The early morning milk round – once a traditional staple in Scottish life – is making a comeback.
Deliveries of glass milk bottles have increased five-fold in the past two years as householders tune into Blue Planet and other environmental TV shows.
Early morning milk rounds began to die out in the 1990s when supermarkets boomed and shoppers began to buy plastic containers rather than the traditional glass bottles which could be refilled. But consumers have started to switch back in a bid to cut down on plastic waste – a trend believed to be driven by shows such as Planet Earth.
Family business McQueen’s Dairies, based in Glasgow, has seen an increased demand for glass bottles delivered before 7am.
They are now delivering 170,000 a week compared to 30,000 two years ago. The firm has 150 milk drivers.
Founded in 1995 by married couple Mick and Meg McQueen, the business is now hiring new staff to cope with the demand.
The couple’s five children run regional depots across Scotland.
Last year they opened the Netherdale depot in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, with around 12 people hired to deliver milk.
But the workforce is expected to increase to around 40 milkmen this year and the business has modernised by allowing people to pay online.
The firm’s digital marketing manager Pauline Quigley said: “Since David Attenborough’s programmes Blue Planet and Planet Earth investigated the impact of single use plastic is having in our oceans, we have seen a huge increase in glass enquiries from new and existing customers.
“Although we also deliver milk in larger plastic containers, across Scotland our glass sales have increased by five-fold within the last two years.
“Our family business was established 25 years ago and our main focus has always been supplying milk directly to the doorstep.
“Our business has increased significantly, allowing us to open a depot in Galashiels and expand deliveries in the Borders.”
The company’s promise to have fresh milk, as well as eggs and juice, on the doorstep by 7am is proving popular.
Ms Quigley said: “Another part of the business which is expanding rapidly is our online orders.
“Years ago milkmen came around the doors to collect their money.
However, our website lets customers place and manage orders online and pay via direct debit instead.”
Robert Graham, chairman of Graham’s The Family Dairy, Scotland’s biggest independent milk producer, which last year began offering customers doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles, said: “We’ve been incredibly successful with around a 25 per cent rise in customer enquiries weekly, since we launched the service in June 2019.
“Customers are looking to move back to traditional milk delivery, moving away from plastic. We provide this service across Scotland, with a focus close to our dairy in Nairn via doorstep, as well as to local retailers and coffee shops, hotels etc.
“The ‘milk miles’ are incredibly low as our farms are between only 1one to five miles up the road. The milk is collected from our farming partners locally, then bottled at Nairn ready for delivery to our customers across the Highlands and Aberdeenshire.”