Japanese Agri Official in Cow Costume Pleads: Drink More Milk

(Bloomberg) -- Donned in a cow costume, an official in Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture issued one humble request to the nation: Drink more milk.

“With schools and restaurants closed, consumption of milk products has dropped,” Yoshio Shitamura, an official at MAFF’s dairy products department, said in a video on Monday. “We must currently dispose of the extra milk, but we may soon even have to reduce the number of cows.”

Japanese Agri Official in Cow Costume Pleads: Drink More Milk

The quirky video (complete with “moo” puns) is the latest example of the distressed dairy industry grappling with demand destruction triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Japan has urged citizens to stay at home after the government declared a nationwide state of emergency earlier this month. Meanwhile, milk demand has dropped by as much as 30% without daily school lunches, and consumption of raw cream has collapsed by 50% as a slew of restaurants shut their doors, according to Asahi Shimbun.

In contrast to Japan’s YouTube strategy, U.S. President Donald Trump last week announced a $2.9 billion bailout for dairy farmers, who have been dumping as much as 8% of their milk.

The nation is also struggling with brimming warehouses full of premium products -- such as silky wagyu beef, plump melons and the fattiest parts of tuna -- as households stick to buying bare essentials. The JA Group, the largest farm association, even conducted a lottery earlier this month to give away coupons for expensive beef in a bid to lower inventories, according Toyo Keizai Online.

Fresh dairy can’t be stored for very long, and production can’t be slowed as cows need to be milked in order to stay healthy. The Ministry of Agriculture kicked off the “Plus One” campaign, calling for households to buy one more dairy product every time they go shopping, such as a jug of milk or tub of yogurt.

Or, as Shitamura simply put it: “Drink one more glass of milk everyday.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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