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Ont. dairy farm offering milk from a vending machine

Ont. dairy farm offering milk from a vending machine

Customers can get a litre of 4 per cent white milk for $3

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Oxford County dairy farmers are offering their customers a unique milk experience.

Marja DeBoer-Marshall, and her husband, Laurence, operators of Golspie Dairy, a 30-head, 200-acre farm near Woodstock, Ont., installed a milk vending machine last summer.

Customers can bring their own bottles and pay $3 per litre of 4 per cent white milk or $4 for chocolate milk. The farm also sells sanitized bottles for $2 each.

Marja and Laurence MarshallLaurence Marshall and Marja DeBoer-Marshall.

The idea to bring in the vending machine started about five years ago from discussions about how to position the farm for future success.

“We knew we either had to grow the herd or add value to our milk,” DeBoer-Marshall told Farms.com. “It’s so hard to get quota and everything wasn’t penciling out the way we thought it would, so we thought maybe dairy processing was the way to go.”

The dairy farmers actually have two vending machines to accompany their on-site processing plant.

One machine dispenses the milk while the other is more like a traditional vending machine one would see in different locations. It stores and dispenses refrigerated bottles and cheese after a customer makes a selection.

And the farmers installed a second bulk tank on their farm to accommodate the milk for the machines.

“The tank is mounted on a trailer, so we hook that up to a tractor and drive it to the barn and pump the milk into our pasteurizer,” she said. “Most milk that’s processed goes through a high temperature pasteurizer, but we have a batch pasteurizer that lets us warm the milk more gently. Once it’s pasteurized, we cool the milk and put it into the bottles that go into the machines.”

The dairy farmers ordered the machine from a dealer in the Netherlands at the end of 2021. But the machine itself is manufactured in Switzerland.

Milk machine

The total investment for the machines ran into the tens of thousands of dollars, DeBoer-Marshall said.

“The milk vending machine, including transportation and by the time it arrived here from Europe at the height of the pandemic, was about $25,000 on its own,” she said. “The other machine was about another $15,000. So, for the whole setup you’re looking at around $40,000.

“If you want to produce fluid milk, you need some way of dispensing it. We would’ve had to invest in some equipment anyway and we thought this was a fun and novel way of doing it.”

The family is satisfied from the return on investment so far.

Not from a monetary standpoint yet, but from an educational one, DeBoer-Marshall said.

“It definitely hasn’t been paid off yet,” she said. “The majority of our consumers want to know more about how we farm and have an interest in knowing where their food comes from. And we’re more than happy to educate people about what we do.”

The Marshall family aren’t the only dairy farmers in Canada with milk vending machines.

Morningstar Farm in Parksville, B.C., and Sunnyside Dairy in Martensville, Sask., also have these pieces of equipment installed.




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