Square Costco Milk Jugs Continue to Annoy Shoppers


I only buy organic milk in the half-gallon cartons that are 3 to a box, so I don’t have any experience with Costco’s gallon jugs, but here’s another person unhappy with them:

So impossible to pour . . . I get at least half of it on the floor, table and side of the carton every time I pour it.

This New York Times article from back in June talked about the hassle of this jug, but also about its upside:

The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.

Early one recent morning, the creators and producers of the new tall rectangular jugs donned goggles and white coats to walk the noisy, chilly production lines at Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio. It was founded in 1922 by a man who was forced to abandon the brandy business during Prohibition. Five generations of the founder’s family, the Soehnlens, have worked there.

Today, they bottle and ship two different ways. The old way is inefficient and labor-intensive, according to members of the family. The other day, a worker named Dennis Sickafoose was using a long hook to drag plastic crates loaded with jugs of milk onto a conveyor belt.

The crates are necessary because the shape of old-fashioned milk jugs prohibits stacking them atop one another. The crates take up a lot of room, they are unwieldy to move, and extra space must be left in delivery trucks to take empty ones back from stores to the dairy.

They also can be filthy. “Birds roost on them,” said Dan Soehnlen, president of Superior Dairy, which spun off a unit called Creative Edge to design and license new packaging of many kinds. He spoke while standing in pools of the soapy run-off from milk crates that had just been washed. About 100,000 gallons of water a day are used at his dairy clean the crates, Mr. Soehnlen said.

But with the new jugs, the milk crates are gone. Instead, a machine stacks the jugs, with cardboard sheets between layers. Then the entire pallet, four layers high, is shrink-wrapped and moved with a forklift.

The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80.

I’m sure you noticed that Sam’s Club is using them, too, and it sounds like you’ll be seeing them more often in the future, so get used to them. In case you need a lesson on how to pour without spilling, one last bit from the New York Times:

“Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly,” Ms. Tilton said to passing customers as she talked about the jugs’ environmental benefits and cost savings. Instead of picking up the jug, as most people tend to do, she kept it on a table and gently tipped it toward a cup.

Mike Compston, who owns a dairy in Yerington, Nev., described the pouring technique in a telephone interview as a “rock-and-pour instead of a lift-and-tip.”

There you go. Now you have to be taught how to pour milk.


19 responses to “Square Costco Milk Jugs Continue to Annoy Shoppers

  1. In fact, I prefer Costco’s milk packaging to those from regular supermarket. The opening is sealed and the plastic is thicker. I have never spilt the milk, at most a drop. 🙂

  2. Captain Packrat

    I, too, prefer Costco’s milk containers. They are slightly skinnier than traditional milk jugs, so they take up less space on the refrigerator shelf.

  3. Whoever in management that came up with this idea should be fired. IDIOT

  4. I find myself completely incapable of pouring from this stupid jug without spilling all over the place. But we are stuck with it until or unless there is a big enough backlash that people stop buying, which I predict isn’t going to happen. Especially not at $1.68/gal.

  5. I just did a Google search, confident that there was a spout for the Costco milk jug that I failed to get on my first trip to Costco. Am I surprised to find that the jug is just the jug–that there is no spout. We spilled milk on the floor, counter, drips down the jug, mess after mess. I will never buy this product again. It is not that I need a lesson on how to pour milk–the product is defective.

  6. Why is this still on the market? Creative Edge Failed…get an Engineer not a Finance Major to design blow molded bottles….what a joke! Will never buy again – COSTCO cut bait,
    Signed – Old Plastic bottle designer

  7. After opening my second jug and finding it poured as poorly as the first, I realized there is a simple solution: pay a couple extra pennies, buy milk from the supermarket–where they use civilized jugs, and eliminate the problem. Too bad Costco; milk is one of the few products that would have prompted more frequent trips and more money in your coffers. In the long run, I’m guessing I’ll save money …. less gas and fewer “spur of the moment” purchases.

  8. The new Magic Tap Automatic Beverage Dispenser is the PERFECT solution for pouring this unwieldy square jug. Check it out at http://www.themagictop.com.

  9. Watch this video to see the Magic Tap Automatic Beverage Dispenser in action with Costco’s square jug : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io_JOGJ-43k

  10. All you have to do is pour it like an oil bottle. When it’s full, don’t try to pour it with the opening straight down. Turn the jug so the opening is up and to the side…..Using the picture above you would hold it so the opening and handle were parallel to the counter instead of perpendicular to it. Once you get the first quart out it pours fine with the opening straight down.

  11. OR get the SQUARE JUG CAP http://www.squarejug.com/ . I got it in the mail today. So simple. Dishwasher safe flip top and spout for the square milk jug at Costco and Sam’s Club. About 3 for $10. No straws or tubes that are hard to clean.

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  13. Terrible design, I have to remember to pour the milk over the sink because it spills and drips. I hope COSTCO finds a new supplier and drops this style square milk jug. Sam’s Club did!

  14. I’m sick of cleaning the mess. Have to clean the counter top, side of the glass and the milk container each time. Thankfully, no more reason to buy Kirkland milk anymore as the local deli’s in my area now sell the traditional style gallons of milk 10 cents cheaper.

  15. Linda G. Schiess

    My problem is with the larger cap and not enough room to grip it with all my fingers. 74, carpel tunnel, and, yes, weaker fingers and hands, very frustrating to get it opened this morning. Will buy elsewhere. I have my husband, but I do like doing some things myself. And he’s not always by my side. Have to use knife to get seal off too. Bad ideas Costco,

  16. Judith Wilhelm

    I should not have to use tools to open a gallon of milk!!! The inside seal is impossible to remove without having to fetch a sharp tool – DANGEROUS!! The cap is too close to the top part of the bottle, my fingers don’t fit in between, and I have small hands. The handle is not well placed, puts too much stress on my wrist. and besides that, it is UGLY !!!! COSTCO PLEASE STOP THIS AT ONCE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Indeed very difficult to open these milk bottles. Please redesign.

  18. Frank Ciasullo

    i just purchased milk fro costco, i had to use a tool to open the cover them i could pull the seal off without a knife to cut it open. who ever designed this container should be fired.

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