While overall milk consumption is down, it remains a key category for Canadian c-stores. Among beverages purchased at c-stores in the past month, more than one-third (35%) of shoppers bought milk, according to the C-store IQ National Shopper Study, that’s up from 30% pre-pandemic. In fact, milk came out on top, followed by 30% purchasing can/bottled pop, 23% still bottled water, 21% hot beverages and 17% sports drinks.
I’m old enough to remember that houses in Toronto used to have a milk door. It was a small door on the outside wall, a narrow shelf in between, and an inside door with a small metal catch. Once or twice a week, the “milkman” would make his rounds, placing a couple of heavy glass bottles filled with fresh dairy inside, and collecting the empties from the previous week. When I was in elementary school, we also had vendors doing home delivery of other staples—fruit, eggs, bread, and, my favourite, wooden crates of carbonated beverages.
In the 1970s, exponential growth of supermarkets disrupted the home delivery model. Larger refrigerators that could easily accommodate plastic gallon jugs of full-fat milk became the norm. A decade later my mom switched to cartons, and then to four litre bags of 2% milk. Though the packaging changed over the years, milk was still Canada’s hydration option of choice.