Cities and milk consumption in Europe, 1890-1936: The emergence of a new market in Spain

Ismael Hernández Adell, Josep Pujol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


One of the main features of the European nutritional transition involved the wide-spread increase in milk consumption, a singular process as it involved the emergence of new consumption preferences. This transformation will be examined here using Spain as a case study. Even up until the 1890s milk was not considered a valuable dietary component in Spain, and was normally consumed only by those who were on liquid diets for medical reasons. By the 1930s, however, milk was regarded as a basic foodstuff, especially for children. Our main hypothesis is that cities played a central role in this change in preferences. Large population centres provided an avenue to spread new knowledge of nutrition and food hygiene, while cities allowed social economies of scale that made it easier to implement new public hygiene measures and to publicize or distribute new products. We also show that the spreading of milk consumption in cities progressed slowly in Spain, because until well into the twentieth century supply could only rely on short-range distribution networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-89
JournalHistoria Agraria
Issue number73
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Europe
  • Food supply
  • Milk consumption
  • Urbanization


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