Back to the future: as part of a trial, Cola-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) is offering doorstep delivery of 1-liter glass bottles of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in the UK – and will also take away any empties provided there. It’s the old milkman model that’s enjoying a revival. It shows how intensive the search for reusable solutions is in the FMCG sector. The sticking points for the “milkman model” in the long term are the standardization of the bottles and the speed of rotation. The potential plus points include not only the sustainability aspect but also the potential for brand loyalty and increased sales.
The trial by Cola-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) for direct delivery, return, refill and reuse has been running in cooperation with the English company “Milk & More” since June 5 and is designed to run for eight to twelve weeks. Geographically, the trial is limited to south London and the center of southern England.
The “milkman model”
Until the 1980s, it was common practice in England to have milk in glass bottles delivered directly to the front door every morning. The washed empty bottles were also left on the doorstep and taken away with the next delivery. In 1970, it was estimated that about 99 percent of milk was delivered to consumers in this manner. By the turn of the millennium, this figure had dropped to almost zero. The main reason for this development was the price advantage of supermarkets.
Milk & More
- Coca-Cola’s partner “Milk & More” looks back on a more than 130-year tradition of delivering milk to the doorstep.
- According to the company, more than 1,000 employees now deliver to around 400,000 households nationwide, and its range includes organic and standard milk, alternative milk, fruit juices, water and soft drinks – all in returnable glass bottles.
- In total, the company has more than 80 million units of “zero waste” packaging produced annually.
- 97 percent of sales are attributable to reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging.
- Milk & More has belonged to the German Müller Group since 2016, within which it has operated as an independent company since 2022.
- According to Cola-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), the process of washing, refilling and reusing can be done up to 20 times.
- This is said to reduce the carbon footprint by 82 percent compared to single-use glass bottles.
- The use of electric delivery vehicles is expected to result in 10 million kilometers of electric travel per year, with a focus on renewable energy sources.
Sticking points for the future
It is quite clear that the search for reusable solutions in the FMCG sector is unbroken. The fact that CCEP is just starting its pilot in England has to do with the firmly established and long-learned tradition of the milkman’s solution there. It is clever and logical to launch the trial in such an environment. Possible sticking points:
- In the long run, it will be crucial to use standardized bottles or packaging for expansion to other applications.
- In addition, the “speed of rotation” will become an important factor. Milk is consumed in many households on a so to say-daily basis and is accordingly turned over “on the doorstep”.
The milkman model definitely earns CCEP points in the area of sustainability. And it fits in with the company’s reusable strategy, which has already seen over 40 million euros invested in infrastructure for refillable bottles in Germany alone.
But plus points can also accrue in the area of brand loyalty. Coca-Cola may even be able to increase its sales in this way.