Hurricane Aftermath

Industry assesses impact of Katrina on resin supply for plastic bottles.
Notices of short supplies of resins used for blow-molded milk jugs have been issued by suppliers, threatening cutbacks in milk processing, according to several companies as reported by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). Among the many complications from Hurricane Katrina was the closure of a major U.S. hydrogen-producing facility in New Orleans; hydrogen is needed to make the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin for plastic beverage containers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fluid Milk and Cream Review from the Central Region noted the issue had been raised by some large users of resin. In addition, the agency’s Eastern Region report noted that Katrina’s destruction “may impact the supply/availability of resins used to make the plastic used to make milk containers.”
IDFA has confirmed a significant number of members are facing HDPE allocation cuts amounting — at least at one point — to as much as 30 percent. The association has asked the plastics industry for prioritization of milk over other non-perishable food products, and has asked the government to assist in sourcing foreign sources of resin, as well as to prioritize recovery efforts relating to the New Orleans hydrogen facility.
USDA, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security all have been assisting in seeking short-term solutions to the plastics problem. IDFA is asking its members to supply specifics on any unmet resin needs, as well as any suggestions for actions to take, as the association works closely with government agencies on steps to lessen or eliminate disruptions in milk processing. For more information, contact Clay Detlefsen at (202) 220-3554 or cdetlefsen@idfa.org.
As Dairy Field reported last month in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina, the storm is expected to hit many processors hard, including Dallas-based Dean Foods Co., which reported additional expenses of up to $10 million, largely from increased costs for the petroleum-based resin used for its plastic milk bottles, and for diesel fuel.  
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Product and promotion news
Arden Hills, Minn.-based Land O’Lakes Inc. is introducing two innovative packaging changes to its flagship butter line. The first change comes in the form a new and improved butter wrapper. The FlavorProtect™ wrapper is specially designed to retain freshness and keep out other flavors better than wax paper. Independent testing confirms the new wrapper is superior to traditional wax paper wrappers, the company says. Land O’Lakes Butter and Unsalted Butter are the only butter products on the market using this exclusive wrapping. With a similar look to the old one, the new wrapper still includes the famous Land O’Lakes Indian Maiden logo and measurement lines. The FlavorProtect name is prominently displayed on each wrapper. Land O’Lakes is promoting its new FlavorProtect wrapper with a national television advertising campaign, online promotion and in-package offers. The television ads began airing in early September. In addition, the company will introduce a new half-stick size of Land O’Lakes Salted Butter in half-pound packages in February 2006.  The new size will offer consumers a convenient new way to purchase butter.
In August, Fayetteville, Ark.-based Shake’s Frozen Custard served its famous Concrete Treats, which consist of frozen custard lightly blended with various toppings, to construction workers building a new home for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Mo. More than 400 construction crew members of PB2 Companies, based in Rogers, Ark., were served the gourmet dessert while rebuilding a house for Paul and Cyndy Teas, owners of Camp Barnabas, a refuge for young people struggling with illness or physical challenges. With the efforts of 2,000 workers consisting of volunteers and local contractors, the Teas are now living in their new home.
Sorrento Lactalis Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., partnered with trucking company CR England and the Food Bank of WNY to send a truckload of snack cheese and bottled water to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. Sorrento provided 1,650 cases — 26,000 pounds — of individually packaged string, stick and shaped cheeses, while CR England donated the truck, fuel and driver to transport the items. The shipment also included 11 pallets of bottled water that were collected from the public at Eastern Hills Mall. Working through America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network, The Food Bank of WNY coordinated the logistics of distributing products to food banks in the affected states. “Our hearts go out to the victims and families of Hurricane Katrina and we want to help by providing much needed food and water,” says Bob Woeppel, vice president of human resources for Sorrento Lactalis. “We encourage businesses and citizens throughout Western New York to continue the remarkable generosity they have shown during this crisis. We are pleased to be a part of the relief efforts.” This donation continues Sorrento’s tradition of providing cheese to charitable organizations throughout the country.
Wavy Gravy, the iconic ’60s activist and Woodstock emcee, and his eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor are back! The once-defunct flavor was successfully resurrected by Wavy Gravy fans during South Burlington, Vt.-based Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.’s recent online Raise-A-Flavor from the Graveyard campaign. Wavy Gravy is now available at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops across the country for a limited time through Halloween. The ice cream flavor was first introduced in July 1993. Wavy Gravy was two years and hundreds of recipe combinations in the making before finally debuting as cashew and caramel Brazil nut-based ice cream with a hazelnut fudge swirl and roasted almonds. It was fitting, the company says, that the concoction was such a labor of love to honor the peace and harmony that Wavy emulated in the ’60s and continues to instill in children who attend his camp today.