Milk Consumption Down
Chuck Rupnow, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.
Posted Sept 9, 2012
Milk sales last year were the lowest in about three decades, according to federal officials, but that doesn't mean dairy products in general aren't popular with consumers. "Sure, milk consumption may be down, but cheese and yogurt consumption is up, which is good news," Randy Knaap, Chippewa County's UW-Extension agricultural agent, said Tuesday. "Businesses are coming back using specialty cheeses and other dairy products. "I think the industry is doing what it can, but I don't think people realize yet the nutrition and wholesomeness of our milk products." Knapp based his comments on last month's report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that said sales of milk as a beverage fell to the lowest level in nearly 30 years, and more than half the country's adults no longer consume milk. According to the report, U.S. beverage milk sales last year were about 6 billion gallons, the lowest level since 1984. Knapp and other officials believe beverage sales are about the same, but bottled water, teas, sports and energy drinks, and other items have cut into milk consumption. "For me, it's more of a health concern, that people don't know all the health advantage of drinking milk, with its vitamins and nutrients," he said. "Now, we're even learning of the value of drinking chocolate milk after workouts." Protein, carbohydrates and sodium in chocolate milk refuel tired muscles, Knapp said. Lower milk consumption is not impacting area farmers, he said. "It's not having a great impact locally because a lot of milk here goes into cheese products, and there is a niche right now for more flavored cheeses," he said. "That's helping take up some of the slack of less milk consumption." Katie Sternweis, Dunn County's agricultural agent, said higher milk prices may be influencing purchases. "The cost to consumers has gone up and resulted in lower consumption," she said Tuesday. "Those increased costs are due to higher costs for transportation, processing and other items, not as a result of the farmers." Sternweis said milk needs to become the beverage of choice. "Certainly, milk is being used in more sources, which is a plus, but I still think people aren't realizing its overall nutritional value," she said. According to a report in Tuesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program, known for the "Got Milk?" and milk mustache advertising campaigns, said there's been continuous decline in per-capita milk consumption going back further than 1984, and said the dairy industry has chosen breakfast as one of its battlegrounds for increasing milk sales. "It's our territory that we have to defend," Godfrey said. "Breakfast at home accounts for the highest portion of milk consumption, by far, of any meal occasion. So we are going to 'fish where the fishes are.' " Schools are another battleground, said Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management, a national organization that promotes dairy products and is funded by dairy farmers. "If we have 55 million kids going to school each and every day, and we don't present them with a product they like and comes in a handy container, then we have lost them for a lifetime," he said in the Journal-Sentinel report. Rupnow can be reached at 715-830-5831, 800-236-7077 or email@example.com. ©2012 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) Visit the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) at www.leadertelegram.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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