US Milk Sales Drop to Lowest in Nearly 30 Years, Trailing Soda, Bottled Water, Beer
US milk sales in 2011 fell to the lowest level since 1984, according to US Department of Agriculture figures released in Aug. 2012. US milk consumption averaged 20.04 gallons per person in 2011, down from a high of 29.8 gallons in 1970.
“We have known there’s been a continuous decline in per-capita milk consumption for many years,” said Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program known for the “Got Milk?” and milk mustache advertising campaigns. “Milk has lost out to other beverages…”
According to Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., a national organization that promotes dairy products and is funded by dairy farmers, “If we don’t see fundamental changes in the milk business, and I don’t mean incremental changes, then milk is going to become an irrelevant beverage at some point.”
Milk is the fourth most consumed beverage in the United States, behind carbonated soft drinks (44.7 gallons per person), bottled water (28.3), and beer (20.8). Energy drinks have seen the largest percentage increase in consumption in recent years, moving from .5 gallons per person in 2005 to 1.2 gallons in 2010.
The average consumption of milk has sharply decreased for children and adolescents since the late 1970s, and the percentage of individuals reporting any milk consumption has declined in all age groups. The percentage of children and adolescents reporting daily milk consumption was 76% in 1978 but only 42% in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The US Department of Agriculture wrote in a statement that consuming milk “provides health benefits – people who have a diet rich in milk and milk products can reduce the risk of low bone mass throughout the life cycle. Foods in the milk group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.”
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine commented that milk products “pose health risks for children and encourage the development of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease… Milk and dairy products are not necessary in the diet and can, in fact, be harmful to health.”
Sales of yogurt and other dairy products have increased to offset the decline in milk consumption. Yogurt and cheese consumption is up 400% from 30 years ago, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Rick Barrett, “US Milk Sales Reach Lowest Level in Decades,” jsonline.com, Sep. 3, 2012
Bill Bruce, “US Fluid Milk Consumption Hits 30 Year Low,” foodbev.com, Sep. 7, 2012
Courtenay Edelhart, “Dairies Fight Decline in Milk Consumption,” bakersfieldcalifornian.com, Sep. 6, 2012
Amy Scott, “Milk Consumption at Lowest in Decades,” marketplace.org, Sep. 6, 2012
Brad Tuttle, “Got Milk? Increasingly, the Answer Is No,” moneyland.time.com, Sep. 7, 2012
United States Department of Agriculture, “Dairy Market Statistics: 2011 Annual Summary,” ams.usda.gov, June 2012
World Dairy Diary, “Fluid Milk Consumption Hits 30-Year Low,” wdexpo.org, Sep. 5, 2012
Natalie Zmuda, “Bottoms Up! A Look at America’s Drinking Habits,” adage.com, June 27, 2011