Some plastics-related projects are being honored again this year in the National Dairy Council's Global Dairy Innovation Awards. The trade group has a program called the "New Look of School Milk," which involves providing milk in plastic re-sealable bottles. According to the group, more than 6,700 schools across the United States now offer this type of packaging, and they're pleased with the results. For example, St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado "Experienced a 40 percent increase in milk purchases following the introduction of 10-ounce single-serve bottles of white, chocolate, strawberry and orange crème flavored milk, in conjunction with Robinson Dairy." We wrote about this trend last year at NPE.
In a survey conducted for the dairy industry in 2005, 51 percent of school-age children said they would buy milk when it is offered in plastic, compared with 24 percent who said they would buy milk when it is in a cardboard container. Real world pilot tests bear out those numbers, said [Camellia Patey, vice president for school marketing at Dairy Management Inc.] When plastic milk containers were introduced at schools in 2001 and 2002, those schools saw a 22 percent boost in milk sales. Those numbers have continued to remain higher in comparison to cardboard packaged milk, Patey said. Those numbers makes sense, she said. Plastic bottles are easier to open, easier to drink from, recyclable and do not leak. Students appreciate those same benefits — and she added that kids think milk tastes better when it is in plastic. That gives dairy products a better competitive edge against soft drinks and other beverages among middle school and high school students. “With all of the other beverages that are out there, we felt we needed to offer something different,” Patey said.This is a nice success story for the plastics industry, using consumer preferences to fuel additional growth.