Milk consumption about to fall below a key threshold

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Since 1970, per capita milk consumption has been in the 20s. It started out in the upper 20s ― 29.8 gallons of per capita fluid milk sales in 1970, to be exact ― and has fallen steadily ever since. Now, it’s precariously close to falling out of the 20s and into the teens. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fluid milk sales totaled 53.739 billion pounds in 2011. If that number is divided by a U.S. population of 311.8 million in the middle part of last year, and then pounds are converted to gallons, the answer is 20.04. To read the USDA report, click here and go to Table 10.

On Monday, declining fluid milk consumption was the topic of this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In the article, Vivian Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program, acknowledges, “Milk has lost out to other beverages, primarily bottled water.”

Bottled water and soft drinks, through branding and innovative marketing, have been able to assume their own distinct identities, whereas milk is largely seen as a commodity.

One solution is to emphasize milk during certain times of day or during certain activities when it is most likely to be used relative to other beverages. Read “Promote milk by the ‘occasion.’”

Also, see “Dairies fight decline in milk consumption.”

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Henry Parsons    
MA  |  September, 05, 2012 at 04:25 AM

Maybe it's time that Tom Gallagher found a new job....and we hired someone who can reverse this trend for a reasonable salary....

WI  |  September, 05, 2012 at 10:01 PM

I agree with Henry, it is time for new mangement at the top. These old fossils have been doing the same thing for 20 years and things have only gotten worse as far as consumption . There answer is to spend more money doing the same thing they have always done and hope for different results. That is the defininition of insanity! Mr Gallagher and Mr Kozak at NMPF are not working for the farmers any more and it is time they pack there bags and get off the gravy train. The proposed Dairy Security Act would only add to the bloated system that is in place now. More government and more bureucracy are not what we need. Please tell your congressman and senators you are not in favor of this boondogle before it is to late.

new england  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:14 AM

Let's face it... US fluid milk sold at retail stores doesn't taste great compared to fluid milk from other developed countries. Maybe the dairy marketing people needs to see what Chobani did to change the taste and market share of yogurt in the US

minn  |  September, 05, 2012 at 09:34 AM

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different out come...... Milk is the worlds most perfect food yet consumption continues to fall???? We need to think outside of the box. Give the consumers what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and HOW they want it, and get rid of the lousy card board containers for starters!!! You will be amazed at what will happen to consumption.

Maury Cox    
Kentucky  |  September, 05, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I agree with the gentleman from MN. If bottled water, soda and beer customers couldn't open the containers on a regular basis and the product had some of the taste of the container, how long would they continue to make that container available? Just asking...

Ohio  |  September, 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM

I was always a big consumer of dairy and dairy products but even I stopped buying fluid milk when the retail price doubled a year ago. Pretty much stopped buying cheese, too. C'mon guys, we have to understand how destructive those sudden dramatic price increases were to our market. Thank goodness people haven't balked at the price of yogurt (I dislike the aroma & taste of yogurt -- been around too many sick calves, I guess). It is going to be a problem, us putting all our eggs in the boutique yogurt basket. Fads die out. But we killed the old standby tried and true milk market when we let retailers slam shoppers with those massive price increases.

Wisconsin  |  September, 05, 2012 at 05:36 PM

The dairy consumer has been a target for every marketing ploy since the dawn of time. The number of people consuming dairy products was vast, and ripe for the picking. Nowadays we have the ability to almost instantaneously spread every concievable piece of garbage to vast munbers of consumers who need to be "informed". What we have to do is look back at when this decline in consumption started and work our way forward. The organic food movement was once just a sputtering bunch of smelly 20 something hippies who are now corporate CEO's and marketing executives. There are BILLIONS of dollars to be made and quite frankly, these self declared food purist don't give a darn how many lies they have to tell to keep the money rolling in. I've seen labels on organic milk tauting the health beneifts of oganic milk without one mention that non-organically produced milk has the same benefits as well. It's bait and switch all the way. The dairy industry hasn't exactly done itself any favors over the years either. Dairy farm numbers have dropped to nearly unsustainable levels while our production has increased. How we did that is now the fodder for every alternative agriculture and anti-dairy group that hops a ride on the whole fooods and animal-rights bandwagon. We've made it too easy for them by using the very same science and technology that the general public was once told would save the earth and feed a hungry world. We only did what they wouldn't do for themselves. Please don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing but with our shinking numbers and greater efficiency the general idea is that if one farmer does something,.... ALL farmers are doing the same thing. Unless of course the producer is an organic producer.

September, 05, 2012 at 07:21 PM

It is time to eliminate the 15 cent farm check off and the 20 cent processor checkoff. What has it done, beside overpay administrators?

WNY  |  September, 06, 2012 at 07:46 AM

Right. Hell, NMPF has told us and told us what a great job they're doing now we learn our market has deteriorated. I suppose NMPF will pull out the Obama argument -- "it's real bad but it would have been so much worse without us feeding off it all this while". So we will keep sending the money, I suppose.

Joe Itle    
Martinsburg, Pa.  |  September, 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM

Taste, flavor, freshness and consistency are the issues that need addressed. Low fat and no fat fluid milk products are detrimental to consumption because there is no flavor or taste. Have you drank any of the no fat flavored milk products that are being offered on the school lunch menu? I have always said when the glass bottle and retail milkman disappeared, reduction in fluid milk consumption was a direct consequence. May I ask what your fluid milk consumption is on a daily basis? I routinely drink about a half gallon in three days. UHT milk offered in restaurants and stores is a poor substitute for fresh milk when it comes to proper flavor and taste. Great for shelf life extension but poor excuse for a good experience in milk consumption. Most of the medical profession recommend low fat or skim milk if you as an individual must drink milk as a beverage. I will guarantee you if you drink such a fluid milk product your daily consumption will decrease. Anytime I go to a dairy meeting, I find I am one of the few who engage in fluid milk consumption. Actions speak better than words.

pa.  |  September, 07, 2012 at 07:21 AM

Now here this,it's not really that important.

Jim F    
WA  |  September, 11, 2012 at 08:47 PM

I switched to soy milk years ago and find it very satisfying and certainly much healthier. I am in my late 70s and have read several reliable studies that link higher rates osteoporosis with higher dairy milk consumption. Be prepared for more health awareness to further decrease milk consumption. It ain't bottled water that is doing it. People are becoming more aware of the high saturated fat, sugar and residual hormones and pesticides in modern mass produced milk. Look around at all the fat people in this country. Dairy products are a large contributor.

Joe Itle    
Pennsylvania  |  September, 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I hope Jim F has checked the high levels of estrogens in soy milk compared to the low levels in cow's milk. I doubt that most overweight people are using an excess level of dairy products in this country.

Washington State  |  September, 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM

I agree with Joe Itle. Just really think about the taste of ultra-pasteurized milk while you're drinking it. It doesn't taste bad but it doesn't taste good either. I think they need to go back to pasteurized.

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