A Cumbrian farm has teamed up with a major retailer to offer a ‘milk vending machine’.

Keswick Booths has partnered with local dairy Midtown Milkhouse to offer customers locally sourced milk in refillable glass bottles.

The partnership was suggested by a Booths customer who wanted to purchase local milk in traditional glass bottles which prompted the store manager to get in touch with Midtown farm in the North Lakes.

News and Star: Midtown Milkhouse teamMidtown Milkhouse team (Image: Supplied)The Hodgsons, Debra and Michael and their sons Hugh and Angus are fourth generation dairy farmers who farm in Caldbeck. 

The family first installed a milk vending machine on the farm in August 2020 at the height of the Covid crisis.

“It was an uncertain time everywhere, but even more so on the farm, as milk prices crashed during the pandemic,” said Michael Hodgson.

“We’d discussed a few ideas on how to weather the market in lockdown. Then one morning my son, Angus, told me he’d done it, he ordered a vending machine and a pasteurising unit and we set about to make it work.

“The vending machine became an overnight success on the farm, thanks to Angus’s girlfriend Becky Mann, for spreading the word on social media.

“The ability to gently pasteurise the milk in small batches means it retains its character and creaminess.

“The success of the machine has enabled us to confidently invest in the farm, a new cowshed and milking parlour.”  

The machine, which dispenses pasteurised milk from their herd of 250 pedigree Holsteins, is a supermarket first for Booths, and offers customers access to a truly local milk that they bottle themselves using traditional milk bottles.

There is even a facility to make flavoured milkshakes by adding a shot of flavouring. Customers pay for the glass bottle initially and bring a clean bottle to refill on their next shop. 

Keswick Store Manager Matt Welsh said, “Customers have been asking us about buying milk in glass bottles, but there were challenges around how we managed collection and return.

News and Star: Keswick Store Manager Matt Welsh with the milk vending machineKeswick Store Manager Matt Welsh with the milk vending machine (Image: Supplied)“The vending machine seemed like a neat solution to the problems we faced, so we set up a meeting with our buying team.”

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“I’m confident that the machine will be a success with local customers and offer a true taste of the Lake District for visitors.  Since they pasteurise the milk on the farm, we can assure a direct link from the farm to Booths. The result is a truly local brand of milk in attractive and sustainable glass bottles. I think our shoppers will love it.” 

The Milk Vending Machine will be live from the March 27 at the Keswick Booths.