No More Milk? Consumption is on a Decline

June 6, 2013

2 Min Read
No More Milk? Consumption is on a Decline

WASHINGTONAmericans are drinking less and less fluid milk. Since 1970, per capita fluid milk consumption has fallen from 0.96 cup-equivalents per day to about 0.61 cup-equivalents per day with each generation consuming less than the previous one, according to a new report from the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS).

In the report, "Why Are Americans Consuming Less Fluid Milk? A look at Generational Differences in Intake Frequency," researchers analyzed data from five USDA dietary intake surveys, including data from the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted between the 1970s and 2000s. Findings show that between the 1970s and 2000s, people have become less likely to drink fluid milk at mealtimes, especially with midday and nighttime meals, reducing the total number of consumption occasions. One of the more striking changes in milk consumption can be seen in young children. Between 1977 to 1978 and 2007 to 2008, the share of preadolescent children who did not drink fluid milk on a given day grew from 12% to 24%, while the share that drank milk three or more times a day dropped from 31% to 18%. In comparison to this data, the share of adults and adolescents who did not drink milk on any given day rose from 41% to 54%, while the share that drank milk at least three times a day dropped from 13% to 4%. Further, succeeding generations of Americans born after the 1930s have consumed fluid milk less often than their preceding generations. Americans born in the early 1960s consume fluid milk on 1.1 fewer occasions per day than those born before 1930 and Americans born in the early 1980s drank milk on 0.3 fewer occasions per day than those born in the early 1960s.

Fluid milk consumption may be in terminal decline. The report points out that differences across the generations in fluid milk intake will most likely make it difficult to reverse current consumption trends. Moreover, as new generations replace older ones, the population's average level of milk consumption may continue to decline. The declining trend may have health implications as most Americans do not consume enough dairy products. The 2010  Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 cup-equivalents per day for children ages 2 to 3, 2.5 for those ages 4 to 8 and 3 cup-equivalents for Americans older than 8 years.

With the popularity of plant-based diets on the rise, consumers are turning their attention away from milk-based beverages and increasingly seeking plant-based dairy alternative drinks. For more information visit the article Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives on the Rise.

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