Montic Dairy launches ESL milk

Gauteng-based Montic Dairy has taken a big techno leap into the realm of Extra Shelf Life milk, launched in June, and becomes the third dairy in South Africa to enter this arena.

According to Montic’s marketing manager, Donna Allen, the dairy opted for the following technology to achieve ESL and a 21-day shelf life: mechanical removal of micro flora by means of a centrifugal force, normal pasteurisation temperature, an ultra clean filler, packaging with a light protection barrier and bottles that are sterilised with ozone spray prior to packing.

The processing equipment was supplied by GEA, and the ESL filler by Filmatic.

Montic Dairy’s new 30-valve, rinser-filler-capper ESL filler from Filmatic is rated to fill under ESL conditions at capacities of up to 180 2-litre bottles/min and 300 500ml bottles/min. It comprises a bottle rinser using ozone to rinse and sterilise the bottles (with a water recirculating system to save on water consumption), filler, cap rinser (with ozone), pick-and-place capping system with proprietary magnetic clutches and patented flexible cap grippers, a HEPA air system, and a fully automated machine wash-down function to clean external surfaces.

The new bottle design came about after Montic management attended a Nampak Liquid Innovation Day early in 2009 on the lookout for a new two litre, which had to be square to fit into fridge doors and needed to differentiate Montic from its competitors. It’s the only two-litre square bottle with a handle in the centre, and has ribs to strengthen the top and turned-up corners at the base of the bottle to add to the aesthetics. Using Objective Communications’ design work, Afripack Consumer Flexibles–DLC prints the LDPE stretch material label.

About Montic

Montic Dairy was founded in 1984 by Karl Kebert and his family, who remain actively involved in the leadership of the business, and the company endeavours to ensure that only the finest dairy products and freshest milk are worthy of the Montic brand name. Montic offers a wide variety of soft drinks, fruit juices and dairy blended beverages, fresh milk and cream, drinking yoghurt and UHT long-life dairy products, all of which are available through most main retailers.

An modern manufacturing plant and laboratory facilities are located at the company farm, which borders the picturesque Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, only 35km south from the centre of Johannesburg. Montic recently acquired a depot in Silverton, Pretoria, which has enabled to increase its distribution footprint.

Background to ESL milk in SA

In late 2005, Clover set out on this strategic, value-added milk path with the launch of new ESL fresh milk, branded SealFresh, barely a month after one of its smaller rivals, Woodlands Dairy, had similarly come to market on behalf of its key customer, SPAR. Woodlands and SPAR went with Elopak/APV’s Pure-Lac rapid steam-infusion technology that extends life by up to 45 days in resealable two-litre Elopak cartons, while Clover put its faith in Tetra Pak for both the processing and packaging, with the Tetra Top package making its first appearance in South Africa.

With an extended shelf life of production +20 days, Clover has used its technology to open up additional launches: Clover Mmmilk, vanilla-flavoured, ESL milk in August 2007, and less than a year later, another rather more noteworthy ESL milk débutante arrived in retail fridges: Clover Great Taste, No Fat! milk – fat-free milk enhanced with milk peptides that answers many a health-conscious wish for milk with full, indulgent dairy flavour but with all the benefits of fat-free milk. 

What is ESL milk?

Raw milk requires a heat process to ensure microbiological safety plus a reasonable shelf life and minimum processes for heat-treating milk are set out in national legislations. That heat process could be pasteurisation, typically a high temperature-short time (HTST) process of 72-75oC for 15-40 seconds in modern dairies, or commercial sterilisation, which is now almost exclusively an ultra-high-temperature (UHT) process usually in the region of 135-145oC for 2-5 seconds. Pasteurised milk is usually sold as ‘fresh’, has a relatively short shelf life of less than 10 days at chill temperatures, but retains most of the flavour and nutritional value of raw milk. In contrast, UHT processed milk will keep at ambient temperature for at least six months but tends to have a slight ‘cooked’ taste and lower levels of certain vitamins.

In some respects, ESL milk slots neatly in between the two, typically achieving a shelf life of at least 20 days (up to 60 days in some cases), but retaining much of the taste and nutritional attributes of fresh pasteurised milk. There is no current internationally accepted definition for ESL milk, although it can be loosely defined as having a longer shelf life than fresh pasteurised milk under equivalent chilled storage and distribution conditions. There are several different technological approaches for producing that extension in shelf life and the name is something of a blanket term for a range of different products. What they all have in common is the valuable extension to shelf life and the sensory advantages over UHT milk. 

Read more about ESL milk here 

The multiple supply chain benefits of ESL milk

  • •Longer production runs uninterrupted by product changes because of a much longer storage capability.
  • ‘Extended freshness’ gives dairies a much greater distribution reach previously not possible with short shelf-life products –fresh milk can also be distributed from regional distribution centres replacing direct-to-store deliveries.
  • •Broader production of niche milk products as they can be produced on a less frequent basis.
  • •Helps retailers create supply chain efficiencies, improve profitability and decrease out-of-stocks.