The first time I saw milk in a bag was in a Ukrainian grocery store across the street from my host mom’s Soviet block apartment building. In Ukraine, a small milk bag is called a packet. In Ukraine, you don’t go to the store for a carton of milk, you go to the store for a packet of milk. At first, I thought that the packet of milk was a dumb idea. The milk did not stand up in the refrigerator, like a carton, and once opened with a pair of scissors, it could not be closed again. The packets were small. The standard size bag could hold about 3 soup cans worth of milk. The packet was made of a thick plastic-feeling material that, if positioned in just the right way, could balance upright in the refrigerator.
I lived in Ukraine for two years with packets of milk. Along with the milk packets, I lived with sour cream in a bag, yogurt in a bag, and pudding in a bag. These bags were much cheaper to produce and produced much less garbage compared to milk cartons and plastic containers, but they’re not ready for American grocery store shelves. The bags cannot easily stand upright, which does not allow for a brand advertising to be displayed prominently on the product. Also, Americans buy in relatively large quantities. If the milk container cannot be resealed, then the milk could spoil faster. It’s probably safe to say that the average American consumer is not ready to purchase their milk products in plastic bags. Is there another way to package products at a lower cost and provide the same benefits to the American consumer?
American condiments are commonly sold in easily squeezable plastic bottles with a resealable cap. In Ukraine, condiments came in pouches with twist off caps, similar to the cap on a tube of toothpaste. Condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, tartar sauce, and mustard are all sold in the same type of pouch. When filled, the condiment pouch stands upright displaying the brand prominently on the shelf. The pouch can be easily sealed after each use. After all of the condiment is used, the pouch is as flat as a piece of paper. Think about all of the waste that could be reduced if our condiments came in flat pouches rather than plastic bottles and containers.
The maker of these pouches is Nestle, an international Swiss food and drink company. Nestle, the American consumers are ready for the condiment pouch.