We just don’t drink milk like we used to.
The USDA still recommends 3 eight-ounce glasses a day, but it doesn’t seem we’re heeding the advice. In the past 45 years our consumption of milk has dropped by 41%, leaving dairy farmers struggling for existence, and milk producers in a pinch. Modern milking techniques used by farmers has reduced the number of farms and cows needed to meet demand, and there’s a glut on the market as China and Russia move from the world’s biggest milk importers to entire self-sufficiency, and high prices for raw product paid by manufacturers without an increase in their average price that’s passed on to consumers is driving them out of business.Two of the biggest milk producers, Borden’s Dairy and Dean Foods, have filed for bankruptcy.
Food industry analyst Bob Goldin, co-founder and partner at Pentallect, says it’s a sign of the times. “I don’t think there’s a single reason for the decline. I think it’s a multiple set of factors,” he tells KTRH News.Primary among them is how we’ve changed breakfast habits, which had been the traditional meal that often involved milk. “Oh the industry has been a nightmare,” Goldin says. “Dean and Borden declaring bankruptcy, and I know a lot of dairy farms are in trouble. Meantime, a couple big retailers like Walmart have opened their own dairies.”Goldin says more meals are being consumed away from home, especially breakfast, and we’ve developed enough alternative beverages to fill aisle after aisle in grocery stores. He says the Got Milk” advertising campaign helped a little, for a while, but the social changes have taken their toll.In the meantime, though, consumption of other dairy products like cheese and yogurt are on the rise, so cows at least have something to live for.