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Twitter users mobilize to use milk surplus caused by school closures

16 Comments
By Ben K, grape Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrupt decision to call on schools nationwide to shut down starting Monday, March 2nd has spurred criticism from educators and parents, but one initially unforeseen victim is the dairy industry.

According to Sankei News, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported that out of the 20,000 tons of milk shipped daily, around 2,000 tons, or 10%, are used in school lunches. The school closings will result in 30,000 tons of surplus. While the government wants to prevent waste by turning the surplus milk into skim milk powder, butter, or other dairy byproducts, as reported in Tokyo Sports News, not all processing plants have the equipment to do this.

This means that without a significant increase in purchasing by Japanese consumers, the surplus milk may potentially go to waste.

A call to action on social media

Many Twitter users were quick to respond to this urgency.

For example, in a tweet which has over 196,000 likes and 108,000 retweets at the time of writing, agricultural cooperative adviser Miyabi made the following plea:

"It doesn't matter what brand it is, please buy milk, domestic milk and drink it. It's possible that the milk which was allotted for school lunches will be left over. Dairy cows can't adjust the amount of milk they make. If the milk which is milked from them can't be sold, dairy farmers can't make a living. In the worst case scenario, they can be driven out of business."

Drinking milk in Japan

Japanese people drink far less milk than many other countries in the world. According to data compiled by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Japan only ranked 109th worldwide for milk consumption in 2013 at 73 kg/capita/yr, or less than a third of 17th-ranked United States at 255 kg and 23rd-ranked Australia at 234 kg/capita/yr. In Japan, generally speaking, most people only drink raw milk in early childhood when it is served in school lunches. While milk is used to eat cereal in some families, it's most commonly relegated to occasional use as coffee creamer or baking.

Therefore, while it would be relatively easy to convince consumers in the U.S. or Australia to drink a bit more milk at home, that's a bit of a tough sell in Japan.

A multitude of milk recipes

Resourceful Twitter users, however, quickly found a workaround: if you can't drink it, cook with it! And they began posting recipes which use a lot of milk and dairy products.

Here are a few examples.

Cottage cheese (@shizumin_gerbil)

"Heat 1 liter of milk, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Mix over medium heat until separation occurs. When the liquid becomes clear, strain through a sieve covered by a cheesecloth. If you like it soft, stop here. You can mix it into salads. If you like it harder, wrap it in a cloth and bind it with a rubber band, then drain more water by putting it under a pan or other flat object with a weight on top."

Drinkable cheesecake (@ore825)

"Gradually blend 50 grams of cream cheese pre-softened in a microwave oven and 4 teaspoons of sugar into 120 ml of milk. Adding a few drops of lemon juice makes it more refreshing. I swear you can drink up a lot of milk this way. It's so tasty!"

Ramen carbonara (@ore825)

"In a microwaveable bowl, add Sapporo Ichiban instant noodles, 200 ml of milk, 220 ml of water and 40 grams of bacon and heat it unwrapped at 600 W for 6 minutes in the microwave. Soften noodles, then heat again for one minute. Add soup pack, sesame seed, 8 grams of butter, one egg yolk, pepper and grated cheese."

Shkmeruli (@ore825)

Commenters also drew inspiration from abroad, such as the Georgian specialty Shkmeruli which has recently enjoyed some popularity in Japan.

Sautee 6 cloves of garlic in a pan with 20 grams of butter until golden, add 350 grams of pre-salted chicken thighs and cook until well browned. Add 300 ml of milk, 70 grams of cream cheese, one cube of chicken bouillon, a pinch of salt, and simmer until liquid thickens. Enjoy with bread and black pepper! Honestly speaking, it's amazingly good.

You'll also find recipes for milk stew, milk pudding, milk jellies, milk caramel and more, often posted with the hashtag #牛乳レシピ (milk recipes).

If these efforts encourage enough people to buy more milk, perhaps waste will be avoided. At the very least, some people will benefit by having new milk-based recipes they can add to their culinary repertoire.

Read more stories from grape Japan.

-- Adorable Cat-Shaped Japanese Geta Sandals Get New White Day Release

-- “The death of theater”: Tokyo Met Theater director’s stand against coronavirus closures

-- Convenience Store Lawson Donates Rice Balls To Day Cares After Coronavirus School Closures

© grape Japan

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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Make more butter, dammit! You can never have enough. Freeze it for later use! And drop the price!

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Don’t the kids drink milk at home?

11 ( +11 / -0 )

How about still delivering the milk to schools, but allow the parents (or local residents) to collect it free of charge for their children.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

A food surplus is probably a happy problem for consumers and producers. I agree with MarkX, why not make more milk-based dairy products? It seems like a logical and easy answer.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Butter, I say, butter!

Maybe we can get this product cheaper then?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Simple, DROP THE PRICE.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The article stated: “In Japan, generally speaking, most people only drink raw milk in early childhood when it is served in school lunches.”

This is factually incorrect.

R A W milk is not served in school lunches.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Simple, DROP THE PRICE.

LOL this is JA were talking about , they prefer to throw it out even teeter on bankruptcy before they'll drop prices. too many vested interest in keeping Japanese programmed into paying higher prices

13 ( +13 / -0 )

How about giving it to the homeless, or shelters, or day cares, or......

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Hot chocolate the best !!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@MarkX I can't believe people like your post. Does nobody have the slightest grasp of how food is produced? Just think about it. The milk served at schools already has the fat removed, to make butter. So no, the surplus milk cannot be turned into butter no matter how hard the mice try.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Now this is something positive news, people trying to help the milk producers and farmers

see , if there is no politicians or bureaucrats involved, good things will happen ,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about still delivering the milk to schools, but allow the parents (or local residents) to collect it free of charge for their children.

300 cars picking up 300 tiny bottles of milk. Sounds like a party that Corona would love.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

300 cars picking up 300 tiny bottles of milk. Sounds like a party that Corona would love.

not to mention the damage to the environment

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ClippetyClop and Ah-so.

I said the locals (meaning those who live near / within walking distance of the school). But I appreciate your: 'the glass of milk is half empty mindset' ;)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I said the locals (meaning those who live near / within walking distance of the school). But I appreciate your: 'the glass of milk is half empty mindset' ;)

Fair point, but still hardly worth the effort for anyone unless they are within earshot of the school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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