A LAKE District supermarket has introduce an innovative milk vending machine and it's proving a hit with customers.

Keswick Booths partnered with local dairy Midtown milk house to offer customers locally sourced milk in refillable glass bottles in an innovative milk vending machine.

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

The Hodgsons, Debra and Michael and their sons Hugh and Angus are 4th 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.

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

Store Manager Matt said, "Customers have been asking us about buying milk in glass bottles, but there were challenges around how we managed collection and return. The vending machine seemed like a neat solution to the problems we faced, so we set up a meeting with our buying team."

The machine, which dispenses pasteurised milk from The Hodgsons’ 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.