Where Have all the Milk Men Gone?
It wasn’t so long ago that the sight of a milk float going up and down the roads in the early hours of the morning was a familiar one. How times have changed, though! Many people can’t remember the last time they saw a milk float, and not many people at all have their milk delivered to their door step by a milk man.
Where have they all gone?
There are several different reasons why milk men have all but disappeared from our streets, and the first is in the way that milk itself is processed. In the past, milk had a far shorter shelf life than it does now, and it was necessary to have a new bottle every couple of days. Hence, the milk men would deliver this on a set schedule. Nowadays though, milk lasts a lot longer than it did before, and it is quite possible to buy a week’s supply at the supermarket with the weekly shop.
The supermarkets are the second reason that milk men have disappeared. Although they offer the consumer convenience in the sense that all the week’s grocery shopping can be done in one place, it does mean that people started to abandon using a milk man. In addition to this, the supermarkets put a lot of pressure on the dairy industry to reduce prices, making it cheaper to buy from them than a milk man.
After all, who would buy something that is more expensive when they do not need to? This has also had a detrimental effect on dairy farmers. The prices that the supermarkets are buying at are extremely low, and some dairy farmers end up selling their milk at a loss. Why do they do this? Because there is just no alternative, and although efforts have been made to negotiate better prices, there is still a long way to go.
The power of the supermarkets is virtually uncontrolled, and has helped to lead to the virtual decimation of the milk delivery industry. Hopefully it will not be too late for the dairy industry in general. The supermarkets in their greed have greatly harmed the dairy industry under the guise of ‘customer service’, as they have with butchers and fruit and vegetable shops. Single-handedly, they have transformed the look of the high street, as these small shops have been driven out of business.
As most of the supermarkets are located on the periphery of towns, this also means that people are drawn away from the town centres, and that other businesses in turn suffer. Some people might call this a natural progress, but others bemoan the loss of tradition and diversity.
It is still possible to get milk delivered to the door, though. Perhaps too late, several companies have realised that there is still a small market for milk delivery, and are combining this with the delivery of other dairy products, along with fruits and vegetables. It remains to be seen if this will revive the milk delivery industry, but at the moment, it remains very much a niche market.