It is not the same old milk bottle your grandmother washed.

It is not even the plastic-coated carton you empty and toss every day.

The dairy industry's sizzling new container is single-serve, available mostly in convenience stores, to a lesser degree in supermarkets, and moving fast into delis, vending machines and schools.

Holding 16 ounces, the plastic container is one of several new products that just might make people--especially the young--want to drink more milk.

"It is cool to chug milk from one of these bottles, especially when it is icy cold," says Lynn Holly, advertising, marketing and promotion director for Western Dairyfarmers' Promotion Association.

How cool is it? When three of Colorado's major milk processors--Meadow Gold, Sinton's and Robinson's--joined Holly in a pilot study in convenience and retail stores, they saw milk sales climb 14 to 25% in groceries and up to 25% in convenience stores. "Chocolate milk was a favorite, but sales of whole and 2% milk also increased," Holly reports.

"The study wasn't only about single-serve containers," Holly adds. "We were also measuring the impact of new portable, insulated barrels that keep the milk cold, in locations that make it convenient and inviting for shoppers to serve themselves."

"The coolers were placed in the deli area, a new place for milk," said Holly. "Although the single-serve containers have been out for about a year, a lot of people didn't know about them. Deli shoppers might not make it over to the dairy case."

Holly has been introducing the barrel coolers to the Rocky Mountain foodservice community this spring. Painted with Holstein spots and the familiar got milk? slogan, the Flotation Cold Barrels are easily recognizable. The milk bottles are packed in ice, and as the ice melts, a unique float design rises to keep the milk above the water. This avoids drips on the floor when the customer pulls out a container of milk, along with helping to ensure product rotation.

Another line of portable coolers is being introduced in school cafeterias. Instead of ice, the school coolers use interlocking cold cells to keep milk icy cold. Icy cold is an important key to student milk-drinking, says Sue Calkins, Western Dairy Council school food service program director. "Our surveys reveal that one of the great hindrances to milk-drinking is that the milk was a few degrees too warm by the time the youngsters picked it up."

Calkins is in the midst of offering discounts on coolers to schools, through her Coupons for Coolers program. She recently gave 100 coolers to schools through Operation Cold Milk, a now-completed program. Dairy farmers are so enthused about the new coolers that some are purchasing them for their neighborhood schools. The coolers cost about $150.

The coolers are manufactured by Decision Point Marketing, Winston-Salem, NC. Anyone interested in more information should contact Lynn Holly, 303-451-7721.

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