Soy milk is getting a makeover. Along with new processing methods that have helped remove the "beany" flavor, it now has a new look and place on grocery store shelves. Recently, General Mills and Dupont Protein Technologies International launched 8th Continents, a refrigerated soy milk packaged in a sleek blue plastic bottle that stands out from the crowd of dairy and soy cartons. Refrigerated soy milks now outsell the shelf-stable variety, according to SPINS Inc., a San-Francisco-based market research firm. A staple in Asian countries, soy milk has now taken off here, with sales in the United States growing from $1.5 million in 1980 to nearly $550 million in 2001. The most rapidly growing segment is supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, whose sales more than tripled from $77 million in 1999 to $242 million in 2001, according to SPINS. But there's more to it than just the new location in the dairy case and the new container. Along with the new processing methods that have helped improve the flavor, sweeteners and flavorings have made the milky liquid more palatable. "The quality has gone from a dingy yellow liquid to an almost milk-like product," says Andy Jacobson, president of natural products for The Hain Celestial Group, which makes WestSoy soy milks.
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