced-fat milk (which makes up 90 per cent of its ingredients). In contrast, regular milk has 3 to 4 per cent fat.

  • Sugars in line with others

My taste test gave a pure solid sweetness, so I wasn’t surprised to see it has 9.8 per cent sugars, which is higher than the soy-based brands like Up & Go Chocolate at 7.6 per cent while Vitasoy Chocolate at 6.5 per cent.

Note this is ‘sugars’ which is the sum of the added cane sugar PLUS natural lactose sugar from milk. Kellogg tell you that over half the sugars comes from milk so I’m guessing that around 5 per cent is added. So it's lower than a fizzy drink at 11 per cent and most juices at 8-13 per cent.

  • Protein

At 3.9 per cent or 9.8 g per pack, it’s high in protein. But so is any other milk drink.

  • Fortified with 6 vitamins and 2 minerals

Coco Pops Liquid Breakfast has added thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin D, which is now borderline-deficient in many recent surveys. Plus there’s added calcium 400 mg per serve in total (or 50 per cent of your day’s recommended intake) and 3.0 mg iron (25 per cent). These additions mirror the original cereal and are a bonus although it could be argued they're there for marketing purposes! Assuming they’re all absorbed, you’re giving your kids a vitamin/mineral supplement as they walk to school/sport. Technically it’s a ‘formulated supplementary food’ because of these.

  • Suitable for canteens

As a flavoured milk, it meets the three required criteria of

  1. saturated fat less than 1.3 g per 100 g
  2. calcium of more than 100 mg per 100 g and
  3. low kilojoule count of less than 900 kilojoules.

This is why it qualifies as a ‘Green’ (healthy) food for schools. This surprised me but I noted that it is similar to approved chocolate flavoured milks such as Big M, Moove, Milo and Nippy’s but with less fat and more vitamins and minerals. See the pack shots below.

  • Small but sensible portion size

At 250 ml/8 oz which is one cup, it’s a sensible portion size for a primary school child. Less than the unfinishable 375 ml can of soft drink or 600 ml carton of chocolate milk. There's also a Nutri-Grain branded product with similar nutrition comments to this one.

Coco-Pops label collage

The Cons

  • No chewing or eating

Sadly I get worried that our kids are drinking in the kilojoules/calories and here’s another product that fits this trend. You don’t have to sit down and chow through a bowl. Great if you’re in a hurry but it’s not as filling and satisfying as whole food eg whole grain cereal with milk. Drinks never are! So you’re hungry again in an hour.

  • Non-grain fibre

Yes there’s 1.8 per cent fibre but it’s been added as inulin, a new fibre derived from chicory. As it’s high in fructose, inulin can trigger gas and bloating in sensitive stomachs. It’s not the same as wheat bran or oat fibre that are usually present in cereals

  • Not for under two’s

As it’s low fat milk, it’s not suitable for toddlers under two. They need fat. But I wouldn’t be worried if your young one had one of these. Better than many other drinks and snacks toddlers get these days.

Ingredients from the label:

Reduced fat milk (90%), sugar, skim milk powder, vegetable fibre (inulin), cocoa, flavours, stabilisers (460, 466, 407), minerals (calcium carbonate, iron), acidity regulators (339, 332), vitamins (niacin, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin).

 

Nutrition information

  Per Serve 250 ml Per 100 g

Kilojoules

Calories

740

176

300

71

Protein, g  9.8  3.9

Total fat, g

Saturated fat, g

 3.2

2.2

 1.3

0.9

Carbohydrate, g

Sugars, g

Lactose, g

 24.5

24.5

13.8

 9.8

9.8

5.5

Dietary fibre, g  4.5  1.8
Sodium, mg  150  60

 Figures from manufacturer’s label. Date 4/2/ 2013

Convenience 10 out of 10

Nothing to prepare. Store in the fridge. Grab as you race out of the door to training, school, college or work. Non-messy so can be sipped in the car or train.

Sustainability 7 out of 10

The milk comes from Australia but I trust so do all the other ingredients like milk solids, sugar, inulin and the three stabilisers. It’s not clear from the pack. Basic waxed paper container as a tetra pack, like other drinks. Please dispose in a bin. Hope I don’t pick it up from the bush on Clean Up Day!

Side by side with chocolate milks

Coco Pops Liquid Breakfast less fat, more fibre and around the same content of sugars as regular chocolate-flavoured milk, most of which are based on full-fat milk and aimed at hungry teen boys. Note the serve sizes. We've already reviewed Big M School Smart Milk Mini here.

 

Coco Pops

250 ml

 

Chocolate Moove

300 ml

 

Up & Go Chocolate Ice

350 ml

 

Rush

250 ml 

 

 Oak

 300 ml

 

Kilojoules  740  880  1150  510  1128
Protein (g)  9.8 9.6  11.6 9.5   10.5
Fat (g)  3.2  5.4  5.3  2.0  10.2
Sugars (g)  24.5  29.7  26.6  14.5  31.8
Fibre (g)  4.5  NA  5.3  2.8  NA
Sodium (mg) 150 126 228 110 150

 

Side by side with Sanitarium Up & Go Chocolate Ice Liquid Breakfast

Due to its larger 350 ml pack size, you get more kilojoules , more protein, more sugar, fibre and sodium than from the Coco Pops. You also get around the same vitamins and minerals, some are at 35 per cent of the recommended daily intake (RDI), some at 50 per cent while Coco Pops is 50 per cent with some at 25 per cent. How relevant this is depends on your individual child and their diet. The Coco Pops has added vitamin D whilst Sanitarium has added vitamin A.

 

Overall Score 3.5 apples

Total = 39 out of 50 Apples 3 half smll

Think of this as a chocolate-flavoured milk using the marketing power of the brand name of Coco Pops. There are no actual Coco Pops in it! If you already let your kid drink chocolate milk, this is another. You don’t have to drink it as breakfast – it can be drunk at lunch or after school. As an occasional breakfast replacement, it’s fine but it’s not equivalent to a bowl of real cereal with milk.

Compare the sugars in chocolate-flavoured milks

Brand

Sugars
per cent or per 100g

Oak* 10.6
Moove ** 9.9
Coco Pops* 9.8
 Big M **  9.5
 Vitasoy*  6.5
 Rush*  5.8

*Figures from manufacturer as at March 2013

**Figures from www.calorieking.com.au