MILK SALES ARE CHUGGING ALONG WITH PLASTIC CONTAINERS

OAK BROOK, Ill. (FNS) -- Dean Foods' plastic Milk Chugs containers are accomplishing what industry advertising has not: generate growth in the overall milk category, according to the company's recent research.In markets where Chugs are sold, the total milk category is up 2.2%, compared to a category decline of 0.8% in markets without Chugs, David Rotunno, director of marketing and advertising for

OAK BROOK, Ill. (FNS) -- Dean Foods' plastic Milk Chugs containers are accomplishing what industry advertising has not: generate growth in the overall milk category, according to the company's recent research.

In markets where Chugs are sold, the total milk category is up 2.2%, compared to a category decline of 0.8% in markets without Chugs, David Rotunno, director of marketing and advertising for the dairy, told a recent meeting of the Merchandising Executives Club of Chicago.

The strongest difference, he said, is in sales of pint-size chocolate milk, with those sales up 10.5% in markets without Chugs, compared to an 86% sales gain in market with Chugs.

Dean's own 1998 sales results for the Chugs resealable bottles -- developed and introduced two years ago -- are also strong, Rotunno said.

The dairy's sales of white and chocolate milk combined are ahead 36% for quart sizes and 83.4% for pints. For chocolate milk only, pint sales are up 203% and quart sales are up 231%.

Dean's consumer research on Chugs shows about 56% of the customers buying Chugs are repeat purchasers and 35% had not bought Dean's milk before. About 25% say they are drinking more milk than in the past, and 29% say the Milk Chugs replace other beverages.

The dairy, which has patented the Chugs bottle and cap, is now targeting its distribution efforts on convenience stores to reach men and teens, and on marketing multipacks, Rotunno said.