Delivering for dairy (sidebar)

Custom bottle helps launch Oberweis Dairy into single-serve milks

Pw 16845 Loony Tunes

By calling 1-888-MILK-TO-U, Oberweis Dairy consumers can order milk in ½-gal glass bottles for home delivery. While Oberweis cherishes that tradition, its new line of 12-oz single-serve fresh milks filled on a new packaging line is anything but old fashioned.

In August, the North Aurora, IL-based dairy introduced single-serve milks (and half-and-half and lemonade) in 12-oz polyethylene terephthalate bottles. The bottles provide the portability, reclosability, and graphic appeal to compete better at retail with other beverages.

“We’ve had a lot of people asking for our products in a single-serve container,” notes Mark Leonardelli, vice president of sales and marketing for Oberweis. “But our milks have been in glass for many years, primarily because our customers believe that taste is better preserved in glass. We considered glass for single-serve milks, but decided against it because of factors related to convenience, handling, and all of the issues that give plastic an advantage.

“We sell super-premium-quality milk, so we could not compromise taste in our packaging decision,” he continues. Oberweis conducted limited taste testing of its own milk brands with consumers. When consumers knew what materials were used for the test, they chose glass containers first. However, PET fared well enough that the dairy selected it for its single-serve milk launch.

‘Looney’ launch

Oberweis found an appropriate supplier in QDC Plastic Container (Lansing, MI). “They’re well-known in the dairy industry,” says Leonardelli. QDC injection/stretch blow-molds the 38-mm, 22-g bottles from preforms manufactured by an unidentified company.

“The bottle shape is unique to Oberweis,” he adds. “We had a special mold customized for us. It’s an expensive container, but we liked its appearance, and that it’s easy for children to hold.”

The bottle’s handling qualities are especially important since Oberweis first used it to introduce a new line of five flavored milks (shown) for children (see Packaging World, Oct. ’01, p. 10, or packworld.com/go/oberweis). These bottles are shrink-sleeve labeled with colorful graphics of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes cartoon characters.

Each 2-mil heat-shrink polyvinyl chloride label is printed gravure in 10 colors by Seal-It (Farmingdale, NY). Labels are color-coordinated to match their respective closures, which are injection-molded of low-density polyethylene by International Plastics & Equipment (New Castle, PA). The screw-on caps include a tear-away band for tamper evidence.

The Looney Tunes beverage line is marketed under an unusual licensing arrangement. For more information about this arrangement, visit packworld.com/go/licensing. At this Web location are photos from Oberweis’s facility. Included is an image of U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Speaker of the House, taken during a late-August reception at the plant in his honor. The event served to introduce the single-serve Looney Tunes beverages.

Promising future

Leonardelli projects that the same bottles could also be used for Oberweis-brand fat-free and 2% milks. “And we’re looking at introducing another line of Oberweis-brand flavored milks for adults in this bottle,” he notes.

For now, Leonardelli says the new bottle gives Oberweis an opportunity to sell in markets it could not reach with previous packages. “We really didn’t have a good package selection for convenience stores, vending machines, or schools,” Leonardelli realizes. “Our only container was a half-gallon glass bottle. The new plastic bottle gives us opportunities to sell at locations beyond the grocery stores and our 20 Oberweis retail stores in the Chicago area.

“We’re talking to convenience stores, and trying to get the milks into vending machines, perhaps at businesses or schools,” he continues.

The 12-oz bottles for the five Looney Tunes flavors and for the Oberweis-brand lemonade, chocolate milk, and half-and-half are currently sold throughout Illinois and St. Louis. Suggested retail prices range from 99¢ to $1.50. The refrigerated milks have an 18-day shelf life from date of manufacture.

“They’re doing pretty well in the market,” observes Leonardelli. “The new bottle and our new packaging line present us with a lot of exciting opportunities for the future.”

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