"Farmers get only 30 cents from every $1 spent,” read the headline in the March 26, 2018, Hoard’s Dairyman Intel.
When consumers spent $1 on dairy products in 2017, dairy farmers received 30 cents of that dollar, according to USDA’s economic research service.
Not all dairy products are the same.
When it comes to whole milk, farmers received 51 cents from every $1, while cheese netted 32 cents. That return dropped to 19 cents for ice cream.
Where does dairy rank?
“Interesting article on dairy farmers getting 30 cents for each dollar consumers spend,” wrote Ginny Rassier of Osceola, Wis. “How does that compare to other agricultural products such as fruits, veggies, and meat?”
USDA tracks a basket of food items. While meat is not on its list, a number of fruits and vegetables do get tracked. We took a look at those returns with a dairy lens.
Nothing tops beverage milk
When it comes to returning revenue to U.S. farmers, whole milk is king. As mentioned earlier, it returned 51 cents from every $1 spent by consumer.
Five items finished ahead of cheese
Last year, cheese returned 32 cents from every $1 spent by consumers. In 2017, five items topped cheese:
1. Iceberg lettuce returned 38 cents for every $1
2. Fresh broccoli returned 36 cents
3. Fresh peaches returned 35 cents
4. Fresh strawberries returned 34 cents
5. Fresh grapes returned 32 cents
Ten items did better than ice cream
In addition to the aforementioned five fresh produce items, five additional items returned more revenue than ice cream’s 19 cents per $1:
6. Fresh apples returned 31 cents for every $1
7. Fresh pears returned 26 cents
8. Fresh lemons returned 24 cents
9. Fresh tomatoes returned 23 cents
10. Fresh oranges returned 19 cents (tying with ice cream)
A smaller share
There were some items that returned even less revenue to growers than ice cream:
11. Orange juice, 18 or 27 cents. This happened to be a tough one to judge as orange juice “frozen concentrate” netted orange growers 27 cents, while orange juice “not from concentrate” returned only 18 cents.
12. Fresh grapefruit returned 18 cents for every $1
13. Fresh potatoes returned 15 cents
14. Flour, white, all-purpose returned 14 cents
An important takeaway
When looking through returns, nearly every item has the word “fresh” in front of it. That implies that frozen or canned fruits and vegetable provide even less revenue to farmers.