Milk consumption has been on a steady decline. Today, the average person in the United States drinks 9 fewer gallons of milk on an annual basis than he or she did in the early 1970s.  

Despite the trend, producers, restaurants and marketers have found a way to make milk more appealing, and that is through flavored milk — traditional chocolate and some not-so-traditional flavors like coffee, orange and root beer.

“There is something about chocolate milk that makes it much more fun,” said Tamara Browning, a mother of one-year-old twins from Lebanon, Tenn. “My children refuse to drink plain milk, but love chocolate. We buy nearly three times as much flavored milk as we do regular.”

According to milkdelivers.org, people love choices. Providing flavoring options for consumers increases the excitement for and consumption of milk. This can include typical flavors such as chocolate and strawberry milk, but also alternative flavors such as root beer, mocha or lime.

Last fall, Shatto Milk Company in Osborn, Mo., came out with coffee-flavored milk.

"It's been a big hit," says Barb Shatto. "It's been phenomenal, actually. Our sales, so far, have exceeded expectations," she adds.

Coffee-flavored milk plays off the recent trend in coffee specialty drinks, such as frappes and cappuccinos.

Shatto Milk Company also sells orange- and banana-flavored milk. The orange-flavored milk has a taste similar to an orange creamsicle.

"Kids think it's fun (to have these flavors)," Barb Shatto says. "It makes it more exciting for them."

This information was echoed by a study conducted through the National Dairy Council. Schools without flavored milk options saw milk consumption drop an average of 35 percent. This decline came from students either choosing other beverage options or throwing away unwanted milk.

“When I give my children strawberry or vanilla flavored milk it is almost like a treat,” said Brooke Grantham, of Nixa, Mo. “It doesn’t taste like milk, but is more like a dessert. My kids can still get the nutrients that they need, but they can also enjoy what they are drinking also.”