Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Gisele Gurgel, global director of Tetra Pak's DIP unit, said that underfilling and reducing the size of packs enables manufacturers in emerging markets to ensure profitability while maintaining the low prices locals can afford.
Over a four-year period, for example, Indonesian milk brand Real Good downsized by 10ml at a time from the 100ml Tetra Fino Aseptic (TFA) carton to the 70ml TFA.
This move, according to Tetra Pak, has enabled Real Good to ensure profitability while maintaining an affordable price of 1,000 Indonesian Rupiah (US$0.08, €0.07).
Elsewhere, manufacturers maintain pack sizes but underfill them to reduce product cost.
Tetra Pak's DIP unit was established in October 2012 to drive growth in the US$2-8 (€1.60-6.45) per day income segment, which in 2010 incorporated 2bn consumers across 67 countries. By 2020, this figure is expected to fall to 1.5bn.
Today's DIP consumers are tomorrow's middle class, says Tetra Pak. It believes the brands DIP consumers have access to today will influence what they purchase in future.
These actions will provide Tetra Pak and its customers a "competitive advantage" as consumer spending power increases in these markets, said Gurgel.
"Consumers are loyal to packaging and brands," she said. "It will give us and them a competitive advantage in the future."
Sao Paulo-based Gurgel and her team spent much of last year visiting developing dairy markets, including China, Haiti, Nigeria, Brazil, and Indonesia, to carry out field research.
Speaking directly with consumers and shopkeepers in these countries is essential to understand the unique challenges of each market, said Gurgel.
"Depending on what we need to do we spend between three days and two weeks there," she said.
In most markets, consumers tend to opt for smaller pack sizes, she said.
In some DIP markets, however, this gravitation towards small, individual packs isn't as prevalent.
"Consumers in many markets share small purchase power," she said. "That's where these smaller packs play a large role."
"These consumers don't have the money to buy a one litre pack, but they can afford to buy a 250ml carton."
"But in my country, Brazil, they buy large format because they know they will make a saving if they buy a litre and a half carton."
"It all depends on the market," Gurgel added.