11 December 2012

Got milk?

In an age of vitamin waters and energy drinks, the decadeslong decline in U.S. milk consumption has accelerated, worrying dairy farmers, milk processors and grocery chains.

The industry "is coming to recognize this as a crisis," says Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., a farmer-funded trade group that promotes milk products. "We cannot simply assume that we will always have a market."

Per-capita U.S. milk consumption, which peaked around World War II, has fallen almost 30% since 1975, even as sales of yogurt, cheese and other dairy products have risen, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. The reasons include the rise in popularity of bottled waters and the concern of some consumers that milk is high in calories.

Another factor, according to the USDA, is that children, who tend to be heavy milk drinkers, account for a smaller share of the U.S. population than they once did.
Further details at the Wall Street Journal.


  1. Milk's competition is not limited to bottled waters and energy drinks. Their biggest competitors may well be 2-liter soft drinks. While the price of milk rises (and occasionally falls), the price of soda remains remarkably consistent. And when milk gets more expensive, many less affluent families must search for alternatives. Sadly, the alternative to a gallon of milk is often a two-liter bottle of Coke.

    The impact can be seen in the rise of childhood obesity and dental problems. And I can't help but wonder if the decline in milk consumption in the US might have something to do with the fact that the American public is getting shorter on average, while countries with high milk consumption per capita (such as Denmark) have seen the average height grow.

  2. What about those of us who become lactose-intolerant as we get older? I MUST have milk in my coffee, so I use Lactaid. But for everything else, it's almond or soy milk.

    The human body is a system: there are many factors besides nutrition that go into growing a healthy child. Of those factors besides nutrition is depression and stress. Dr.Robert Sapolsky has videos on youtube explaining how too much stress on a child will cause a child to be shorter than normal. It's too long to get into, but very interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAgplgTxfc

  3. I too suspect 2 liter bottles full of fizzy sugar-water are partly responsible. A gallon of soda pop costs 1/2 what a gallon of milk does.

  4. Another reason for the decline may be that as we age, we lose the enzymes to digest cows milk.

    1. Some of us lose them. Others never had them to begin with.

  5. In our house milk consumption has never gone down. We can run through a litre of milk in a heartbeat - and there's only 2 of us plus the cat!

    However a large number of my friends either never drank milk as kids or can't take the lactose. There also seems to be a general opinion that milk drinking is something "kids do", not adults. AND I have seen sugar water (in all of it's forms) being used as a cheaper replacement in some homes.

  6. Isn't this partially a good thing? One of the biggest global-warming arguments I come across relates to the resources required to fuel dairy farms and the like. If we're drinking less milk, won't that mean fewer resources needed to run the industry, reducing the carbon footprint?

    I suppose if people are abandoning milk in favour of less healthy, sugary drinks, that will have a negative effect on general health, which is a bad thing. But we could abandon milk for, say, water, and get our calcium from broccoli. Just a thought.


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