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Natrel nets 30-day shelf life

A 30-day shelf life for fresh refrigerated milk?

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That's what Canadian dairy Natrel achieves for its 1- and 2-L packages of Ultra'milk(TM). The Longueuil, Quebec, firm launched the new product last October. Milk is sold in SPOUT-PAK® screw-cap gabletop cartons from International Paper (Memphis, TN). Ultra'milk is filled in one plant but marketed throughout the province of Quebec, so the extended shelf life comes in plenty handy. It's possible, says Diane Jubinville, Natrel's public relations director, thanks to the combination of special filling equipment from Evergreen Packaging Equipment (Cedar Rapids, IA) and a "double centrifuging" process from APV Canada (Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada) that removes bacteria prior to pasteurization. Natrel is the first dairy in Canada to use SPOUT-PAK, and the first North American company to use the double centrifuging process. The centrifuging literally spins cream out of the milk in a first cycle and then in a second cycle it removes 99% of the bacteria. The liquid is then ready to be filled into polyethylene/paperboard/PE cartons that incorporate a pour spout made of a PE base and polypropylene cap. Carton blanks are formed and filled at Natrel's Quebec City plant at 120/min. An Evergreen EH-1 machine handles the 2-L size, an EQ-5 the 1-L size. Both machines include a spout applicator that ultrasonically welds the spout onto the inside of the die-cut blank prior to filling. The filling equipment also uses hydrogen peroxide sterilant on carton interior surfaces and HEPA-filtered air within the filling area. Touches like these keep the milk fresh for 30 days, considerably longer than the 18 days common for pasteurized milk, according to Natrel. Ultra'milk is sold in chocolate, skim, 1%, 2% and homogenized varieties. Compared to a conventional gabletop carton, says Jubinville, there is a 7¢ upcharge at retail for the 1-L size, 12¢ for the 2-L. But studies taken before the Ultra'milk introduction indicated consumers were willing to pay for the easy-to-open-and-reclose carton if it became available.

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