Got milk? Fluid milk volumes continue to decline, despite covid retail bump, but it’s not terminal, insists MilkPep


But it’s not terminal, insists MilkPep (The Milk Processor Education Program, funded by the nation’s milk companies) which highlights pockets of growth in value-added areas of the market such as organic, lactose-free, ultrafiltered high-protein milks, A2 milks, and functional dairy products.

I think the demise of milk is greatly exaggerated​,” said MilkPep CEO Yin Woon Rani, formerly chief consumer experience officer at Campbell Soup, who took the helm at MikPep in October 2019. “It’s still a huge category with a lot of growth areas, although there’s some natural attrition, and I wouldn’t have taken this job if I thought it was in terminal decline.

“40% of the category is actually growing,” ​she told FoodNavigator-USA. “And so, like any big portfolio there’s parts of growth and part of constriction. It’s still​ [consumed] in 94% of households.”

US retail sales of lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk rose 13.5% in the 52 weeks to July 3, 2021

According to Nielsen data, US retail dollar sales of cow’s milk were down -1.4% in the 52 weeks to July 3, 2021, while sales of lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk were up +13.5%.

Sales of dairy alternatives were up +12.1% over the same period, driven by strong growth in oatmilk (+105%) and almondmilk (+5.9%), although ricemilk, coconutmilk and soymilk experience a drop in year-on-year sales.

However, plant-based milks are not solely responsible for the decline in sales of fluid dairy milk, with a 2020 report​​​​ from the USDA’s economic research service noting that the increase in sales of plant-based milks between 2013 and 2017 was one-fifth the size of the decrease in Americans’ purchases of cow’s milk, suggesting that other factors are clearly at play, said Rani.



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