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Mar 28, 2011 08:52 PM

Milk in bags ... Are Canadians weird, or are Americans the weirdos?

How come milk is sold in bags in Canada, but not in the U.S.?

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  1. Good question.
    I asked that a few months ago in a post and now I forgot what I was told.

    16 Replies
    1. re: monku

      False alarm...Canadiens were talking about a "Milk Calendar" and I was wondering what that was all about.

      I imagine milk in bags has to do with packaging convenience and weight. Someone is missing out on money to made in packaging milk in Canada.

      1. re: monku

        I think the official industry response is that bags are cheaper and keep the milk fresher than plastic jugs or cartons.

        If that's true, why not adopt it everywhere?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I'm sure Canadiens think we're weird for putting our milk in jugs and containers.
          (all I know was I felt stupid asking what a milk calendar was)

          Growing up there was something about drinking milk from a cold glass bottle or wax carton. I think if you tried to drink it straight out of the bag it would be quite messy.

          1. re: monku

            Messy to drink out of the bag? Not at all. It's not like you are holding the bag directly in your hands. It's in a jug and you cut a hole in the corner of the bag. I drank from the bag many times when I lived with my parents. Now, 3 litres of milk is too much to buy at once, so we only have cartons.

            The bags are great to re-use for freezing stuff. They are heavier than a freezer bag.

            1. re: monku

              You're definitely weird if you call us 'Canadiens'. Unless you're speaking French, we're 'Canadians'.

              1. re: monku

                Ok so not all canaidens drink out of bags I'm from Alberta and I drink out of a jug

              2. re: ipsedixit

                Probably the possibility of loss, more likely that plastic bags will burst in transit than cartons or what not.

                I rarely see anyone buying these where I am in Canada btw. Most people I see are going with the cartons or the larger plastic jugs.

                I just wish they'd sell milk in glass here.

                1. re: im_nomad

                  By here, do you mean Maritimes? like Halifax?I only ask because I am pretty sure I have seen you post on that Board. If so, they do...I think it must be either Planet Organic or Pete's because I see glass bottles in my daughter's house and those are her only retailers except for HFX Market.

                  1. re: LJS

                    I'm in Nova Scotia, but not Halifax. I don't remember seeing glass milk bottles at Pete's though although I haven't been there lately.

                  2. re: im_nomad

                    I'm 65 years old and we had milk in bags when I was a kid. Never, ever had one burst or leak.
                    Canadians tend to be more environmentanlly conscious and plastic bags take up a lot less space in landfills and can be recyled.
                    They are sold 4 - 1 liter bags in a large bag and for those who don't use a lot of milk, the bags can be frozen and thawed with no loss of flavour.

                    1. re: Houcasey

                      Alberta has a problem When I first came here in 2007 the milk and juice containers were not recycled. Since November 2008 they are collected...along with Tetra boxes and you pay a deposit and a non-refundable recycle fee. The reason that so many homeless people collect to Calgary is because in November 2008 the deposits were doubled and the milk and juice containers were added. The Homeless now have doubled their income from collecting bottles from trash and recycle bins. The government also benefited because so many people throw away their deposits into the trash. The recycle (bottle depots) benefited by increased volume..If we went to plastic milk bags this would all be cut back. I see elderly orientals collecting too they are not homeless but they make extra $$ being "recycle persons" A whole industry around Recycling 2L cartons and 4 L bottles. 25 cents per jug x 100 = $25.00 tax free.

                      1. re: Houcasey

                        Plastic milk jugs have been recycled for many years. The recycling of plastic bags is much more recent. At least that has been my experience.

                        I think the reason plastic milk jugs are more common than plastic bags is because the bottling lines for jugs are already being used and have been for 30+ years. If for some reason those 'bottling' plants had installed machines using bags, then they would be more prevalent now.

                        1. re: John E.

                          Hi John In Alberta they were considered recyclable but no desposit. So a lot went to landfill, in Nov 2008 they put a deposit fee and recycle fee so ppl would bring them back... so now we have lots of ppl diving in Recycle carts and garbage bin. Just another tax. ppl are lazy so they dont bring them back so they doubled the deposit.

                          1. re: BobsLink

                            I guess Minnesota has been ahead of many other areas when it comes to recycling. I have lived in five different homes in the last 25 years and at each place there was a recycle bin for plastic bottles, glass bottles, and paper. More recently, most plastic and plastic bags go into the recycling bin. Oh, cans and aluminum have been recycle for decades as well. Our recycling bin is half again larger than our trash bin. We have never had any kind of deposit on bottles or aluninum beverage cans.

                            1. re: John E.

                              Sorry john, but you will find a lot of plastics in your garbage dump from those that don't want to recycle because there is no deposit. but minnesota has good people who Probably are more consciencious than alot of areas. Here we recycle and return for deposit bottles, cans, tetra paks,juice bottles, and several other containers. THIS works to attract many vagrants who do the recycling for those who don't recycle.. Kinda silly when you see garbage containers being gone through. Back to milk in plastic bags, they can be recycled have small volume when empty. They can be frozen for storage and have you ever smelt the sour smell on the lid of the bottles when half used, doesn't happen with the bags. I would rather use bags.

                2. We're the weirdos. I am always in awe of alternative packaging in other countries. I was amazed at the array of vacume sealed boxes of milk in Mexico. I know a lot of parents who'd love to buy milk once a month rather than weekly like others buy soy milk.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                    We've had that kind of milk in the US for at least 15 years.

                    1. re: monku

                      Shelf-stable milk.

                      Borden is just one example in the U.S. (pic below)

                    2. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                      Called UHT (ultra high temperature processing) milk introduced by Parmalat in the US in 1993.
                      Look for it on your grocers shelves not the refrigerated section.

                      1. re: monku

                        Yes, I know it is here in the US, but very hard to find where I live, at any rate I don't drink milk. Mexico had a lot of different brands in different sizes. No comparison to the US offerings.

                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                          It's hard to find because that UHT never became a staple or popular here in the US since we have more access to fresh milk.

                          1. re: monku

                            It's in every grocery store I've been in in the NYC area. I use it because I don't drink milk at home and I need it for baking.

                            1. re: monku

                              It can be found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets next to the canned condendsed milk.

                              1. re: monku

                                People who do long cruises on sailboats use it. It is not my favorite, but it beats no milk or IMO - soy milk. Next time we do a longer cruise I am going to try almond milk. Also shelf stable.

                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                  people in hurricane and tornado and blizzard country keep it on hand, too -- for the same reason.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    sunshine, yup, we replace our "Hurricane stash" every year. We are thakful that we have not had to use it since "Opel" in '95 when we lived in the Panhandle, Seaside.

                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                      2004. Nuf said.

                                      Actually it's a riot -- I now live in Europe, where UHT milk is more common than fresh -- but it comes in plastic bottles, rather than tetrapaks. I do keep it on hand for cooking -- and because I discovered by accident that my Nespresso makes better foam with the UHT milk than with fresh.

                        2. I live in Canada and I haven't seen milk in bags for years.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: maxinecs

                            I'm curious to know where in Canada you live. I'm in Toronto, and every grocery store has it in bags.

                            1. re: Sooeygun

                              Yesterday I even saw bagged milk at a Toronto Shopper's Drug Mart, of all places.

                              When I was a kid in the Maritimes, my mom always bought milk in bags. She would freeze it and thaw as needed.

                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                We don't have it here in BC either. I actually miss it. Don't ask me why.

                                1. re: toutefrite

                                  Have not seen it in Alberta for years!

                                  1. re: Zydecopapa

                                    Ditto. I'm in Alberta and haven't seen milk in bags since '86. Had some friends whose parents bought it back then. We never did. It was always in the carton.

                                    1. re: Zydecopapa

                                      Me, neither. Nor in Saskatchewan. Always just cartons or plastic jugs.

                                      I've seen milk in bags in many European countries, though. Pretty common.

                                2. re: maxinecs

                                  They still sell it here where I am (I think - not a big milk buyer), but as I said above, I rarely see anyone buying it, or in their fridges. I remember having it as a child, there was a special jug for it, you'd cut the corner off etc.

                                  EDIT: checked a local dairy
                                  (4 litre milk in bags)

                                  1. re: maxinecs

                                    We still get it in bags in London, Ontario.

                                    1. I know we can't be the only area buying milk that way in the U.S.. It seems to pour just fine out of the bag in their dedicated, white plastic pitchers, though when you are in a hurry, it seems like you can never find the scissors to snip the bag open to pour. Nothing else cuts quite right.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: buckthorne

                                        We had a special cutter that was designed specifically for milk bags that you could stick on the fridge with a magnet.

                                        The nice thing about milk bags is that you get the economy of large quantities, but it keeps fresh better than a big jug. And, as others have said, milk bags make great freezer bags - we never bought special bags for the freezer when I was a kid.

                                        Mind you, you should never go into a grocery store in the US and ask if they carry 4L bags of Homo milk.....

                                      2. I had no idea Canadians purchased milk like that. I remember when I was in elementary school our school lunches suddenly switched from milk in cartons to milk in single serve bags, which we all had fun with for a while after we discovered what happens when you pierce the bag with the straw while squeezing the contents.

                                        BTW - Doing a Google Image Search for 'Canadian Milk Bags' produces results that are far more PG than I would have guessed.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                          the Kwik-Trip chain of convenience stores in the upper Midwest has an in-house dairy (and a good one!) -- and they package ALL their milk in bags.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Ditto for the Quality Dairy convenience store chain in the mid-Michigan area.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Kwik-Trip has been selling bagged milk (and OJ) since at least 2003.

                                            2. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                              To put this in historical perspective, the milk served in our military chowhall circa 1965 was in big...BAGS. The bags were inside rectangular cardboard boxes with a plastic tube that could be fitted into the chowhall milk dispensers.

                                              1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                                Lol, I was just going to say that when I was a kid in the 70s/80s, my mom, who worked for the military, would bring home big multi-gallon bags of milk ... which she stole from the mess hall supply, no foolin'. We'd keep it in the fridge with a fork twisted around the spout to crimp it.

                                                I always thought that must be how milk is dispensed in restaurant supply, too.