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The Milo challenge: Aldi vs Nestlé

We put Aldi's NRG Maxx up against Nestlé's original Milo – which one came out on top?

nestle milo vs aldi nrg maxx energy food drink
Last updated: 23 September 2019

Need to know

  • 41 CHOICE staff (including a few CHOICE kids) took our blind taste test and voted for their favourite chocolate milk drink
  • Aldi's lookalike product is half the price of original Milo
  • We polled Facebook followers to find out how people prepare their Milo: which comes first – the milk or the Milo?

If you grew up in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s, chances are that Milo was a childhood staple. Whether you consumed it hot, with cold milk, over ice cream or just straight from the tin, Milo is an iconic Aussie favourite, up there with Vegemite and fairy bread.

Could any new lookalike product possibly measure up to the treasured original? Enter Aldi with its NRG Maxx chocolate drink that many are touting as a cheaper, and perhaps even better, alternative. 

It's half the price of Milo and has a similar nutrition profile, but is it as good as the original? We pitted the OG against the new kid on the block to see which one came out on top. 

Jason Milo Vs Aldi

"It has a full-bodied palate, with notes of cinnamon and brown sugar..." CHOICE staffer Jason takes his Milo-tasting responsibilities very seriously.

And the winner is…

Milo! In a convincing win, 66% of our taste testers preferred the OG chocolate milk drink.

Most people could easily tell which sample was the Nestlé product: a full 78% of our testers correctly picked which product was the original Milo (it was Sample 1). Some testers correctly identified the Nestlé product, but still preferred the Aldi product. The general consensus was that the NRG Maxx (Sample 2) was more chocolatey and sweeter than the Milo, which appealed to some palates. But for those who grew up on the stuff, old-school Milo is hard to beat.

But a full third of testers liked the Aldi product. And at half the price of original Milo, it could be a good option if you're trying to stretch the family budget.

Let's face it though, "you've gotta be made of NRG Maxx" doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "you've gotta be made of Milo".

Top or bottom?

How you do your Milo is a very personal thing – and we discovered that it's a topic that many Australians are very passionate about.

We conducted a Facebook poll to find out how people construct theirs, and we were blown away by the response. More than 7000 people cast their vote, and at the time of writing almost 600 people shared their thoughts on this very important matter.

Turns out most of us put the Milo in first, then the milk – 72% of people make their Milo this way. Just 28% of people add Milo to the top.

However, in an interesting twist, three of the four CHOICE kids who took the taste test put the Milo on top. Kids these days, huh?

How did we do it?

Three o'clock in the afternoon at CHOICE HQ generally sees a bunch of staff with low blood sugar and/or low blood caffeine descend upon the kitchen for a hit of their pick-me-up of choice. So we tapped into people's natural circadian rhythms and set up our Milo challenge to coincide with this. 

We invited 40 CHOICE staff to do a blind taste-test of both the Nestlé original and the Aldi knock-off, and then vote for their favourite. Participants were encouraged to make their drink to their own personal specifications in a judgement-free zone. (You'd be surprised at how many people were embarrassed by the ratio of Milo to milk they prefer, but we didn't witness any spectacularly heinous crimes against nutrition. What people do in the privacy of their own homes may be a different matter, however...).

We also asked them if they could tell which product was the Nestlé original, just to see how convincing the Aldi version really is. 

And we invited some CHOICE kids to come and taste both products, to see whether the cheaper version was acceptable to younger palates.

three children taste testing

CHOICE kids Harper, Kaylee and Teagan were clearly disappointed to be roped into the Milo challenge.

What were the results?

  • 66% of CHOICE taste testers preferred the Nestlé product, based on taste
  • 34% preferred the Aldi product
  • 78% correctly identified the Nestlé product
  • 15% thought the Aldi product was the original Nestlé product
  • 8% of people said they couldn't tell which product was which
  • A number of testers said they'd happily buy the Aldi product
  • Several testers correctly identified the Nestlé product, but voted the Aldi product as their favourite.
  • Of the kids, two preferred Milo, one preferred NRG Maxx and one couldn't decide between the two. 
Emily Milo Vs Aldi

CHOICE staffer Emily demonstrates the Milo-first method.

What did the taste testers say?

  • "Milo isn't as chunky as what it used to be." – Wendy
  • "Sample 1 has that nostalgic taste. It reminds me of my childhood." – Patrick
  • "I'd happily drink either." – Rachel
  • "I have no idea. They taste exactly the same to me." – Amira
  • "Sample 2 tastes like a Milo bar – the old ones from the 90s." – Kim

The Aldi one is more like hot chocolate; more sophisticated. The Milo one feels more crumbly; more kid-like.

Alana
  • "Sample 2 isn't Milo but it tastes better." – Emily
  • "When I had them both with cold milk I didn't like either." – Uta
  • "Sample 1 was richer, with more depth of flavour. But I think Sample 2 is the real one." – Guy

CHOICE tip: for a dairy-free alternative to Milo and milk, try chocolate Nesquik with soy milk. It's a great option for kids with dairy allergies. (With thanks to Rachel VZ.)

Where is Milo the cheapest?

While it's easy to assume that Aldi is always cheaper than Coles and Woolworths, it's not always true. Based on pricing at the time of our test, Costco had the cheapest Milo in town, followed by Coles, Aldi and then Woolworths. 

 Retailer Milo price Milo price/100g
Costco  $13.99 for 1.5kg $0.89/100g
Coles $12.00 for 1.1kg $1.09/100g
Aldi $13.99 for 1.25kg $1.12/100g
Woolworths $12.00 for 1kg $1.20/100g
Ash Dan Marianna Milo Vs Aldi

Ash and Dan assess Marianna's Milo-making method.

A note on Health Stars

In 2016, CHOICE awarded Milo a Shonky for its 4.5 Health Star Rating. It was calculated based on a serving size of three heaped teaspoons mixed with 200mL of skim milk. We argued that this was dishonest as it took advantage of skim milk's low health star rating to make the product look healthier than it actually is.

"Most Aussies don't consume Milo with skim milk alone," CHOICE campaigner Katinka Day said. "To claim a health star rating by adding nutritionally superior ingredients of another product is not helpful, especially for people who eat their Milo with full cream milk, or even straight out of the can or on ice cream."

Milo should have a Health Star Rating of 1.5 to more accurately reflect its nutritional status. 

In response to CHOICE's campaign, Milo agreed to drop its 4.5 Health Star Rating, but decided not to display the correct rating of 1.5 stars. 

Even now, the Health Star Rating is conspicuously missing from the Milo tin. Aldi's NRG Maxx product prominently displays its 1.5 Health Star Rating. 

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