The innovation is unique in China and on the international dairy market, according to Bai Ying, the vice-president of the Mengniu dairy firm, which has developed the new milk products with Europe's SIG. Specialists from both firms have spent the last year working on the project, entitled 'pieces of fruit'. Their work shows how China's dairy market is not only growing rapidly in consumption terms, but also expanding its range of products. "SIG Combibloc's unique, flexible filling technology means we can put even chunky products in the aseptic carton packs," said Ying. Products come in strawberry, peach, coconut and Aloe Vera varieties, and are offered in CombiblocMini 250ml cartons with a drinking straw. SIG adapted its CFA 112-32 high-speed filling machine, which has a maximum output of 12,000 packages per hour, for the pieces of fruit project. Markus Böhm, Chief executive of SIG Combibloc China, said: "Each package sleeve is individually shaped, sterilised and filled on the filling machines at the customer's premises. He added that the top of each carton pack is ultrasonically sealed above the filling level - and not through the product - only after the product has been filled. UHT milk containing pieces of real fruit may provide a lucrative new line of added value products for the dairy industry, combining consumer demands for health and convenience. "We firmly believe that, with this development, we are offering a product concept that will bring a whole new impetus to the international UHT milk market," said Böhm. Products will be distributed in all major Chinese cities, and aimed primarily at young women. It was unclear whether or how soon products may appear outside of China. Mengniu has increased its links abroad recently, however. It signed a joint venture in China with French dairy giant Danone in December.