Milo, Ovaltine or Horlicks? The Malted Milk Wars


It’s time to get nostalgic. I got inspired by Starbucks! Yes you heard it right. The coffee company itself. In conjunction with Singapore’s National (Independence) Day, Starbucks has launched a series of items to commerate the occasion. I’m sure there is some murmur of milking the opportunity for a promotion but two items stirred a bit of thought, the Horlicks White Chocolate Cake and the Ovaltine Chocolate Cake. You can check out the rest of the items over here.

Milo and Horlicks resonated with me. But what do OvaltineHorlicks, and Milo have in common? They were born in the West (Switzerland, US, and Australia respectively, if Wikipedia hasn’t failed me, although today Ovaltine and Horlicks are owned by British companies), are very popular in the East (in addition to their birth countries…and…elsewhere), and less so in the US. They’re all powder-based malted milk drinks, although Ovaltine and Milo are chocolate flavored and Horlicks isn’t.

But Starbucks chose to go with Ovaltine and Horlicks instead of Milo here in Singapore for their cakes. Why? My suspicion is the brand. Milo has a very strong brand cache among the three. So with it, probably came a little bit more money to co-promote and co-market. The other two brands were probably a little bit more willing, flexible and if licensing fees were involved, then a lot cheaper.

In fact, go to any coffee shop here in Singapore and you can order it by name. Iced Milo, Hot Milo etc. But for the other two it really depends if they have it.


Check out my related post: What’s the Difference between Evaporated and Condensed Milk?

Milo launched in the 70s/80s a very strong campaign tying itself very closely to sports. Football, track and field, you name it and they were there. And the push was consistent across countries in the Southeast Asia Region. Furthermore, the focus on ensuring that the link is strong with sports continues till today. Look at these happy faces of children in Malaysia below.


For most Singaporeans, we had it when we were in school as Milo started to sponsor school sports events and hence become synonymous with those of that age group. What happened thereafter? Those guys then aged and now, we are very influential consumers. We remember the brand and even buy it for our young.


So here lies an important lesson. Similar to brands like Coke, target the folks when they are young and when they grow older, they become you loyal customers, even helping you to pass on the brand messaging to their friends and children. Perfect situation.


However, the question is, can Milo continue to be strong. To do so, they have to constantly leverage on their brand to bring young consumers in. To do that, they will have to change. So far, we have not seen that and with a shift in consumers to be healthy and focus on less sugary drinks, they will have to change fast. Can’t leave in the shadow of the past glory for too long. So Ovaltine and Horlicks, there is your chance. If you can change faster than Milo, you will have a shot. There are still a fair number of people who remember your brand. If not, our friends from Starbucks would not have selected you and charged $6.50 per slice of cake with your stuff in it. Take your chance before its too late as the number of consumers who still remember the brand shrink every year.

Good old memories nevertheless. Check out the different history of the drinks below and hope it brings back memories.

Milo (drink)

OWNER Nestlé
COUNTRY Australia
MARKETS Worldwide, mostly Asia and Australia

A cup of hot Milo

Milo/ˈml/ is a chocolate and malt powder which is mixed with hot or cold water and/or milk to produce a beverage popular in many parts of the world. Produced by Nestlé, Milo was originally developed by Thomas Mayne in Sydney, Australia in 1934.[1] It is marketed and sold in many countries around the world.




Ovaltine (Ovomaltine)
TYPE Malted dairy drink
MANUFACTURER Associated British Foods or licensees
(Nestlé in the United States)
VARIANTS Chocolate Malt, Malt, Rich Chocolate
RELATED PRODUCTS Hot chocolateNesquik,Horlicks

A jar of Ovaltine from the UK (2006), a mug of ovaltine made with hot milk and a tablespoon of the powder.

Ovaltine was developed in Berne, Switzerland, where it is known by its original name, Ovomaltine (from ovum, Latin for “egg,” and malt, which were originally its main ingredients). Soon after its invention, the factory moved out to the village of Neuenegg, a few kilometers west of Berne, where it is still produced.

Ovomaltine was exported to Britain in 1909; a misspelling of the name on the trademark registration application led to the name being shortened to Ovaltine in English-speaking markets.



A jar, mug, and a few of teaspoons of Horlicks from the UK in 2007

Horlicks is the name of a company and of a malted milk hot drink developed by the founders James and William Horlick. It is now manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline in the United KingdomSouth AfricaNew ZealandBangladeshPakistanIndia, andJamaica, and under licence in the Philippines and Malaysia.




Check out my related post: How to move the tummy and soul?

Interesting reads:


    • Good stuff! Hope to pass on the goodness to the kids as well! However, in my heart and for nostalgia sake, hope that Ovaltine and Horlicks can still survive so that we have more options in the market.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My mother still buys either Milo or Ovaltine , whatever is available here in the US… Filipino stores here sell these two brands. My mother remembers Horlicks .sold in small bottles, and shaped like medicine pills.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, it has been years since I have seen the Milo logo. I used to drink the stuff when I was younger, but it has vanished in recent times. Over here Horlicks is more famous, as I hail from a British colony.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have at least one hot Horlick’s a day. I live in the USA and though it’s spendy, I prefer the non chocolate flavoured Horlicks that I have imported. It’s such a warm, filling beverage.. but not heavy. I’ll typically have in in lieu of a meal made with skim milk. I’ve never heard of Milo. We do have Ovaltine chocolate flavour yet there’s so many other Hot Chocolate manufacturers here that you don’t often hear about Ovaltine as you did years ago. Fun read. I believe any/all do well in parts of the East because it is healthy when you don’t have the meal selections/availability of the West. Actually, it’s quite heavy with calories. So it makes sense in ex: India to have it simply for all the vitamins in the drink. Here’s it’s looked at more as a treat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point. The “perception” of the drink differs from country to country. Here in Singapore, it’s more as a pseudo meal, something that you take in the morning for example in place of breakfast (or with it) to fill up your tummy while on the go. The calories are a kicker due to the malted sugar content but it gives you that little oomph to start your day or keep it going. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating! thank you for this information. I have been drinking Ovaltine ( hot or cold) since I was a child. I also have had Horlicks but in Canada where I live it is not so easy to find. Milo is what I drink when I am in the US as that is what is in the stores here. The Ovaltine in the US is much sweeter than the one found in Canada and England. I think that is must be made somewhere different or with a slightly different recipe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I believe you are right. They change the tastes as they move across countries. Some of my friends in the States have Horlicks sweets shipped to them. So you have a way to get your Horlicks fix!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Loved reading this. I remember ovaltine but my mother never bought it so I don’t think I ever had it. I liked Hershey’s chocolate milk and malted milk balls. Probably would have liked this too!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I grew up mostly as a Milo drinker. Until now I still drink Milo.

    Ovaltine was never the same before like the late 80’s to 90’s. It was better tasting than Milo then. Now Ovaltine’s taste had changed and it is never better than Milo. But hey, I love the Ovaltine tablet candies very much.

    By the way, I have not tasted Horlick’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it.

    Is there anybody else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Eu pretendia para colocar você esta pouco observação apenas para obrigado mais uma vez considerando o lindo st estratégias você tem discutido neste caso . Foi particularmente generoso com pessoas como você dando extensivamente o que exatamente a maioria de nós {poderiam ter | poderiam possivelmente ter | poderiam ter | teriam | publicitado como um livro eletrônico para gerar algum lucro para seu próprio fim , principalmente considerando o fato de que you poderia ter done it no caso de você desejado. Those orientações do mesmo modo agido como outras pessoas tenha semelhante interesse semelhante a mine para descobrir todo o lote mais com referência a this issue . Eu acredito existem muitas mais agradáveis ​​ tempos ahead para indivíduos que analisou seu site

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting read. Growing up on the East Coast of the States. We had Ovaltine when we were kids. But it was from the Grocery Store and not from any Restaurants or Coffee Houses.
    We also had a couple of choices for Chocolate Syrup.
    But the powdered versions were limited.
    I never heard of the other two that you mentioned.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hello abetterman21. You have such good advertising and production advice, perhaps Milo should hire you as their front man…the compensation would surely make you abetterman…and a richer one. By the way, many thanks for your ‘like’ on a few of my blogs on Conversation With God Using Scripture. They are much appreciated. You write well and I shall also check out your blogs from time to time. Are you actually corresponding to me from Singapore? You have a tremendous following. Did I mention, that as a child, I drink Ovaltine every morning in Illinois, USA. The closest I’ve been to your part of the world is Vietnam.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this post to him.

    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just excellent and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.

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    Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow what a choice! I remember Ovaltine from my childhood. Horlicks from my twenties and later I was introduced to Milo by my then girlfriend, now my wife. So I guess it’s got to be… Milo! What a great post and so much research. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I don’t think I have ever seen Milo in Canada, possibly Horlicks since the name is familiar. I have tried Ovaltine but not for a long time. Are they all basically the same in taste?
    I don’t think I have seen any malted drinks in Starbucks here either. I liked reading your post as you are from another country which I know almost nothing about daily life there. Enjoy your day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you so much ‘abetterman21’ for your LIKE on my latest blog. It was much appreciated. You have been silent in posting blogs for a very long time. I’m sure your followers miss you. I miss you. As a man of God, I know you are still very much in touch with Him. Let us hear from you real soon. Be blessed in the Name of Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Interesting post! Here in the Philippines, Milo has a rather strong following as it usually ties up with the country’s national sports programs. In turn, a few notable Philippine athletes become models for Milo packaging.

    Methinks hawker centres and kopitiams over there also have a big role to play in Milo’s popularity; the eponymous Milo Dinosaur is a treat in itself, being topped with a heap of the chocolate milk powder. (Although some use Ovaltine.)

    Thank you for following The Monching’s Guide, by the way. 🙂


  17. As an Australian, I grew up drinking milo or sprinkling it on my ice cream (and occasionally helping myself to a big tablespoonful straight from the can)
    I was surprised to see it here in Japan 30+ years ago (it was also advertised with a close association with sports, although the marketers managed to pronounce it “Milo” as opposed to “Maɪlo”)

    Liked by 1 person

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