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A Land of Milk and ButterHow Elites Created the Modern Danish Dairy Industry$
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Markus Lampe and Paul Sharp

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226549507

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226549644.001.0001

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The Spread of Modern Dairying beyond the Estates: The Rise of the Cooperatives

The Spread of Modern Dairying beyond the Estates: The Rise of the Cooperatives

(p.178) 9 The Spread of Modern Dairying beyond the Estates: The Rise of the Cooperatives
A Land of Milk and Butter

Markus Lampe

Paul Sharp

University of Chicago Press

We summarize the traditional narrative about how the invention of the steam powered automatic cream separator (a centrifuge) allowed for the centralization of peasant production of butter through cooperative creameries, which came to dominate the industry from the 1880s. We show how elites, often the merchants discussed in chapter 7, played a crucial role in this process, however, by promoting the establishment of so-called community creameries, which were sometimes privately owned, but often shared many characteristics in common with the cooperatives (including shared ownership), and they can thus be seen as a sort of evolutionary predecessor. This nuances somewhat the idea that cooperatives came to outcompete private, capitalistic forms of ownership, since the private sector was mostly these small community creameries (which often simply converted to formal cooperatives) and the traditional landed estates, which had little opportunity for expansion. Finally, we present the results of an econometric analysis of the determinants of the productivity advances in butter making, finding evidence that this was mostly due to the new technology, the centrifuge, rather than the cooperative institution.

Keywords:   automatic cream separator, cooperatives, institutions, production technology, technological progress

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