The popularity of plant-based alternatives, like nut milks, could be to blame.
alt milk
Credit: Sidney Bensimon

From a decline in cheese sales to the booming popularity of alternative milks, there's no doubt Americans' craving for dairy is changing. In fact, according to new numbers from the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), sales for dairy milk have seen some sizable changes too: a $1.1 billion decline in 2018, to be exact.

Although Americans purchased nearly $14.7 billion worth of dairy milk in 2017, last year-when the rise of oat milk consumed both the food and wellness worlds-dairy sales only hit $13.6 billion. According to the DFA, this drop in sales isn't only due to the popularity of alternative milks, but was also impacted by the lower price of dairy milks. "There really isn't a big story here beyond the depressed milk prices," DFA Vice President for corporate communications Kristen Coady told The Daily Meal. "In fact, if you dig deeper, you'll see that DFA marketed fairly similar amounts of raw milk in 2017 versus 2018 (64.4 billion pounds in 2017 versus 64.5 billion pounds in 2018).

However, research firm MarketsandMarkets notes that sales for non-dairy products like plant-based milks, ice creams, and creamers are also expected to more than double-from $17.3 billion to $29.6 billion-over the next three years. What's fueling our plant-based milk cravings? Some may say it's due to the popularity of vegan diets, while others are consuming less dairy for health reasons.

Whatever the reasons, dairy industry officials are responding by pushing for stricter packaging on non-dairy products, making it clear that the products are alternatives and not actual "milk." Still a dairy fan? Get inspired with our favorite recipes featuring milks, creams, and cheeses.


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