By Emma Drudge
For the first time in decades, glass-bottled milk is for sale in Atlantic Canada.
“IT’S HERE!” boasts the website of the Fox Hill Cheese House. This is the seventh week Fox Hill will be selling glass-bottled milk at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.
“We’ve shortened the timeline of getting milk to the customer,” says Rick Rand of Fox Hill. “We’ve sold twice as much as we expected to.”
The Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia (DFNS) is the provincial body that buys and sells milk in the province. Since 2002, Rand has been in discussion with the DFNS about getting a license to sell milk. He’s also had to get approval from the Natural Products Marketing Council and the Atlantic Dairy Council.
“The dairy industry is very structured,” says Rand. The DFNS represents farmers from across the province. It sets dairy prices and restricts dairy producers, such as Fox Hill, from selling milk directly to customers without going through the licensing process.
“The reception has been awesome,” says Whitney Cruikshank, who works for Fox Hill at the Seaport Market and has been selling the new bottled milk.
She says the glass bottle is a big part of the appeal, and there are two groups of people interested. “There’s an older generation it appeals to for the memorabilia,” she says.
She says younger generations appreciate the environmental element of using glass bottles instead of plastic.
Trevor McGarry shops at the Seaport Market every Saturday and has been enjoying Fox Hill’s new product.
“It just makes sense,” he says. “I can get the bottle refilled each week and there’s no wasted packaging.”
Many Fox Hill patrons agree.
Rand conducted a survey to see how his customers would prefer to buy their milk: in bags, bottles or cartons. 93 per cent of customers opted for reusable glass bottles.
The dairy industry disagrees.
“No one was really excited about bringing bottles back,” says Rand referring to problems with weight, breakage and cleanliness.
Fox Hill bottles have to be sanitized in a federally inspected facility before each refill.
Rand thinks all this extra work is worth it. He’d like to see the Seaport Market carry even more essential food items.
“If we can have all the basic staples we need in life, it’s tremendous not only for the producers, but for the people of metro HRM as well,” he says.
McGarry discusses his reasons for switching to Fox Hill milk: