Prevailing Plastic

Studies show single-serve bottles continue to boost school milk sales.
As the industry takes what’s hoped to be a short-term hit on the cost of plastic resin, research continues to indicate that school milk in plastic single-serve bottles sells better than their paperboard counterparts, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) reported this past summer.
Consistent with DMI’s School Milk Packaging Sensory Testing Topline Report, significant boosts in milk sales have coincided with the introduction of plastic packaging in retail, commercial foodservice and school settings. In particular, the highly successful School Milk Pilot Test (SMPT), conducted by the School Nutrition Association in the 2000-01 school year, showed an average sales increase of 18 percent when cold, flavored milk in kid-appealing plastic packaging was merchandized visibly on the meal line, a la carte and in vending.
The purpose of this research was to determine if school-age children prefer school milk in plastic or paperboard containers and to find out how children rate milk in plastic and paperboard containers on overall liking, appearance, ease of use, flavor perceptions and other attributes.
School children were shown two school milk containers — a paperboard carton and a plastic bottle — each containing milk of the same brand, flavor and fat level. The youngsters then answered questions about which product they preferred, and additional questions about the flavor, container appearance, container functionality and purchase interest of the two samples. Research was conducted in four markets with four local brands of school milk. In each market, milk products were paired to be identical except for the package type.
Key findings indicated the majority of school children tested said that school milk in the plastic bottle was “better overall” compared to the identical school milk packaged in a paper carton, had “the better container,” was easier to drink from, easier to open, had a better flavor, and were more than twice as likely to say they would choose milk in a plastic bottle over a paper container.
For DMI’s full Topline Report, contact David Pelzer, DMI’s vice president of industry relations, at (847) 803-2000.  Research conducted by Peryam & Kroll Research Corp., Chicago.