Thursday, May 23, 2024

Changing consumer habits could spell the end of bagged milk

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Some experts suggest bagged milk could disappear from store shelves in the next few years.

Milk is sold in bags in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, but it could be approaching its expiry date. Part of the reason is changing consumer habits.

“Consumption of milk per capita has gone down every year over the last 30 years,” says Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Actually, it’s gone down by more than 20 per cent since 2015.”

There is a plethora of non-dairy based alternatives to classic dairy milk these days.

“We believe that it is highly likely that bagged milk will disappear within the next decade or so,” Charlebois says.

While bagged milk is often cited as a unique Canadianism, it’s actually not sold west of Ontario. Those who prefer it, however, say it’s more cost efficient and some even believe it tastes better.

What about the cows?

If demand for milk is on the decline, is that hurting the dairy industry? Some farmers don’t think so.

Scott Connell, part-owner of Locus Lane Farms, east of Brockville, says the more demand there is for milk, the more he has to spend to feed his cows.

Cows at Locus Lane Farms in Brockville, Ont. (Jack Richardson/CTV News Ottawa)

“Back when my great grandfather was here, I mean we milked 12 or 13 cows, even when my grandfather came along as a hired man, and now we’re milking 120. So we’ve had to increase our production just to stay with the times,” he said.

Experts say that while the change isn’t going to be immediate, bagged milk drinkers will have to adapt one day.

“You can survive without bagged milk,” says Charlebois.

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