Dean 'Chugs' along at Pack Expo 98

Overall attendance at November's Pack Expo reached 78괡, setting a new record. That figure is even more impressive considering that the number of international attendees reportedly declined by nearly 3%, presumably due in part to economic difficulties in Asia.

The biennial show is sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (Arlington, VA).

Visitors attending the Nov. 9 "Eye-opener" session were not only treated to half-pints of Dean's Chug(TM) packs of recently introduced strawberry-flavored milk, but also a presentation by Howard Dean, chairman of Franklin Park, IL-based Dean Foods Co. Dean reported on how the old-fashioned high-density polyethylene milk bottle, full-body polyvinyl chloride sleeve label, and tamper-evident twist-off cap have helped make the single-serve bottles of milk a specialty item, rather than a commodity. That's helped the Chug compete not only with milks, but also against other "transportable" beverages.

Dean said the company invested $90 million in the Chug project. He told the PMMI audience that 1998 Chug sales were expected to reach $82 million. Projections for next year are sales of $105 million; $150 million is the goal for 2000.

Watch for Dean Foods to continue to take advantage of the pack's success. Dean is considering an extended-shelf-life version, which would lengthen life from its current 14- to 22-day span to about 60 days (see Smith Dairy, above). If that happens, Dean would still likely sell the milks refrigerated. Other possible changes include a switch to a PE-based label to alleviate PVC label recycling concerns, and copy in both English and Spanish to meet a booming Hispanic population. Dean said, "We're researching the use of wraparound labels for gallon and half-gallon sizes, and we will likely launch new flavors and enter new geographic markets with Chugs in the future."

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