Forget The 'Dairy Cliff' — People Have Been Drinking Less And Less Milk For The Last 30 Years

Spilled milk

Photo: Flickr/Jon Feinstein

Among the many cliffs America faces on Jan. 1 is the “dairy cliff.”That’s the scenario where Congress fails to pass a farm bill to extend agricultural subsidies, which in turn would cause milk prices to soar.

But USDA data shows 2011 milk sales reached their lowest levels since 1984, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Rick Barrett.

In September, Barrett wrote that total U.S. beverage milk sales last year were 53 billion pounds – about 6 billion gallons, he reports. 

Plus, more than half of all adults no longer drink milk at all, data site Informa recently reported.

Here’s a graph showing the decline:

dairy chart milk cliff

Photo: USDA

What’s behind the drop-off?

Barrett talked to Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program known for the “Got Milk?” and milk mustache advertising campaigns.

“Shifting consumer habits and a flood of new beverages in the marketplace, including sports drinks and bottled teas, have taken a toll on beverage milk sales,” Godfrey tells him.

“While Americans consume about the same number of gallons of beverages as they did in the past, they’re drinking a lot less milk.

“Milk has lost out to other beverages, primarily bottled water,” Godfrey says.

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