The big milk report: colour of packaging versus fat content
Everyone knows that if you want some nice, regular milk with a fat content of 1.5 % you reach for the blue carton in the supermarket. Right? At least that’s how Finnish cows want – no, demand – their milk to be packaged.
But wait a minute! Should you find yourself in Sweden it’s like the whole world’s gone mad – suddenly mellanmjölk (same fat content) is recognized by the colour green. What’s up with that?
We at the Kasper Stromman Design Blog decided it was about time someone looked into this anomaly. To start with we decided to create a simple graph of how the fat content correlates to the colour of packaging in Finland. Red for fat and blue for lean with a lighter blue for skimmed milk seems logical.
The Swedish model with yellow for skimmed milk seems a bit forced, but is still acceptable since red still indicates whole milk. We can live with that. I guess you need to respect the quirks of those crazy Swedish dairy producers.
But once you venture even further west things start to get weird. Red for whole milk, fine. I can relate to that. But purple for skimmed milk? Surely the colours need to move from one end of the colour spectre to the other, not just dip in and out like there’s no system at all?
Valio wrote us back a nice letter basically saying this is how the colours been since the 1960s, and noone can really remember why these colour were chosen in the first place. Fair enough.
Tine basically told us the same thing; the colours were chosen in the 1960s by the Dairy Producers Union, but why these colours were chosen remains a mystery. So, the world of dairy is based upon random desicion what comes to milk cartons. How disappointing.
But then Christina of Arla provided us with some important information: apparently the colour red for whole milk was chosen because in them olden days fatty cheese was labeled with a red colour. Progress finally! Or well – someone must obviously have chosen that colour red for some reason to start with, but at least there is some kind of legacy to the packaging.
Needless to say, our research team here at the Kasper Stromman Design Blog had reason for celebration. Also needless to say we celebrated with milk. And a pretzel.
But unfortunately our celebration was premature. Because now our research team found out about the topsy-turvy world of dairy that is also called Denmark. Where whole milk comes in a blue carton. What on earth could the Danish be thinking, not sticking to the rule of red = fat?
And what about Iceland then? Sure, Iceland was under Danish rule for a long time, but still? You’ve been independent now for a good 60 years, time to repack the whole milk in a nice, red container?
Then again, Iceland is nothing compared to the Bizarro World that is also called the U.K. Someone seems to have decided that red = skimmed milk and blue = whole milk. There really is no logic to this. None at all.
And we all know that the Danish have historically had an influence on the British Isles, but surely that can’t extend to the colour of fat?
When compared next to each other we are able to examine the different colour schemes more closely. Denmark’s logical blue gradient actually stands out in this international context. But most of all, two different camps becomes visible: the ones where red stand for fat, and the ones that has reserved blue for this purpose.
When placed on a map this border becomes even more visible.
We here at the Kasper Stromman Stromman Design Blog would from now on like everyone to refer to this new latitude as “the Tropic of Milk Fat”.
Do we have to tell you this is nothing less than a scientific breakthrough?
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