Vancouver Island dairy is believed to be first in Canada to offer milk on tap

Vancouver Island dairy offers ‘milk on tap’
A Parksville dairy farm says it's the first in North America to offer fresh milk from a 'vending machine.' Neetu Garcha has the story.

A Vancouver Island dairy is believed to be the first in Canada to offer their customers the chance to buy milk on tap – just like getting a growler filled at a brewery.

Morningstar Farm in Parksville is now selling their milk by the litre, and customers can bring their own jug or buy a glass bottle and reuse it again and again.

“We have a lot of retired folks who come and enjoy the farm and enjoy the milk dispenser,” Raymond Gourlay, co-owner of Morningstar, told Global News.

“I think to them it’s in some way taking them back to an age where you got milk delivered by the milkman, and it feels familiar in that sense.”

Morningstar Farm in Parksville.
Morningstar Farm in Parksville.

The farm bought the dispensing unit from Switzerland and soft-launched the idea in early August.

Story continues below advertisement

Gourlay said it has been popular so far, and believes it is the only one in Canada.

He says the issue of pasteurization might be why more farms aren’t jumping on board.

“In Canada, unlike Europe, we do not sell raw milk, we have to sell pasteurized milk,” he said.

“In B.C. we are one of the small dairy farms that is also a processing facility that can sell milk direct from the farm because it’s pasteurized here and most farms don’t do that.”

A customer fills up milk at Morningstar Farm.
A customer fills up milk at Morningstar Farm. Neetu Garcha / Global News

The cost is $2 per litre, which Gourlay said is cheaper than a litre of milk at a grocery store, but buying a four litre jug at a store would ultimately be cheaper.

“[It’s] all grass feed milk, whole milk, no cream added,” said Gourlay. “The fat levels fluctuate, normally just over four per cent, it’s very fresh, straight out of the cow.”
Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Canada’s first zero-waste grocery store opens on Salt Spring Island, B.C.

“We sell milk from the day-of, [we] don’t age it.”

Gourlay is encouraging other farms to jump on board as, while the system is profitable for them, he believes it adds more value to the farm and the community, which is more important.

A litre of milk filled up at Morningstar Farm.
A litre of milk filled up at Morningstar Farm. Global News

“It’s a big investment to pasteurize milk, but I would love to see a day where we could offer this to most communities around the province,” he says.

The farm is also excited about promoting buying local and cutting down on packaging and waste.

“It meets a core value of ours, to offer a product with less packaging… and be able to cut down on waste,” added Gourlay.

Story continues below advertisement
Reusable milk bottles for sale at Morningstar Farm.
Reusable milk bottles for sale at Morningstar Farm. Global News

Harvinder Aujala, the information services manager for the Recycling Council of British Columbia said this is the first time she’s heard of this idea for milk.

“The Recycling Council encourages British Columbians to go up the 3R’s hierarchy, so while recycling is great, reducing and reusing are even better,” said Aujala in an email interview.

“Not only are folks refilling and reusing pre-existing containers, they can also reduce foodwaste by purchasing only the amount they need.”

With zero-waste grocery stores also opening in B.C., Aujala says the idea further shows consumers want these options.

“The recent increased access to zero-waste markets shows that consumers want more environmentally-friendly shopping choices, and it’s great to see new products, vendors and options available,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

For Gourlay, he’s happy customers are enjoying the option and buying local.

“To another generation… it feels familiar to and reminiscent of going to the local brew pub or brewery and just getting your growler filled with beer on tap,” he said.