Although the glass milk bottle is still the traditional packaging medium for retail milk distribution, single-service paper/plastic containers are increasingly being adopted for the same purpose. A survey has shown that in some European countries they have captured two-thirds of the market. A beginning in this field has also lately been made in India. As far as milk packaging is concerned, paper is a carrier for a water-proof layer of either polyethylene or wax. The provision for 5 to 10 per cent of synthetic fibres is said not to influence the printing or folding capacity of the paper, but rather to provide better wet strength. Dominated, in milk packing, by polylefines (such as polypropylene and polyethylenes), used singly or blended to offer a wide range of materials, plastics have superseded paper in recent times. The polyolefines of interest are coating grades for cartons, film grades for sachets and extrusion/blowing grades for bottles.
Cartons are commonly used for both bulk and retail sale
They are made of combinations of food grade paper and wax or plastics. The distribution advantages of cartons are: maximum space utilization in vehicles and storage, ability to carry attractive printing, and convenience for the purpose of stacking milk on super-market shelves. The carton systems in common use are: Perga (U.K); Pure Pak (USA); Zupack, Blockpack (W.Germany); and Tetra Pack (Sweden). When filling the cartons, either pre-formed or pre-cut blanks may be used. Pre-formed cartons are supplied in a fully erect form ready for filling; in the pre-cut system the blanks are supplied in a knocked down shape and the final carton is set up, formed, filled and sealed on one machine.
Sachets are flexible water-proof bags
Since it is difficult to pour from sachets, they are usually equipped with a jug. The sachet systems in common uses are: Polypack, Bertopack (Switzerland); Finnpack (Finland); Milk Pack, Rotapack (W.Germany); and Prepac (France). Sachet filling of milk usually follows a form/fill/seal system. The sachets are formed from a reeled film over a shoulder and tube-forming sealer. Their size is changed simply by pushing a button without stopping the machine. The relative advantage and disadvantages of paper/film packaging of milk over bottling are given below:
Distribution of milk is the last or final stage of the market milk industry. Others are preparatory to placing the product into the hands of the consumer. The quality of the product alone will not assure its wide distribution, which should be planned and executed intelligently. Distribution facilities consist of;
A successful distribution programme requires;
b) Route organization
This varies with the size and the type of business. In a small plant, the same drivers and trucks may deliver both wholesale and retail goods. In larger organizations, wholesale and retail distributions are usually handled by separate personnel and equipment. Wholesale routes handle larger volumes and have fewer stops than do retail routes. For economical operation, the truck should be utilized for a maximum number of hours per day for milk distribution.
c) Payment of route salesmen
Three different methods are in use:
d) Checking out the routes
Different systems may be used for loading the trucks in checking out the routes. The trucks must be loaded rapidly so that the drivers are not delayed at loading stations. The principal systems are:
This consists of verifying the drivers count of empty bottles and unsold goods and conveying the bottles to the washers or to storage. The driver usually places the bottles on the platform, coveyor or platform-trolly.
These include (for both wholesale and retail sales) the following:
This is usually based on past experience, taking into consideration holidays, fairs and festivals, special events, etc.
h) Frequency of distribution
Due to highly changeable temperatures during most seasons and the lack of refrigeration facilities at the average customers home in India the milk has to be distributed twice daily. Viz., morning and evening. In cold countries, one-time delivery is usual.
i) Utilization of returned milk
Unsold milk presents a problem of economic disposal. Under tropical conditions, as in India, the returned milk should not be sent again for sale as liquid milk since exposure to high temperatures during its inward and outward journeys subject it to quality deterioration and hence may cause consumer complaints. The unsold milk can be given for separation or utilized for preparation of dahi, etc.
These are credit, cash or advance payment (coupon/ monthly card).