According to the Wall Street Journal, milk sales has dropped nearly 30% since 1975 leaving the dairy industry in crisis.
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. – Wall Street Journal
As much as the industry would like to believe that this reasoning is true, there might be a little more to the reasoning than what the industry might see as poor marketing. One of the most powerful, or at least one of the most memorable ad campaigns in my lifetime was dairy industries ‘Got Milk’ campaign where some of the biggest celebrities and athletes in the world at the time would pose with a milk mustache. Some of the ads were so sexy, that teenage boys all around America had ads like this one covering their walls. Along with smaller packaging for on-the-go drinking, they hammered at the young market as an attempt to drum up sales that would in turn last for years to come.
What might be the straw that broke the camels back might be a blow the industry might never be able to recover from. An educated consumer.
One of the greatest selling points of milk is now, and always has been, its high levels of calcium. The industry promotes drinking milk as a way to grow strong and healthy bones in children and prevent osteoporosis in the elderly, but a study published in Pediatrics in 2005 showed that milk does not improve bone health in children. Also, the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study,which studied more than 72,000 women for 18 years, showed no protective effect of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. There are plenty of foods rich in calcium, such as kale, oranges, sardines, soy, oatmeal, and lots of other natural foods.
Lactose intolerance is also a key factor with nearly 80% of African Americans and Hispanics, nearly 100% of Native Americans, and around 15% of Caucasians. With the African American and Hispanic populations growing at the rate that it is, maintaining growth in an industry which is not viable to these population simply is not possible. For these populations, it’s like putting out a sexy ad out for Raid telling people to drink it. It’s just not going to work.
Vitamin D is also a big selling point for milk. Well, in all reality, the human body gets all the vitamin D it needs from 15 minutes in the sun.
Does anyone else find it strange that we’re the only animal in the entire world who drinks milk beyond infancy? Not only that, but from another animal? It’s not often we see grown men and women drinking milk from a lactating woman at the mall, but if you think about it, it is more natural. Creepy, but natural.
Now, milk is not much different from the corn or soy industry. It relies heavily on subsidies from the United States government to keep prices down and to stay afloat. The government had spent nearly 4.9 billion dollars from 1995-2011 to subsidize the industry. I’m not against helping out those who need it, but the fact that the industry could simply cut back production in order to save the production costs that are driving up the need for the subsidies.
I’m not against the dairy industry. I do, from time to time, suck up the pain (I suffer from Crohn’s disease and lactose intolerance) for a taste of some of my favorite ice cream, and I do like good cheese every now and then, though it’s usually goat cheese, I do feel that the industry has gone a little out of control. Milk is something, like anything else, that should be consumed in moderation. I do feel bad that there are farmers who are taking losses, but the reality of the industry is, most of the farmers who are taking a hit are not the small independent farms. These are the big industrial farms who are often owned by corporations who care little about the true farmers.
I say let the industry crash. It was never sustainable in the first place. In the ashes will be the small, independent dairy farmer who had built their farms on a sustainable model rather than a corporate one.
That’s my 2 cents.
Here are a list of studies and publications you can research yourself.
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