Despite cutting-edge technology already in motion in the dairy sector, the need for innovation and development initiatives is continuous

By Dr. N.C. Saha, Director & Principal Executive Officer, Indian Institute of Packaging

Dr. N.C. Saha

According to a study carried out by Packaging Machinery Manufactures Institute, (PMMI), USA in 2013, the global milk production is estimated to grow from 692 million tonnes in 2010 to 827 million tonnes in 2020, a 19% increase. The European Union EU-28 (the 28th member of state was added in July, 2013), India and the USA were the largest milk producers in 2010 and are expected to remain the same in 2020. However, it is also highlighted that during the period of 2010 and 2020, the following trend is expected to change:

  • EU-28 share is projected to shrink slightly.
  • Share of India and China are projected to increase.
  • Share of other regions and countries are expected to remain equal.
  • Due to worldwide growth in dairy consumption, nearly all countries / regions are projected to increase their production volumes.

However, another study report revealed that among all, India is the world’s largest producer of milk, accounting for more than 16% of world milk production. At the same time, India is considered to be the largest consumer of dairy products in the world. The total amount of milk produced has tripled from 23 million tonnes back in 1973 to 95 million tonnes in 2008 and it is expected to grow the production level of 135 million tonnes by 2015. However, the projected demand for milk by 2021 – 2022 is estimated at 180 million tonnes, which implies that milk production will have to be doubled.

New Product Formulation

As in any industry, the critical point or the key to remain competitive is product and package innovation. The trend towards consumer leading a healthier lifestyle is sparking a slew of innovative dairy products, protein drinks and extended shelf-life beverages. Nearly half (48%) of the dairy processors are responding to consumer demands for healthier choices with new products that are of:

  • Low fat
  • Fat free
  • Reduced sodium and sugar
  • Lactose free
  • Organic
  • Probiotic culture, fortified with nutrients, calcium and protein

There is also growing awareness among consumers for GMO free (Genetically Modified Organism) dairy products. By adding more natural ingredients, many dairy manufactures are able to simplify their ingredient label – further answering the demand for healthier food products. Packaging is a technique of using the most appropriate contours and components to protect, carry, identify and merchandise any product. It constitutes an important link between the manufacturers and ultimate consumers for safe delivery of the product through different stages of production, storage, transport, distribution and marketing.

Though, great efforts have been made in producing high grade processed milk or manufactured dairy products; unless they are delivered in a fresh, sound and suitable form to the consumers, they are likely to be rejected, thus causing enormous wastage. However, the loss can be offset to a great extent by adequate protective packaging to withstand the hazards of climatic changes, transportation, handling etc.

Role of Packaging for Dairy Products

Dairy products or milk and milk based products are highly perishable in nature. Due to this, fresh milk is required to be processed either by pasteurization, sterilisation or ultra-high sterilisation (UHT) technique in order to achieve the desired shelf-life. However, the processed milk cannot be marketed until the product is packed in containers made of either, flexible or rigid packaging materials. Normally, the milk is processed primarily in the dairy factory and transported either, in bulk or in consumer package. Liquid fresh sterilised milk is normally transported in a refrigerated tanker for a short distance. However, in recent days, the market for processed milk packed in consumer packages is growing.

Current Packaging System for Dairy Products in Consumer Package

The liquid fresh pasteurised milk used to be made available only in 200 ml glass bottle with aluminum caps for distribution in the local market. However, over a period of time, there have been enormous changes in the trend in packaging due to innovations in packaging technology leading to the availability of many options of packaging materials.

Innovation Packaging Concepts for Dairy Product

In recent days, packaging technology has made remarkable innovations for packaging of dairy products by way of introducing many cutting-edge technologies such as:

  • Rigid PP bottles for flavoured milk as a replacement of glass bottles.
  • Cheese spread in laminated squeezable plastic tube for children.
  • Cardboard pulp containers with inner plastic bag, termed as green packs.
  • Introduction of yogurt in a number for containers of 190 gms and 370 gms to attract a special market segment.
  • Cottage cheese in curved bottom thermoformed containers with wide month to enable easy scoop up.
  • Cow shaped milk containers made of HDPE to attract consumers.
  • Project Carton:  A uniquely designed paperboard carton for packaging of UHT milk. The design has an in-built plastic spout to facilitate pouring of milk.
  • Shredded Cheese Stand-up Pouch: This special design of stand-up pouch is more functional as the pouch has zippers for better closing.
  • Milk and Cookies in a Single Container: This particular package enables the brand owner to market single serving portable package made of PET.

India is the largest producer as well as consumer of milk products. Moreover, since the geographical area is so vast, there is a need to develop well priced and innovative packaging technology to enhance shelf-life, make the packages consumer friendly and light in weight (so as to reduce freight cost). The package should have convenience features and attractive graphic in particular sector, the need for innovation is continuous; thus one has to keep up research and development initiatives so as to develop new package designs with alternate packaging materials with optimum cost, thus satisfying the modern consumers.

About Author: Dr. N.C. Saha is the Director and Principal Executive Officer of Indian Institute of Packaging. He is also the secretary general of Asian Packaging Federation (APF), a board member of World Packaging Organization (WPO) and the Chairman of nine sectional committees of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the formulation of national standards on packaging. He has close to 28 years of experience.


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