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Jan 25, 2023

HOW TOIntroducing Hokkaido Milk and Dairy: Indulgence from Japan’s Far North

Cows raised in Hokkaido’s lush farmlands produce the richest milk in the country. In fact, despite not being a part of the traditional Japanese diet, many consider Hokkaido Dairy among the best in the world.

Jan 25, 2023

Separating Hokkaido dairy from the rest

Japanese natives and foreign visitors who’ve had the pleasure agree that a glass of Hokkaido milk is second to none. The frothy beverage itself and the many dairy products made from it are enjoyed all around Japan, from milk cartons proudly advertising their Hokkaido origins found at all supermarkets to establishments like Starbucks and McDonalds often incorporating Hokkaido milk and cream in their seasonal offerings. 

The fanfare spawns from the milk’s rich flavor and velvety texture, the noticeably more pronounced creaminess and subtle sweetness apparent from a quick sip. Over 50 percent of Japan’s milk now comes from the northern region, which extends into any number of delectable dairy offerings.

A product of nature and nurture

Such high quality milk can’t be produced from the factory-farming methods that dominate large-scale dairy production in much of the world. Japan quickly realized, after dairy was introduced to their diet, that mass-production methods resulted in problems for the cows, their milk, and the surrounding nature.

Instead the cows in Hokkaido, in some places outnumbering humans up to 7:1, graze on lush greenery while freely roaming the pastures. The chilly climate and relative lack of industrialization in the region have kept the soil in Hokkaido’s large swathes of land incredibly fertile, great not only for growing veggies but natural feed for livestock. Add to that the Hokkaido’s farmers attentive and caring treatment of their cows and you get the best milk in Japan. 

Hokkaido cheese, ice cream and more

You don’t need us to tell you that  ice cream, cheese, yogurt, all come from milk, and the dairy products produced in Hokkaido are every bit as scrumptious as you’d think. Perhaps most famous is ‘Hokkaido Soft Cream’ which often incorporates both locally produced milk and produce like melon or even lavender grown from the same soil. 

Cheese from Hokkaido comes in many varieties, though often smooth and mild as preferred by the Japanese palette. Sweet Hookaido creams are used in bakeries for pastries across Japan and if you ever visit the region, you can even try ramen using local Hokkaido butter.

Hokkaido dairy products worldwide

A surprising amount of Hokkaido dairy treats can be found in asian supermarkets around the world or imported straight from Japan. To start with, Kit Kat has rolled out several varieties using Hokkaido dairy over the years. 

Big confectioners like Morinaga make milk candies using Hokkaido milk, and many major potato chip makers like Calbee often produce chips and crackers using Hokkaido butter and Hokkaido cheese. Depending on the time of year you may even find canned coffees and teas using Hokkaido cream to provide extra sweetness, in addition to yogurt drinks year round.