Broguiere’s Dairy in Montebello, Whose Glass Milk Bottles Are a SoCal Staple, to Close After Nearly 100 Years

Egg nog from Broguiere’s Dairy is seen in an image tweeted by Gelson's Markets in 2014.

Egg nog from Broguiere’s Dairy is seen in an image tweeted by Gelson’s Markets in 2014.

Broguiere’s Dairy, a family business whose nostalgic glass bottles of milk and egg nog generated a cultlike following, is folding after a nearly 100-year run in Montebello, one of its stockists announced this week.

The closure will be permanent, though the company will keep its store at 505 S. Maple Ave. open a few more months, Gelson’s Markets said in a Monday Facebook post.

Gelson’s has already stopped receiving shipments of the milk, and on June 5 Broguiere’s will stop honoring deposits for their beloved glass bottles bearing the slogan “Milk so fresh…the cow doesn’t know it’s missing,” the grocer said.

Broguiere’s products were also stocked at Bristol Farms, Pavilions, Vons, Sprouts and some Stater Bros. Markets and Ralphs locations.

Many across Southern California have expressed their shock at the news, including Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian.

“They have been a staple in our community, and an institution for many generations,” Hadjinian wrote in a tweet. “Their products were of the highest quality and … promoted our City on every glass bottle of milk sold.”

The business got its start in the early 1920s, when French immigrant Ernest Broguiere bought a lemon grove on Maple Avenue, later converting it to a dairy operation after the citrus market proved unprofitable. It started with a single Holstein and a horse-drawn wagon delivering the glass bottles door-to-door, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But tides have changed since then.

After growing to 150 cows on a 5-acre farm, the family sold off the dairy in 1965 and began sourcing their milk from another operation in San Jacinto, according to the 2001 Times profile.

The industry has only been getting squeezed further into consolidation in recent years, with falling milk prices and new government regulations pushing many smaller dairies to leave the state, sell or lease their land or diversify into other commodities. Recent tariff wars with China and Mexico haven’t helped.

Since peaking in 2014, the average price producers get for their milk has dropped nearly a third and has sat below the cost of production for years, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, herds of fewer than 100 cows make up 64.3% of California’s dairies but only 10.9% of milk sales, while herds with 500 or more cows, 8.8% of those in the state, make up 68.1% of milk sales, state Department of Food and Agriculture data shows.

The market trends are forcing many producers out of business, Rob Vandenheuvel, senior vice president of member and industry relations at California Dairies Inc., told Agri-Pulse.

“Water availability, air and water quality regulations are all more expensive and costly here, but our milk price is among the lowest in the country,” he said. “So, when you have some of the highest cost and one of the lowest prices, it’s a challenge, no doubt about it.”

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