Customers eager for delivered products are driving a resurgence in a long-dying business, milk delivery. Rachel Feintzeig reports for the Wall Street Journal:
The glass bottles are gone. The cream-topped milk of yore has been replaced by oat milk, almond milk and even a Snickers-flavored drink. But the milkman is back, summoned by customers eager for home delivery in a world changed by pandemic.
At Wade’s Dairy in Bridgeport, Conn., the novel coronavirus has turned demand on its head and opened the door to a new—old—business idea. Wade’s had previously spent a century offering home delivery, but shut it down in 1992. Customers had dwindled, wooed by grocery stores offering cheaper milk that kept longer. Women had gone off to work, leaving no one home to accept deliveries.
The coronavirus fixed that last issue. Everyone is home now—even if they are working—and they want their milk. Meanwhile, many of the clients that Wade’s had pivoted to serve—restaurants, schools, corporate dining facilities—are closed.
“I never in a million years would have thought home delivery would come back like this,” said Doug Wade Jr., president of Wade’s Dairy.
In April, he started a service that charges a $10 fee in exchange for crates filled with everything from eggs to cheese to yogurt placed on doorsteps. More than 250 customers in 25 towns have signed up. The classic full-fat chocolate milk is a top seller, but overall, Americans’ taste for dairy has changed a lot over the years.
“Cow’s milk is kind of a black eye out there,” he said, acknowledging he has to sell the dairy-free options. “I’m hopeful that the tide will turn one day and people will say, ‘Why am I spending so much money on oat milk?’ ”
Delivery is a profitable business line, bringing in about $10,000 in sales a week. He recently purchased a new 14-foot truck especially for the operation.
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