All those \”Got Milk?\” advertisements are trying to push back against the tide: U.S. milk consumption has been falling for several decades. Jeanine Bentley of the US Department of Agriculture lays out some \”Trends in U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Dairy Products, 1970-2012\” (June 2, 2014). Here\’s the decline in milk.
The decline seems to be part of a generational shift in what people choose to drink. Bentley explains:
\”A 2013 ERS [Economic Research Service] study found that while Americans continue to drink about 8 ounces of fluid milk when they drink milk, they are consuming it less frequently than in the past. Americans are especially less apt to drink milk at lunchtime and with dinner. National food consumption surveys reveal that Americans born in the early 1960s drank milk 1.5 times a day as teenagers, 0.7 times a day as young adults, and 0.6 times a day in middle age. In contrast, Americans born in the early 1980s entered their teenage years drinking milk just 1.2 times a day and were drinking milk 0.5 times a day as young adults. Competition from other beverages—especially carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water—is likely contributing to the changes in frequency of fluid milk
consumption. In addition, substitutes for cow’s milk (including nut milks, coconut milk, and soy milk) have provided alternatives for consumers.\”
(In case you are wondering what the \”availability\” of milk means in the figure title, here is Bentley\’s explanation: \”ERS’s [Economic Research Service\’s] food availability data calculate the annual supply of a commodity available for humans to eat by subtracting measurable nonfood use (farm inputs, exports, and ending stocks) from the sum of domestic supply (production, imports, and beginning stocks). Per capita estimates are determined by dividing the total annual supply of the commodity by the U.S. population for that year. Although these estimates do not directly measure actual quantities ingested, they serve as a proxy for Americans\’ food consumption over time.)