Fonterra's new packaging – smart solution or answer to a non-problem?

Fonterra's new packaging – smart solution or answer to a non-problem?
Fonterra's new triple-layered milk bottles hit shelves on April 8 in what the company says is its biggest innovation ever.

Fonterra's new triple-layered milk bottles hit shelves on April 8 in what the company says is its biggest innovation ever.

The idea behind the design – the inside and outside layers are opaque white while the black middle layer blocks out 100 percent of light – is to protect milk from light and keep it fresher for longer. (Scientist Michelle Dickinson digs into some of the technical details here.)

Tetra cartons and coloured plastic allow up to 25 percent of light through, which Fonterra says is enough to kick off the process of light damage – "it’s an all or nothing process".

On the other hand, Anchor innovations manager Olaf Van Daalen has told the Herald milk in the new bottles never sees the light and would taste as good at the end of its 15-day shelf life as on day one. Anchor claims research shows that seven out of 10 people prefer the taste of light proof milk, even though the milk going into the bottle hasn’t changed. 

The company cited UK research that found about 7 percent of fresh milk is thrown out because people think it smells 'off'.

(I can't say this has ever been a problem in my household, where milk goes like water – there's only two of us yet we average about a litre a day, and that number would be even higher if cost were no concern.)

Consumers won't see a price rise as a result of the new packaging, which can be reused within New Zealand to create things such as Fonterra Milk for Schools’ recycling bins, which are made from 60 percent recycled milk bottle content.

Group marketing manager Craig Irwin said milk consumption is on the fall (New Zealanders drink on average 1.8 litres of milk each per week) and Anchor hopes to reverse that.

But sceptics on Twitter point out that there might be a better way to achieve that.