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Milk product consumption changes

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[MAY 27, 2004]  URBANA -- Americans are seeing a change in the types of dairy products available to them, including foods that help the body's immune system and are deployed against skin conditions, said a University of Illinois Extension dairy specialist.

"There are a number of exciting things going on in the dairy industry," said Mike Hutjens as he reviewed it on the approach of June Dairy Month.

Consumers have seen a new campaign aimed at increasing dairy consumption. The "Three-a-Day" program emphasizes the importance of three servings of dairy each day and is funded by Dairy Management Inc., the national marketing organization for dairy.

"We'll also see increased emphasis of the role of dairy products in combating osteoporosis," he said. "We may also see a nutraceutical cheese product that helps the body's immune system, and the Chinese are promoting a cosmeceutical -- a yogurt-based skin conditioner."

Hutjens noted that milk vending machines with flavored milk and string cheese in schools have been successful, paying for themselves within six months by offering students dairy products in varying flavors.

Organic milk currently has a 1 percent share of the U.S. market. Soy-based milk, too, will continue to increase its market share, due to its low saturated oil image, the general positive impression of soy products and the fact that it is sold in the dairy case.

Americans consumed 586 pounds of milk equivalents per person in 2002, the latest year for which figures are available. About 33 percent of that is consumed as fluid milk, 38 percent in cheese, 14 percent in butter and about 9 percent in frozen dairy products. The remainder was split among several dairy products.

Wisconsin continues to lead the country in cheese production at 2.2 billion pounds, followed by California at 1.7 billion pounds. Illinois has a claim to fame itself, being the No. 2 state in production of cream cottage cheese and the No. 4 state in production of low-fat cottage cheese.


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Milk products on the rise include flavored milk, for which use is up 14 percent during 2002, the latest year for which data is available; yogurt, up 5.7 percent; cheese, up 2 percent; and sour cream, up nearly 3 percent. Dropping were frozen desserts, by 2 percent; buttermilk, down nearly 5 percent; and fat-free milk, down 3.5 percent.

The No. 1 U.S. milk drinkers live in Des Moines, Iowa, consuming on average 19.1 gallons yearly. Right behind them are the citizens of Green Bay, Wis., who swallow 17.5 gallons on average per year. Chicago milk drinkers down 9.2 gallons yearly, which is below the U.S. national average of 11.6 gallons.

In the past year, 35 companies have introduced a total of 16 new milk flavors, including 30 varieties of chocolate and 26 of vanilla. New flavors being tested include peach, raspberry, eggnog and lemon.

Des Moines folks also top the ice cream eating category at 2.8 gallons per year per person, compared with the U.S. average of 1.9 gallons. Vanilla is the No. 1 flavor, with a 25.5 percent share of sales.

Mexico and Japan are the best customers for U.S. milk products.

Hutjens said milk prices have gone up 50 cents to 80 cents per gallon, cheese up 60 cents to $1 per pound and butter $1.20 to $1.50 per pound.

"Consumers should know, however, that when milk was $2.50 per gallon, the dairy farmer only got about 40 percent of the price. Even when the price rose to $3.50 per gallon, the producers still received only about 40 percent of the price," he noted.

"Consumers can expect milk prices to decline by about 25 cents per gallon in late August and 50 cents a gallon in early winter, based on the Chicago futures market."

[University of Illinois news release]


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