A few years ago, I did a survey of drink products at common shopping centers and convenience stores and came to the conclusion that less than 8 percent of total beverage sales were dairy based. Most all type of drinks inventoried and sold were sodas, slushes, ice teas, beer, juices, punch drinks, lemonades, and so forth. Less than 8 percent of the drinks were dairy, including milk, chocolate milk, skim milk, yogurt, buttermilk, and so forth.
I have come to the conclusion that stores inventory what sells, thus, what sells is 92 percent nondairy-based drinks.
This is what the public drinks, this is what the stores inventory. Is it no wonder that the market share for dairy is shrinking, as discussed in the Hoard's Dairyman Intel "Dairy farmers have lost retail market share"? It's no wonder that small/medium dairy farms are disappearing. Dairy drinks cannot compete with nondairy drinks.
If we are to raise that 8 percent at all, we need to educate our young people on the nutritional value of dairy drinks and the detrimental effects of nondairy drinks. As I see it, this can only begin in the elementary and middle school grades of our school systems.
Our children need to know that there are good drinks and not-so-good drinks that affect their growth and health. This education needs to be supported in the home and at all social events where drinks of any kind are offered. If we don't, not only will our children grow up to be unhealthy, raising the cost of health care, but our small and medium-sized dairy farms will all but disappear from the countryside.
If dairy farms disappear, then jobs go, educational institutions that teach agriculture will diminish, and a large segment of out heritage will be gone forever.
- John Mitchell, Florida
July 18, 2016