Milk sales halted for six weeks
Reporter Rexine Hawes turns back the pages of the Chronicle for our Back in the Day Series.
For six solid weeks in 1989, not one carton of milk was sold in Matamata, with the Matamata Chronicle reporting cartons were ‘‘gathering dust in supermarkets and dairies’’.
This reportedly came after a swing towards plastic milk bottles which actually saw a shortage of plastic containers.
Matamata milk vendors and the Tauranga Milk Company agreed they felt the reason behind the stall in sales was due to a suggestion that traces of the fatal chemical dioxyn had been found in carton material, which scared the public away from the product.
This in turn halted sales entirely as retailers were hesitant to take on the dairy product.
Marketing manager for Tauranga Milk Company Kaye Spence said cartons were ‘‘fully available but retailers throughout Tauranga/Thames Valley area are reluctant to take them because they won’t sell’’.
The popularity of the plastic container meant the Tauranga Milk Company was forced to pro- duce less of its 1-litre fruit juice, to meet demand for milk containers.
The demand was soon met and Spence said the issue was not likely to be repeated.
This report in the Chronicle came after another front page article on April 24 which said that 10 per cent of the plastic milk bottles made by the Tauranga Milk Company leaked.
Plastic bottles replaced glass on April 1, 1989.
This was caused by a small gap introduced during the cap crossthreading process, which caused leaks during the transport and handling process.
Irena Leadbeater of Tower Discounts said she had to clean leaked milk from the shop floor and fridge every morning.
She couldn’t see an easy solution, as tightening caps only made it harder for the consumer to un-do.
Spence said the company didn’t expect vendors to check every bottle of milk for crossthreading prior to delivery.
She said adding factory personnel at the capping machine to ensure caps went on properly produced good results.
Only a few defective bottles got past the scrutiny of the extra staff.