Why Is No One Drinking Milk?

Milk consumption hits lowest numbers since 1984, making the dairy industry worry

Your plate of cookies and bowl of cereal must be feeling lonely: New reports show that milk consumption in America is at a new low, at about 6 billion gallons. That's the lowest figure since 1984. The newest numbers have everyone, most notably the dairy industry, asking — got milk? 

The problem may not just be in changing tastes (and health concerns), but in changing lifestyles. As TIME and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel point out, fewer Americans are eating breakfast each morning, and what does one need for that bowl of cereal? Gotcha. It's why the dairy industry is battling for breakfast-at-the-table, said Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program (and the mastermind behind the "got milk?" campaign) to the Journal-Sentinel. "It's our territory that we have to defend," Godfrey said. "Breakfast at home accounts for the highest portion of milk consumption, by far, of any meal occasion. So we are going to 'fish where the fishes are.'" 

Another battleground for milk? Schools. The beloved milk carton is feeling neglected, as kids reach more for the sodas, teas, and sugary drinks at school. Making matters worse, some schools have cut back on flavored milks, strawberry and chocolate, because health advocates decry their sugar content (even though Olympians drink chocolate milk!). As a result, milk consumption at those schools has dropped even more, up to 76 percent. 

However, there is some hope: Organic milk producers have seen sales grow. The Progressive Dairyman quoted a study from Cornell University, which found that organic milk sales have increased by about 20 percent, while regular milk sales decreased by three percent.