Milk is made up of water, milk fat and skim solids. Skimmed solids include protein, lactose, minerals and trace elements. The average percentages of milk fat and skim solids in farm milk (cow’s milk from dairy farms) have increased over the past two decades. In 2000, US farm milk contained an average of 3.68% milk fat and 8.72% skim solids. By 2020, the percentage of milk fat had increased to 3.95% and the percentage of skim solids had increased to 8.94%. For skim solids, the content increased gradually from 2000 to 2020, while milk fat content started to increase in 2011, after remaining relatively stable from 2000 to 2010.
the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the USDA and the United States Food and Drug Administration, recommend “fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt such as alternatives”. Although dietary guidelines continue to recommend low-fat dairy products, some studies that have received mainstream media attention have indicated fewer health risks from milk fat consumption than previously thought. previously. Other studies have suggested that milk fat has nutritional benefits. Therefore, the demand for high fat dairy products has increased significantly over the past decade. By adjusting production practices or switching to breeds that produce milk that is higher in fat, farmers have been able to increase the fat content of milk. While Holstein cows – the iconic black and white (or sometimes red and white) dairy cows – remain the predominant breed of dairy cow in the United States, farms are increasingly turning to other breeds, such as Jersey cows, which produce milk that is higher in fat. naturally. Improvements in the genetics of major breeds and better quality livestock feeds have also contributed to the increasing richness of milk.
Consumption trends shape the distribution of components in fluid milk and cheese
The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) tracks the percentage of dairy fat and skim solids allocated or used among different dairy products in Supply and allocation of milk fat and skimmed solids by productfound at ERS Dairy data Web page. Data shows that changes in consumption patterns from 2000 to 2019 (the most recent year for which complete data is available) influenced the milk fat and skim solids percentages of the two largest dairy product categories , fluid milk for drinking (hereafter simply referred to as fluid milk), and cheese.
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