Dairy industry urging milk consumption to avoid mass disposal

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Major dairy firms and convenience store operators are coming up with unique ways to spur consumption of milk in Japan, amid fears that a large amount of raw milk may be discarded over the year-end and New Year period due to a temporary glut.

Production of raw milk, which is influenced by the growth of dairy cows, spiked this year thanks to the cool summer.

On the other hand, consumption dropped due to a decline in demand from many restaurants hit by the novel coronavirus crisis. The slump in demand is expected to become worse in the year-end and New Year period as schools offering milk for lunches close for their winter break.

Despite the supply-demand imbalance, it is difficult for farmers to adjust production volume as dairy cows need to be milked every day to prevent illnesses. “Without any measures, 5,000 tons of raw milk may be discarded at the end of the year,” agriculture minister Genjiro Kaneko said.

The dairy industry is hoping to deal with the situation by not only promoting consumption of milk but also increasing production of butter and cheese, which have relatively longer shelf lives than milk. Megmilk Snow Brand Co. is distributing milk for free along with flyers encouraging consumption of dairy products at places including a Snowbrand Parlor cafe in Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

Morinaga Milk Industry Co. posted recipes such as one for hot milk using condensed milk on its website.

Meiji Co. is promoting the use of milk in Japanese dishes such as stews, saying that “using milk helps to reduce salt and makes food taste richer.” It also released a limited edition cheese using 100% domestic milk.

At its stores across the nation from Saturday to Jan. 3, supermarket operator Ito-Yokado Co. is offering a ¥30 discount for customers who purchase certain milk products together with House Foods Corp.’s “Fruiche,” which can be mixed with milk to make a fruity dessert.

Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. will sell hot milk for ¥65 a cup, or half the usual price, at its stores around Japan on the final day of 2021 and the first day of 2022.

“We want many customers to enjoy it, and not let milk go to waste,” a Lawson representative said.