Richmond’s Costco stores are the test market for a new generation of milk jugs that could soon replace all that are on the market now and will save the industry ten cents per carton because they’re stackable. I just found this interesting when I looked in the refrigerator and saw the new, oddly-shaped gallon jug. I’ve got to say though, I really like them. Here’s a Richmond Times Dispatch article about the new jugs:
The iconic 1-gallon milk jug is getting a makeover. The streamlined plastic bottles showed up this month at Costco stores in the Richmond area, and they’re causing customers to do a double take in the dairy aisle. At home, people are having to relearn a skill they took for granted — how to pour milk without sloshing or dribbling.
The redesigned jugs are flat on top and have a wide cap at one corner. They pour more like a pitcher than a traditional gallon jug. Because they can be stacked, they save money — about 10 cents a gallon. Early reviews are mixed, which is what Costco experienced in other areas as customers got used to the new bottle. “I like the milk fine,” said A.T. Grady as he picked up one of the new containers at the Costco off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield County, “but I don’t like the jug it’s in. It’s harder to pour out. It’ll drip back down the jug if you’re not careful.”
His wife, Helen, was more willing to give it a chance. “It’s time for a change,” she said. “These milk jugs have been around since the ’60s. I wonder how long it’ll be before they get to the supermarket?” Mary Dennis was glad to hear about the lower cost. “It’s something to get used to,” she said. “If it saves a dime, I’m all for saving.”
Costco has been phasing in the new design since an Ohio dairy presented the idea in 2004, said Sandra Custer, corporate foods buyer at the national Costco office near Seattle. “We saw merit in it. We’ve been slowly rolling it out around the country ever since.” Traditional milk jugs must be loaded onto a metal rolling rack called a bossie cart for shipping. One bossie cart can hold 80 gallon jugs.
The new stackable design can be shipped on a pallet that holds 224 milk bottles. “That’s almost three times as much in a similar display space,” Custer said. “Those bossie carts are often stolen for scrap metal. . . . They have to be hauled back to the dairy. They rust in a cold, wet environment. Now it’s only a one-way haul.” The savings get passed along. In East Coast markets where the new jug has been introduced, customers may have “a little bit of comment at the beginning,” said Jim Stafford, vice president of merchandising for the Northeast market. However, milk sales have remained steady. Designers have been making modifications to the jug based on customer feedback, Stafford said. “We will do another cap at some point in the future. That’s probably a few months out.” From Custer’s viewpoint, there’s something good to be said about the reaction. “It’s certainly got people talking about milk.”