How Plastics Revolutionized Milk Packaging

Milk packaging


Wild ancestor of the current cows were called as Aurochs and were domesticated about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago; (Ref) which further evolved into two varieties of domestic cattle breeds – bos indicus and bos taurus. As per records, humans have been consuming milk from past 6,000 to 8,000 years, English and Europeans could be among the first (Ref)

Wild ancestor of the current cows

Global Market (Ref1, Ref2, Ref3, Ref4, Ref5, Ref6, Ref7, Ref8)

  • Global dairy product market (2020): 458.1 billion USD
  • Global dairy product market expected in 2027: 587.5 billion USD at a CAGR of 4.7%
  • USA has the largest market share in the global dairy product of 27%
  • Globally milk market is expected to reach 172.5 billion USD by 2027 at a CAGR of 3.1%
  • Global milk production (2020): 906 million tonnes
  • India dairy product market (2021): 11.3 billion USD and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.4% upto 2026

Graphical data representation depicting cow milk production capacity of top 10 nations is shown in the figure below.

Countries producing highest quantity of milk

India Market (2019)

  • Total dairy industry: INR 7 lakh crore
  • Quantity of milk packaged in polyfilm: 1.5 lakh MT
  • Value of polyfilm used in milk packaging: INR 1600 crores

History of Milk Packaging (Ref9]

The evolution of milk containers is depicted in Figure below.

  • 4000 BC: Earthen wares. They were highly unhygienic and caused many diseases
  • 1860: Metal container: First used in European countries, provided flexibility in handling and also avoided spread of diseases attributed to earthen wares
  • 1884: Glass containers: Was also a hygienic alternative with better aesthetics
  • 1915: Wax coated paper containers: Light weight and easy to pack material. But was prone to easy damage
  • 1963: Plastic containers: Least cost and most hygienic alternative invented by designer Walter Bard
Evolution of milk packaging

How Plastics Revolutionized Milk Packaging [Ref10]

  • Efficient packaging
  • Avoids losses and spoilage
  • Increased demand for smaller, portable and single use packages
  • Affordable
  • Light weight
  • Sterile
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • Durable
  • Recyclable
  • Less energy required in production
  • Reduced transportation cost
  • Customer can see the product
  • Can provide easy evidence of tampering
  • Can be fabricated in varied shapes

Table below provides data of 2019 and that expected in 2025 regarding percentage of milk packaging

Type of Milk Packaging2019 (%)Expected 2025 (%)
Loose Milk6647
Pouch Milk3046
Dairy Whitener35
UHT Milk (tetrapak)12
Condensed Milk (metal)01

Table below provides data of packaging cost involved in various types of packing materials

Type of Milk PackagingPackaging cost (% of MRP)
Metal tin27
Glass bottle20
Plastic bottle15

Table below provides data of packaging weight involved in various types of packing materials

Type of packagingWeight / Litre (g)
Glass bottle650
PET bottle75
HDPE jerry can45
LDPE pouch5



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