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Dairy consumption reaches all-time high

nevodka/iStock/Thinkstock Dairy products including milk, cheese, butter and yogurt displayed on white wood
Per capita dairy consumption has risen 21% since 1975, when USDA first started tracking.

Americans are turning to dairy products at a rate never seen before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS). New ERS data on annualized per capita consumption of dairy point to the cheese, butter and yogurt categories driving substantial growth in per capita consumption of dairy, which reached a record high in 2019.

“Since the USDA began tracking per capita dairy consumption in the 1970s, the trend has continued upward for five straight decades, increasing 21% since 1975,” said Dr. Michael Dykes, president and chief executive officer of the International Dairy Foods Assn. “While Americans have always turned to dairy products as fresh, nutritious staples in their diets, they also value the versatility of dairy in new, delicious and more accessible products. Thanks to its continued innovation and ingenuity, the dairy industry is poised to continue to grow and deliver nutritious products for Americans.”

USDAU.S. dairy products consumption.jpg

In the past decade alone, domestic per capita consumption is up 19% for cheese, up 24% for butter and up 7% for yogurt. Per capita consumption of ice cream also rebounded in 2019, increasing by a half-percentage over 2018. Overall, ERS data show Americans' per capita consumption across dairy products consistently increasing each year, with 2019 up 6% over the past five years, 10% over the past 15 years and 16% over the past 30 years.

“The product mix in most demand by consumers is changing — we eat more dairy than we drink these days — and dairy, on the whole, continues to grow,” Dykes said.

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