Modern Milkman doorstep

Modern Milkman delivers milk in glass bottles and a range of groceries in returnable containers

Online grocery delivery service Modern Milkman has acquired its US namesake as part of an ambitious expansion to take its sustainability mission overseas.

The Lancashire-based business said the deal represented “a significant step” in its continued growth.

Like the UK business, the US Modern Milkman delivers milk and soft drinks in reusable glass bottles, as well as eggs, baked goods and other groceries, connecting thousands of households to local farmers and suppliers in their community.

Founder and CEO Simon Mellin said it was a chance acquisition after the two companies discovered one another during a domain search.

“This US acquisition is a testament to our commitment to revolutionise the grocery industry and wipe out waste,” he said.

“Together with our new US team, we share the same name, purpose and vision, and are now ready to make a substantial impact on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Seth Bahler, who founded the US Modern Milkman in 2018, added: “Joining forces with our UK namesake is a natural progression for us.

“Simon and I first connected with one another due to sharing the same name, but our complementary skillsets and shared commitment to fresh produce, convenience, local communities and sustainability are what make this partnership so powerful.”

Modern Milkman UK will retain the US operation’s current staff and continue to invest in growth. The US team plans to expand its presence in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as establishing operations in New York and Rhode Island later in the year.

“Leveraging the robust platform we’ve built in the UK, we’re already making headway in expanding our eco-friendly milk round across the US, with plans to extend into New York very soon,” Mellin said.

Bahler created the US Modern Milkman after 10 years as CEO of Oakridge Dairy, tapping into the demand for home delivery and high-quality, locally grown food. Just like Mellin’s Modern Milkman venture in the UK, the fifth-generation farmer grew the business from a small truck and a few customers into a network consisting of thousands of households.

Sixty million tonnes of food and 80 million tonnes of packaging are wasted in the US each year, but interest in eco-friendly habits continues to grow, with 78% of US consumers saying adopting a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.

“Convenience stores have commoditised food and wrapped it in wasteful packaging, sacrificing our planet and connection with local farmers,” Mellin added. “But with shared goals and a united team, we are perfectly positioned to satisfy the growing appetite for sustainability and make a real difference.

“Our immediate growth trajectory is a clear indication of the potential within the US market. By combining our resources and expertise, Modern Milkman is set to lead the way in sustainable grocery delivery, making a positive impact on the environment and communities on both sides of the ocean.”

Mellin founded the UK business in 2018 with three friends after they were inspired to help reduce the amount of plastic in the oceans by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme.

Since launching, the company has registered average annual growth of more than 300%.

Revenues soared 84% year on year to £45.5m in 2022 as its customer base expanded and basket spend improved. However, losses also ballooned from £15.5m to £23.1m.

The business – which has raised more than £50m over several rounds – has since launched a profitability improvement programme to put it on a more sustainable footing.

Modern Milkman UK delivers milk in glass bottles and collects the empties from customers to reuse. It also offers a range of groceries delivered in returnable containers, while any non-reusable packaging is plastic-free, recyclable or home-compostable.

It claims to have prevented 95 million plastic bottles from polluting the planet so far.