When Ontario dairies started selling milk in plastic bags

Consumers couldn't buy much in glass bottles anymore, besides pop and juice. Plastic was the new way of packaging milk in 1969.

Plastic bags and the jugs that held them were the new way to pour milk

Bagged milk was just the beginning for packaging in 1969

4 years ago
Duration 1:03
Buying milk in bags costs a little more than jugs, as consumers discover in 1969.

Pop and juice at the grocery store still came in glass bottles, but in 1969 Ontario dairies had found a new way to sell milk.

"Gaining in popularity for the bulk buyer is milk in bags," said CBC reporter Bill Casey, who could be heard but not seen as the camera surveyed the store's dairy case.

"Introduced in Canada a couple of years ago, the bagged milk has been increasing steadily in popularity." 

A returnable plastic three-quart jug of milk was also available.

Casey explained that the bagged bulk milk came in "three-quart sizes."

When buying milk in plastic bags, consumers had to buy a jug to hold it too. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

A wire story in the Globe and Mail in April 1969 noted that more than 50 dairies across Canada had adopted "plastic film pouches," which were an offering by Du Pont of Canada. 

Each quart was in its own plastic pouch, which could then be "slipped into a jug."

Conveniently, the jugs to hold the bags were available nearby, on a shelf right above the bagged milk.

But plastic wasn't cheaper than the alternative.

"In fact, the bagged milk runs six to seven cents more than jugged milk," said Casey.

In April 1970, the Globe and Mail reported that bagged milk accounted for 11.8 per cent of sales in "six major Ontario cities" in February that year, compared with 2.1 per cent in February 1969. 

Another milk innovation

Longlife milk didn't need refrigeration until it was opened. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

Away from the refrigerated milk was an even newer way that milk was being packaged,

Casey said it was called "long life milk."

"It can be stored without refrigeration until opened," noted Casey as the camera showed small triangular packages that were stored next to the powdered milk.

According to a 1969 ad in the Toronto Star, Longlife Milk came in Tetrapaks. It's known today as UHT milk, for the way it's processed at an "ultra-high temperature."

"It's mainly used ... by cottagers and campers," said Casey.

And it had a drawback.

"Because the milk is sterilized at a higher heat than ordinary milk, it has a slightly cooked flavour," said Casey.

"What they'll do to milk next, only the processor knows," said Casey, wrapping up. "But it's almost certain whatever they do, the original producer probably won't recognize it."

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