When given a choice, school-age kids overwhelming pick milk in round plastic containers over paperboard cartons. In fact, the results from a new survey show that 94 percent of school-aged kids pick plastic over paperboard. Their reasons cited include better flavor and easier to open.

The study was conducted by Peryam & Kroll Research Corp on behalf of the National Dairy Council, which is the nutrition/education arm of the dairy checkoff program. A total of 308 school-aged children, grades 4 through 12, in four markets participated in the survey. Each participant was shown a paperboard carton and plastic bottle of the same flavor, graphics, fat level and brand. 

Other key findings include:  

  • 83 percent of school children said that the school milk in the plastic bottle was “better overall” compared to the identical school milk packaged in a paper carton.
  • 86 percent of school children said that the plastic bottle was “easier to drink from.”
  • 67 percent of school children said that the milk in the plastic bottle “had a better flavor” than the milk in the paper carton.

“This study confirms that students see a clear difference between milk served in a paperboard carton compared to a plastic container,” said Rick Naczi, vice president of school channel marketing for NDC. “It’s exciting to see that milk served cold in plastic containers and a variety of flavors helps kids drink more of the milk they need to stay healthy and strong.”

Currently, nearly 1 million students in 1,500 schools across the country are enjoying nutrient-rich milk in cool, trendy plastic bottles. 

This survey helps support why milk should be a part of schools’ changes to give students healthier food and beverage options. President Bush has signed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 into law, requiring every school district in the federal meal program develop its own wellness policy by the fall of 2006. The law requires that goals be set for nutrition education, physical activity, other school-based activities and that nutrition standards be developed for foods and beverages offered on school campuses. 

Milk should be an important part of a school’s wellness policy as school is where many students get much of their nutrition for the day. Studies show that when children drink milk at lunch, they have a higher intake of several important nutrients, including calcium, zinc, potassium and Vitamins A and D.

To learn more about the New Look of School Milk and how it can be part of your school’s cafeteria choices, visit www.NutritionExplorations.org or www.3aday.org

National Dairy Council