VEGA News Item

Pouches and Bottles for Sales of Milks - 27/04/2010

Supermarkets' Different Experiences

1. Waitrose has withdrawn an "eco friendly" milk pouch and jug from all its stores after poor sales of the supposedly revolutionary product resulted in wastage. Initially strong sales tailed off because shoppers showed strong preference for the convenience of conventional plastic bottles - even though they are slightly more expensive. A pouch contains 75% less plastic than the bottles in which at least two-thirds of the 1000 million pints of milk consumed by Britons every week is sold. Less energy is used in making them and they take up less space when disposed of. However, many consumers found them difficult to use.

2. Bagged milk has been successful in other countries, overwhelmingly in Canada.

3. Bottles have been the preferred milk container in Britain since 1880, when they were introduced - originally in glass - by the Express Dairy Company. Glass, and later plastic, has dominated ever since, except for a period in the 1970s when cardboard TetraPak containers had forced their way into the market. Among the products taking advantage of this innovation were soya milks, for which stiff plastic washable containers were made to prevent losses through squeezing when liquid was poured out of nearly full cartons with early designs of tops.

4. In contrast to Waitrose, Sainsbury has achieved success with its nationwide introduction in March this year of milk bags. In a successful trial in 50 stores its sales of the bags rose to about 110,000 per week and now account for one in every 10 two-pint containers of semi-skimmed sold. Sainsbury's hope to reduce packaging by one-third by 2015; switching to bags could save up to 1.4 million kg of packaging each year.

5. We in VEGA give credit to Sainsbury's for the introduction some years ago of the square tin (for soups, tinned beans etc): loss of space in the packing was achieved but popularity was not realized for various practical reasons. Nonetheless, signs of innovation and experimentation in the supermarkets are welcomed, especially when they exhibit change and respect for the environment, as well as for the contents of the containers.


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