A disappearing atmosphere of yesteryear: after 95 years, the end of glass milk bottles

Japan Data

Gastronomy Daily life


For Japanese fans of public bathing, there is nothing like cold milk coming out of the water. The small glass milk bottles were an element that had been part of the traditional atmosphere for 95 years, but their sale ended last March.

At the end of March 2024, the large food company Morinaga stopped selling its range of milk packaged in small glass bottles. Some of these seven products will continue to be offered for sale in plastic packaging or in cartons.

Morinaga began selling milk in small glass bottles in 1929 and for 95 years his products were popular with buyers. So it’s the end of an era…

“Cardas Milk”, the flagship product of the Morinaga firm, has a new look. (Photo courtesy of Morinaga Milk Industry)

These small bottles of Morinaga Milk and Morinaga Coffee were found in certain vending machines, particularly in public baths (sentô). “Morinaga Cardas” for example has had a makeover, renamed “Morinaga Cardas Milk”, it is now available in a plastic bottle with a cap and it can now be kept for longer (18 days instead of 12). The firm explained that it wanted to take into account the changing needs of customers, it was necessary to rationalize transport and get rid of the problem of glass deposits.

After the “Meiji Fruit” from the Meiji firm in April 2019 and the eight “Koiwai Dairy” products including milk and latte produced by a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings available until the end of March 2021, manufacturers in the dairy sector one after the other, they stop packaging their drinks in glass bottles. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, this conditioning is decreasing from year to year. In 2022, it will only represent 2.6% of the total.

The Koiwai Dairy spokesperson reports that Japanese customers reacted strongly to the end of small glass bottles. On social networks, the air was one of regret: “They reminded me of my childhood”, “It’s a bit of the culture of the last century that is disappearing”.

(Headline photo: From left to right, “Morinaga Milk” and “Morinaga Coffee,” two products packaged in glass bottles that have disappeared from shelves and beverage dispensers. Photo courtesy of Morinaga Milk Industry .)

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