Primary Packaging 101: How to Choose Suitable Milk Bottles for Your Business

Row of milk bottles on a conveyor belt in a dairy processing plant.

As dairy producers, you’re working hard to increase food safety and maximise dairy profits, and one important component of that effort is primary packaging. However, it might be challenging to choose the best options, considering many factors such as material type, container size, and style.

Your packaging should have a sound design and adhere to your budget and environmental guidelines. Analysts say the milk industry is under increased pressure to include the best options as consumers look for practical, user-friendly containers in various sizes, shapes, and materials.

How to Choose a Milk Bottle?


In the past, most milk was produced locally and consumed quickly before pasteurisation. Since it would spoil fast, storage was an unacceptable option. Families would collect it from nearby farms or dairy farms in jugs or cans and use it that day. On the other hand, heat treatment made milk a more commodity and allowed for new packaging possibilities.

Today milk and dairy products are packed using various materials depending on the product type, handling needs, processing and storage conditions, and final use. The most common types of containers are glass and plastic milk bottles, plastic tubs, cans, laminates (multilayer materials), and pouches. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution or excellent or bad packaging material; instead, it all comes down to balancing the packaging’s essential functions and minimal environmental impact.

Current developments point to the development of packaging that contains specific interactions to increase the shelf life, even though it’s normally required for packaging material to be inert and not to interact with the packed dairy product. A concept known as “active, smart, or intelligent packaging” provides this. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the materials bottles used for milk primary packaging are made of.

Glass Bottles

Glass creates easily opened and closed impenetrable containers from sand, soda, ash, and limestone. It is safe for preserving food and beverages because it’s static and is completely recyclable with no quality or purity degradation when recycled in a closed-loop process that produces no new waste or byproducts.

Glass bottles and other containers are either recycled heavily or brought back to be filled in most countries. Desserts, fermented milk, and liquid milk are the primary uses of glass in dairy products. By weight, dairy accounts for about 1% of glass packaging sales in 2019 and 4% of all sales in the “food” category.

Bottle and seal design are the two main factors when choosing glass bottles for your milk (dairy) business. Regarding bottle design, you must consider shape and size carefully for optimised appeal and functionality. Bottle contours such as easy-grip and pour features enhance user comfort and convenience, providing a secure hold and minimising slippage. That’s especially critical when handling wet or cold bottles.

Equal weight distribution ensures balance and stability during storage. Glass milk bottles, whose designs effortlessly incorporate branding elements, are effective brand ambassadors. To enhance visibility and recognition, logos, labels, and imprints are positioned strategically to strengthen brand identity and promote customer loyalty.

Glass bottles’ quality relies heavily on the precise design of their caps and seals, which ensure freshness and purity by creating a secure, airtight barrier. These components prevent leaks, spills, and contamination allowing easy opening and resealing. Advanced sealing technologies, such as induction seals or screw caps, enhance protection against external elements and tampering.

Manufacturers offer various seal designs, from traditional foil to tamper-evident closures, tailored to different market demands. With high-quality materials and cutting-edge technologies, manufacturers ensure the reliability and effectiveness of these seals, maintaining product integrity and consumer convenience.

Plastic Jugs

Oil- or biomass-based plastics come in various specialised types. In addition to polypropylene (PP), polyester (PET), polythene (PE and HDPE), polystyrene (PS), and other lightweight materials are used to make bottles and other lightweight containers.

Plastics are a versatile material in packaging products, combining durability, lightweight construction, stability, simple sterilization methods and the ability to be used in both flexible and rigid applications. For example, food packaging made of plastic doesn’t affect the food’s flavour or quality. They play a vital role in preserving the quality and freshness of food, as they act as a protective barrier against external factors that could contaminate or spoil it.

Moreover, plastic packaging offers convenient options for distribution and storage and is highly resistant to heat, cold, and moisture. Perishable food has a long shelf life thanks to multi-layered plastic films.

Plastic milk jugs, made of the unique material high-density polyethene (HDPE), which can be recycled into various applications, are more appealing to recyclers. Natural HDPE is a strong, adaptable material reclaimed practically everywhere. Repurposed milk jugs can be made into different products, including outdoor furniture, toys, and even more milk jugs. Recyclers prefer these milk jugs due to the increased demand for HDPE plastic.

The Importance of Finding a Reliable Partner


Reliable service, inventiveness, open communication, effective distribution, and various options and raw materials can all be obtained by collaborating with the right supplier. That guarantees that all requirements are satisfied and that there is coordination to offer the most affordable and environmentally friendly solutions while ensuring that the packaging safeguards customers, keeps food fresh, and supports brand promotion. By collaborating with reliable equipment suppliers knowledgeable about particular products and applications, processors can recognise potential operational difficulties.