Got milk? Consumption of organic milk in schools is increasing

EU subsidies for skimmed milk, yoghurts and some fruits and vegetables help boost the taste for organic products in school meals.

File picture of girl drinking milk / Credit: iStock

The amount of organic milk being drunk in Finnish schools is on the rise, even if the overall volume is still rather low compared to all milk types.

The Finnish Organic Food Association Pro Luomo says that during the 2018-209 academic year 2.97 million liters of organic milk was drunk by thirsty pupils at Finnish primary schools and kindergartens. That’s about twice as much as the previous school year.

In total about 15.39 million liters of skimmed milk was purchased for use in schools, meaning organic milk makes up about 19.3% of the total.

File picture of cows on arable farm land / Credit: iStock

Organic milk increases in line with EU funding

The use of organic milk in schools started to grow from the autumn of 2017 when there was in an increase in the amount of subsidies paid by the European Union.

EU money covers skimmed milk or yoghurt. The money also pays for a number of vegetables and berries like cantaloupe melon, carrots, tomatoes and currants.

One of the big consumers of milk is Oulu schools district, where 400,000 liters of milk are drunk every year, and where organic milk was added to the menu in December 2019.

The city uses Valio as its official milk supplier, and while milk is sourced from farms within 120km of Oulu, the EU subsidies are only for skimmed milk, not semi-skimmed, which some schools find restricting.

“The trend is for more procurement groups and municipalities to move towards organic milk” says Valio’s Mirva Tollet.

“At least for the time being, the availability of organic milk has not become a challenge. The challenge for the whole school distribution subsidy is that it is only available for skimmed milk; many municipalities would like to offer light milk if it is better suited to local tastes” she explains.