The Return of the Milkman

The Lempert Report
September 19, 2023

On the Bullseye - it’s the return of the milkman! Does this mark a new era, and possibly increased sales, for milk? As many of you know my grandfather and father had a dairy farm and were milkmen, so I am thrilled at this latest trend - that could be game changing. In a turn of events reminiscent of yesteryears, cities across the nation are witnessing the nostalgic resurgence of the milkman. This evokes memories of mornings greeted by fresh milk bottles on doorsteps, with the clinking of glass echoing down quiet suburban streets. As it makes its way back into the urban landscape, The Lempert Report takes a deep dive into the implications for consumers and the milk industry.

Here are the benefits to bringing back the milkman: Sustainability: Glass bottles are reusable and, when managed properly, have a lower carbon footprint than plastic. The return of the milkman indirectly promotes a sustainable approach to packaging, with bottles being collected, cleaned, and reused multiple times.

Local: Supporting local dairies could boost local economies. The direct-to-doorstep model enables smaller dairy businesses to compete against large corporations, ensuring a fair market.

Freshness: Direct delivery often ensures fresher milk. With reduced time spent in transit and storage, milk delivered to doorsteps tends to be fresher than what one might find in a supermarket.

Personalized Service: The milk delivery service often extends beyond just milk. Direct delivery allows dairies to build stronger relationships with consumers, gather feedback, and tailor offerings accordingly. And most importantly, it brings human contact back to our doorsteps. Yes bringing back the milkman will increase the costs to the consumer, and it’s not for everyone, but for those customers who opt for the service it will be a strong and reoccurring business model.

The door-to-door delivery model also opens up a new channel of revenue for local dairies, especially valuable during times when traditional retail is challenged. The rebirth of the milkman model speaks to a deeper desire among consumers – a yearning for simpler times, personalized service, and sustainable choices. However, it's not without its challenges. For the model to be successful in today's world, it must be blended with modern conveniences – online ordering, flexible delivery windows, and a diverse product range.

A great example is Dan & Debbie’s Creamery in Ely, Iowa. Coining the slogan “spilled milk you’d cry over” to accompany their vintage-style logo and black-and-white imagery has solidified their brand by making it authentic and relatable to customers. Their community sees those words on the side of their classic white delivery truck as it drives down the road. After Dan & Debbie’s grew the delivery service the dairy told Dairy Herd “people felt a connection to us as a family even more than our products. Over the last 3 years, customers have signed up for our weekly milk subscription and that day of the week has become their favorite day. It’s bringing back moments of their childhood. People are at the door waiting and greet us by name.”  

Dan & Debbie’s Creamery, Dairy Herd reports, chooses to not only talk about their values through keywords but exemplify them in their customer experience. The Creamery does not ding and dash’ when they deliver (like your Amazon driver). They make a point to thank each customer. Josie Rozum, Dan & Debbie’s daughter who is director of operations told Dairy Herd that  “In terms of food and farming, consumers are questioning everything. “The unique opportunity for farmers is the ability to share their why and potentially build a relationship with consumer.” Good for the dairy, good for the consumer and good for us all.

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