The company has launched a line of USDA-certified café style organic teas at retailers across the nation.
“We’ve been listening to our customers, and there are opportunities for us to provide more refreshing beverages to them in different areas,” CEO Tricia Wallwork said.
Organic teas are a natural extension of what Milo’s already sells, she added, since its products are fresh-brewed and free of preservatives, acids, additives and GMOs.
The move is also part of a string of expansions and new developments for the 70-year-old brand, which was first introduced in Birmingham by Milo and Bea Carlton in 1946.
Now, it’s run by their granddaughter, Wallwork, who says Milo’s continues to embrace the key principles her grandparents held dear: focusing on high-quality fresh ingredients, listening to the customers and not sacrificing taste.
“As we grow and continue to add products, we don’t sacrifice that philosophy,” she said.
Wallwork said Milo’s is still enjoying the success of a new product launch two years ago, when it rolled out lemonade, decaf sweet tea and a sweet tea/lemonade combo.
“They were overwhelmingly embraced by our loyal fans, and they’re now available throughout the U.S.,” she said.
Milo’s core products remain popular as well. At the 2016 North American Tea Championship, held in Los Angeles, Milo’s swept the Ready to Drink Sweet Tea category, with its Famous Sweet Tea taking the top spot. Other products also won accolades.
Meanwhile, growth has been steady at the Milo’s facility in Bessemer. The company moved there in 2002, with a 30,000-square-foot facility on 3.5 acres, and it has grown to occupy 150,000 square feet and 15 acres.
More than 100 people work there, and Milo’s also has employees in distribution channels throughout the U.S.
One of the most recent expansions in Bessemer was a $16.3 million, 30-job project last year. The work, Wallwork said, enlarged a cooler in an effort to provide fresher products to stores.
“We make everything at our plant in Bessemer,” she said. “We feel like that is the right choice because we can ensure the quality of our product.”
Milo’s was originally founded as a restaurant, but the family sold off the regional burger chain in 2002 to concentrate on the beverage business.
Wallwork’s grandparents would be proud of how she has grown the tea brand, said Jeff Traywick, senior project manager for the Birmingham Business Alliance, the area’s lead economic development agency.
“Since moving to its Bessemer facility in 2002, Milo’s Tea Co. has continued to expand its market territory and operations, turning what was once a simple beverage option at a hamburger chain into what is now a national brand,” Traywick said.
“Milo’s Tea Co. should be commended for its successes as well as its commitment to quality and community,” he continued. “The Birmingham Business Alliance has had the privilege of working with Milo’s Tea Co. through much of its growth over the past several years and we look forward to what the future holds for this wonderful home-grown business.”
The company’s latest new products, the café style organic teas, are offered in four flavors: sweet, light sweet, green citrus and light green citrus. They are fresh brewed from a custom blend of organic tea leaves and sweetened with certified organic cane sugar or a blend of organic cane sugar and organic stevia.
“Our loyal Milo’s customers reached out to us,” Wallwork said. “They called, emailed, contacted us through social media and communicated to their local grocery stores that they wanted the same great Milo’s Tea flavor using organic ingredients and also green teas. So that’s what we have created.”
Customers can find more information about the new teas here.
Wallwork said the launch of the new teas is going well, and customers should expect to see more new developments from Milo’s.
“We’re going to continue to grow, for our existing customers and for new ones across the country. We intend to be in all of the stores where they shop,” Wallwork said. “And as we look at our continued growth efforts, we will focus on innovation and investing in our team and culture here at our headquarters in Bessemer. We want to grow in a manner that is consistent with our brand and our values.”