Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture just launched a new campaign to help the struggling dairy industry.
The Plus One campaign encourages people to drink more milk and boost dairy sales during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. An official from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) appeared in an unorthodox promotional video for the campaign wearing a cow costume.
Earlier this month, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay home. As restaurants and schools closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, milk demand dropped by up to 30 percent. According to the national newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, the consumption of raw cream fell by 50 percent.
“With schools and restaurants closed, consumption of milk products has dropped,” explains Yoshio Shitamura, an official from MAFF’s dairy products department. “We must currently dispose of the extra milk, but we may soon even have to reduce the number of cows.”
In the video—complete with puns and a stuffed toy cow—Shitamura requests that people “drink one more glass of milk every day.” The Plus One campaign calls for households to make up for the excess dairy by buying one extra milk product with every shop.
As many Japanese households shop only for essential items, premium animal products are also in excess. Products including wagyu beef and the most expensive parts of tuna remain unsold. Japan’s largest farm association, the JA Group, organized a lottery to give away expensive beef products and reduce food waste.
Declining Dairy Sales
The Japanese dairy industry is not alone in its struggle with surplus produce following service industry and cafeteria closures. The Dairy Farmers of America estimates that up to 3.7 million gallons of milk is wasted daily in the U.S.
In the UK, farmers have dumped thousands of liters of milk due to the reduced demand during the lockdown. The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) says that the industry requires financial assistance if it is to survive. Without such assistance, farmers may have to cull thousands of cows.
U.S. farmers have already begun euthanizing pigs and chickens and aborting piglets to avoid additional losses. Farmers are also breaking eggs and plowing hundreds of acres of vegetables back into fields.