Dairy giant Fonterra has launched a "world-first" bottle that it says will protect milk from light and keep it fresher and tasting better for longer.
The triple-layer bottle technology developed over three years was the first packaging of its kind for fresh milk and cream, and was a "game changer" for the dairy industry, said Fonterra managing director of brands Peter McClure said at the launch in downtown Auckland today.
"This is absolutely without a doubt Fonterra's biggest innovation yet."
The 100 per cent lightproof bottle is made up of white, black and white layers, made from the same recyclable material as existing plastic bottles.
Taste and freshness were the biggest drivers of consumers' milk choice and research showed many used the "sniff test" to check milk was still fresh before the expiry date.
Research showed about 7 per cent of all fresh milk was thrown out "because people think it smells off", said Fonterra group marketing manager of brands Craig Irwin.
Packaging such as tetra cartons and white see-through bottles allowed 7-25 per cent of light through, he said.
Milk starts spoiling as soon as it was exposed to light. The difference could be detected six minutes after it was exposed to sunlight and in two hours in fluorescent light.
As soon as milk was exposed to light it started to breakdown and produce free radicals, a process which started before it reached consumers' fridges.
"Light damage is a process that can't be reversed and once started does not stop impacting its taste. This triple-layer protection will stop this happening," said Mr McClure.
"All these reactions are never kicked off because it never sees the light and the milk retains its shelf life," Anchor innovations manager Olaf Van Daalen said.
Consumers could expect the product to taste as good at the end of its 15-day shelf life as on day one, he said.
While the new packaging cost more than existing bottles to produce, consumers would not be paying more for them.
Feedback on the product had been positive so far, with baristas saying the milk was easier to texture and stretch when it was very fresh and it had a better taste.
Mr McClure said it was hoped the development would encourage Kiwis to drink more milk, as figures showed consumption had dropped.
New Zealanders drink on average 1.8 litres of milk each per week.
Television ad campaigns for the lightproof bottles for milk and cream start on Sunday, and the products will be on shelves from April 8.
- APNZBy Abby Gillies Email Abby