These dairy products cause milk checks


From 2000 to 2018, milk fat levels in the U.S. collective reservoir fell from 3.68 to 3.89 percent. With both an increase in the percentages of milk fat and an increase in milk production, two dairy products continued to absorb more and more milk fat: cheese and butter.

When measured by product requirements (as a percentage of milk fat supply), cheese and butter have absorbed a greater share of the US milk supply year over year. :

  • 54 percent in 2000 (37.7 percent cheese and 16.3 percent butter)
  • 60.4% in 2017 (42.5% cheese and 17.9% butter)

An impressive feat
The contribution of cheese and butter to dairy product sales becomes even more impressive when one takes a closer look at national trends. These additional sales of cheese and butter came even as the US dairy industry produced 2.3 million pounds more fat over that 18-year period. In other words, American milk (measured in pounds) increased 29.8 percent, while milk fat (measured in pounds) soared 37.19 percent.

Two products vanish
As the cheese and butter continued to rise, fluid milk and ice cream continued to slide down. In 2000, the two products accounted for 28.6 percent of all US dairy fat. This total fell to 19.2% in 2017, an overall reduction of 9.4%. Of course, this is based on a percentage of the milk fat supply.

Another way to look at the data is the percentage of skim solids in the milk supply. Fluid milk and ice cream suffered the same fate.

  • Fluid beverage milk fell from 33.8 to 23.1 percent of all skim milk solids from 2000 to 2017.
  • Frozen dairy products (ice cream) fell 4.8 to 3.5 percent of all skim milk solids from 2000 to 2017.

Measured by this metric, whey products, which contain virtually no fat, fell from 9.8 percent to 17.9 percent of the milk supply. Likewise, dry dairy products increased from 7.5 to 11.3 percent, while yogurt increased from 1.4 to 3.6 percent. Based on milk fat, neither did as well.

More key findings
Jerry Cessna, an agricultural economist with the USDA’s Economic Research Department, delved into the data he and his teammates gathered. Here is an additional overview:

  • Milk fat in cheese accounted for about 42.5 percent of the total milk fat supply, an increase from 37.7 percent in 2000.
  • The product group with the largest percentage of total skim solids is liquid drinking milk, at 23.1 percent in 2017. However, this is down from 33.8 percent in 2000.
  • Although sales of fluid milk have declined, the fat content of fluid milk has increased every year since 2013, as sales of whole milk have increased while sales of most other types of fluid drinks have fallen. .

To download the full dataset, click Dairy Data.

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