Milk delivery was a normal part of US citizens’ daily life back in the 60’s, when 30% of Americans were getting their milk through door-to-door delivery. However, by 1975 the number had dropped to 7%, and in 2005 to only 0.4%, date after which the government stopped providing milk delivery statistics [1]. As refrigerators became widely available and supermarket chains spread, purchasing milk from retailers quickly became the new norm. Moreover, as cities spread out, and customer numbers dwindled, the distances that milk-men had to travel increased, forcing them to raise their prices.

However, in the past couple of years, many newspapers had begun reporting that dairy delivery services were making a comeback, even before the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Pre Covid-19

Farm-to-table movement

Platform-to-Consumer Online food delivery was growing by over 12% annually before 2020, raking in $8.7 billion in revenues in 2019, compared to $6.8 billion in 2017. Because of the Covid-19 situation, revenues are expected to reach $10.9 billion in 2020, after which they are forecasted to keep growing at slower rates, reaching $13.9 billion in 2024 [2]. A larger and larger amount of the industry is being seized by local farmers. The farm-to-table movement revolves around the local population’s desire for environmentally friendly food that supports local businesses. Its’ main benefits consist of food security, proximity, self-reliance and sustainability.

More and more families and communities are turning to local suppliers. For example, in 2017, Iowa’s Woodbury County mandated that its food service suppliers buy from local farmers [3]. The U.S. population is forecasted to keep growing, from 328.2 million today, to 384 million in 2046 [4]. Furthermore, the past decades have seen an increase in the cultural tendency to care for the environment, with new terms like “plant-based” and “vegetable-forward” starting to enter the national lexicon [3].

Dairy delivery

Increased concerns about bacteria in food, such as E. coli, have been determining communities to purchase their aliments from trusted, verifiable local sources. For example, South Mountain Creamery in Maryland was delivering to 8,500 homes in five states by 2014, after starting with only 13 local customers in 2001. Louisville has a dairy that delivers milk three times more than 15 years ago [5]. In Massachusetts, there are about 10 New England dairies who do delivery. Besides new companies, many old ones, that were founded in the early 90’s, or even the late nineteenth century, are making a comeback. Shaw Farm, Dracut, is a farm dating to 1908. Since around 2003, the number of homes they deliver to each week has more than tripled from 300, to 1000 [6].

Besides the food quality, an important benefit of milk delivery is the human aspect. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, people were looking to humanise the process of obtaining food, one respondent stating for Boston Globe that “It feels nice. It feels more like a neighborhood. You feel like you’re part of a community.” [6]

The art of milk delivery is over a century year old. The classic white suit with a black bow tie and the signature glass milk bottles, are likely to remain relics of story [7]. However, this does not mean that milk delivery in and of itself has to go. The widespread access to new technologies such as GPS Navigation and faster, more accessible internet, are benefitting the delivery industry. Hamdi Ulukaya, the billionaire founder and CEO of yogurt powerhouse Chobani, has stated that “I see the milkman coming back, I really do,”, as customers are seeking maximum freshness and mobile apps are making delivery easily accessible to everyone [7].

Post Covid-19

The Covid-19-induced lockdown has rapidly accelerated the milk-man’s comeback. Local newspapers nation-wide have been reporting a resurgence of the old tradition. Although most activity seems to revolve around New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, articles mentioning increased milk delivery activity range from Seattle, Washington [8] all the way to Palm Beach, Florida [9].

Services in New York have had orders double, triple, and more. Mitch the Milkman, located on Long Island, has seen a 600% increase in business. In New Jersey, Udderly Delicious has seen their business double, while Sunscreet Farms, located in Totowa, are now taking 90 to 100 calls every day [10].

People’s need for human connection in an increasingly digitalised world was significantly enlarged by the lockdown, which has seen many individuals unable to attend their regular social events and gatherings. In this context, milk delivery has become a way for many to socialise and exchange information about what’s happening in the local community. Furthermore, during trying times for many, receiving milk delivery can represent a new way to build a routine that people can anchor to for emotional support; Landress, 64, told NJ Advance media that “It is such a calming thing in a difficult time to know that every Monday morning I get milk, eggs and butter,” [11].  For the ones who were alive during the milk-man golden ages, a sweet nostalgic feeling is attached to the resurrection of dairy delivery. On the other hand, it’s an excellent opportunity for people that wish to socially distance, who have the option of just picking up the items without having to come in contact with anyone.


The farm-to-table social movement has been gaining life in US, due to people’s environmental and food-safety concerns, as well as a desire to form a more human relationship with their food. Owing to increased environmental awareness and technology advancement, many newspapers and milk-delivery business owners were reporting steady revenue increase. The Covid-19-induced lockdowns have skyrocketed the dairy-delivery business, with many farms seeing their deliveries more than double. Although potential vaccines are already in the final trial phase, there is no certainty of when one will be available. As experts are predicting that a vaccine won’t be available before middle 2021 [12], the numbers of dairy-delivery customers are likely to stay very high during the next year. Furthermore, even after the lockdown ends, the industry is likely to stay relevant enough for dairy-delivery to remain a profitable business. 


[1] Tahmincioglu, E. (2007, December 16). Remember the Milkman? In Some Places, He’s Back. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[2] Online Food Delivery – United States: Statista Market Forecast. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[3] Janzer, C. (2018, June 22). The History of the Farm to Table Movement. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[4] Roper, W., & Richter, F. (2020, October 02). Infographic: U.S. Population Projections Fall. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[5] Wolf, B. (2014, June 15). The Milkman’s Comeback Means Dairy At The Door And More. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[6] Preszler, J. (2018, February 13). Yes, you can still get milk delivered – and people are taking advantage – The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[7] Schouthen, C. (2017, October 20). The return of the milkman, 21st century-style. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[8] Mead, T. (2018, July 09). The Milkman to Puget Sound Since 1920. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[9] McBane, R. (2018, November 14). The Milkman Is Back: Fresh Milk Delivery in Delray Beach. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[10] Rossen, J. (2020, April 08). The Milkman Is Back to Making Dairy Deliveries. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[11] Associated Press (2020, April 11). Milkman Returns: Virus Spurs Resurgence of US Tradition. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

[12] Gallagher, J. (2020, October 27). Coronavirus vaccine: When will we have one? Retrieved October 29, 2020, from