UHT milk in aseptic bricks: Si Khiu and Thai School Milk Programme

Being a good source of protein, vitamin D and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and potassium, milk is a staple in the diets of children, providing them with all the calories and macronutrients necessary to grow big and strong.

So, it is not without a reason that over the years many countries on a global scale implemented their own kind of “School Milk Program”, i.e. a government-financed project to promote good and healthy nutrition manners for school-age children, while helping out the national dairy market and local milk producers.

Given its key importance in one’s diet, aseptic filling solutions are the best way to pack up milk, making sure that it will stay good in pantries and store shelves over many months at room temperature.

This is why Si Khiu Agricultural Cooperative Limited, a dairy cooperative based in Thailand, chose IPI for the packaging of UHT milk.

School Milk in Thailand: a brief overview

The origins of Milk School Program date bake to 1992, when the project was established by the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to solve the problem of unsold milk among local dairy farmers and, at the same time, support milk consumption among children, thus providing them with the high-value nutrients needed to grow to their full potential.

Of course, not only this project played a crucial role in contributing to adequate intakes of nutrients by toddlers and young kids in Primary and Kindergarten schools, but it also served as a trick to strongly yet efficiently support the Thai dairy industry, by providing a huge and reliable outlet for locally-produced milk.

Further expanded over the years, School Milk is now a vital part of the Thai dairy market, so much so that it actually accounts for more than 30% of the total trade involving liquid milk, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

As per cabinet consensus, since 2003 both UHT and pasteurized milk have been provided daily and, speaking of supply chain, are now finally available in long life bricks for parents to pick them up at school.

Today, all children attending public schools are indeed provided with 200-ml of free milk. Moreover, 60 extra “School Milk Days” have been gradually added to the 200 ones originally scheduled in school calendars, guaranteeing free consumption even over the holidays.

As for the current 2022 year, the committee of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is actually considering to increase those consumption days from 260 to 365 – that is a whole year of free milk supply for children in Primary and Kindergarten classes - and even expanding the quota of School Milk to students in Junior High School as well.

Si Khiu, a dairy cooperative in north-eastern Thailand

Si Khiu is an agricultural cooperative based in the north-east region of Thailand and dedicated to supporting local dairy manufacturers. More specifically, the cooperative operates with three main goals for dairy production:

  • support and train farmers on dairy farming techniques and overall production management.
  • receive raw milk, which is usually collected from cooperative members, and produce good-quality dairy products.
  • promote greater milk consumption in north-east of Thailand while avoiding over-supply and low-selling price problems.

Before 2003, Si Khiu had mainly been supplying one of the major dairy cooperatives active in the country. That year, however, the cooperative was finally allowed, upon committee approval, to build a new plant and start its own dairy production to provide school-aged children in north east Thailand with free milk in 200-ml pouches and bottles.

Sadly, at first production volumes were not big enough to effectively meet the increasing milk demand and, furthermore, the shelf life of such products was too short, especially given Thailand tropical hot and humid climate. That is when Si Khiu decided to go even further and invest in the purchase of an aseptic filling machine for UHT products.

Aseptic filling and sealing treatments, alongside aseptic carton bricks, were indeed the perfect solution for the client’s problems, since they can greatly extend products’ shelf life, providing high quality and minimum microbiological risk, as well as significant efficiency from a logistics and warehouse.

UHT milk in aseptic bricks: Si Khiu and Thai School Milk Programme

IPI’s response to Si Khiu needs – NSA EVO and 200-ml Slim brick

IPI is a leading player in aseptic business, having been providing full roll-fed aseptic systems for more than 40 years all over the world.

In 2012 and 2015, the Italian company installed two NSA EVO aseptic filling machines for UHT milk in 200-ml Slim cartons at Si Khiu production plant, in Sikhio District; since then, the Thai cooperative members have been supplying around 20 tons of raw milk per day, accounting for 100,000 packages on a daily basis.

NSA EVO, IPI’s most popular roll-fed aseptic filling machine, was definitely the perfect match to the customer’s requirements.

Reliable, innovative and user-friendly, NSA EVO is the result of continuous improvement efforts, allowing for effective and efficient aseptic filling processes, even for those who are on a tighter budget. The machine is, indeed, a low-investment solution, with a reasonable and competitive overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), thanks to minimal maintenance costs and utility consumption.

Perfect to deliver consistent aseptic performance from single-serve, portion-packs to family size ones and from regular to premium brick shapes, NSA EVO also stands as an ultra-compact and ergonomic filling machine, which can easily fit in large and small production plants.

Basically, everything Si Khiu was looking for, that is to say, an easy to run yet reliable and cost-effective solution for the packaging of its products.

Of course, the two aseptic fillers also came in with a rich portfolio of trusted and reliable support tools to help the customer with all the activities related to the installation and startup of production of the line, thus providing on-site support through local operators. However, the Italian supplier is also strongly focused on providing excellent remote support services too when needed, thanks to multiple high-end IoT tools.

How Si Khiu faced the COVID-19 outbreak

Si Khiu managed to cope well with the past two past challenging years and turn them into an opportunity: despite school closures and subsequent online learning, the customer actually increased its production to 60 tons per day, making it possible for children to enjoy their free milk at home even when Covid-19 pandemic first hit the country.

So far, Si Khiu distributes about 250,000 200-ml aseptic carton bricks per day and is now looking for a new high-speed aseptic filling machine to support the rising demand for UHT milk in Thai market.

On this matter, it is worth mentioning that IPI can support its clients in their growth journey with multiple, tailor-made solutions, just the FX120 aseptic filling machine: being an innovative filler where mechanical solutions prevail over mechatronic ones, FX120 can pack up to 10.500 cartons per hour, meeting the needs of those who have even more prompt production pace.

Si Khiu:“Going for aseptic liquid carton bricks has been a wise investment decision”

According to Si Khiu Agricultural Cooperative Limited, “going for aseptic liquid carton bricks has been a wise long-term investment decision. Long life cartons protect milk for months, even in Thailand hot and humid weather, and allow us to provide public schools in Sikhio District with healthy and nutritious products.

Being close to us every step of the way, IPI turned out to be a reliable supplier and offered us two NSA EVO filling machines which proved to be just the right fit to our requirements in terms of product quality, maintenance and cost effectiveness.

We are extremely pleased to have entered this partnership, which managed to evolve over the years to meet changing market conditions – even and especially when the demand for local UHT milk began rising -.”

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