JAPANESE POLITICIANS are imploring people to drink more milk this winter to prevent tons of excess raw milk from being thrown away.

“We’d like the population to cooperate in drinking an extra cup of milk than you’d normally do and make use of milk products when cooking,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference on Tuesday that marked the end of a parliamentary session. 

Japanese farm minister Genjiro Kaneko and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike both also drank a cup of milk at news conferences on Dec. 17.

The government estimates that 5,000 tons of raw milk could be wasted this winter, which traditionally sees weaker demand for dairy products anyway as schools — where children are given boxes of milk — break for holidays and major retailers close for the new year. The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is further hitting demand in the hospitality industry, according to the Japan Dairy Association. 

Japanese dairy farmers have pledged to buy a liter of milk every day from Dec. 25 to Jan. 3 and are drawing attention to their efforts on social media using the hashtag #1L per day. Meanwhile, Lawson, Inc.’s chain of convenience stores is offering a 50% discount on cups of hot milk on Dec. 31 and New Year’s Day, while dairy giant Meiji Holdings Co. hired three-time Olympic wrestling champion Saori Yoshida as part of its newest campaign to boost milk consumption. — Bloomberg