Dairy product consumption continued its growth trajectory despite the pandemic. In fact, American consumers ate more dairy products in eight of the past 10 years.

Known as per capita consumption, the average American consumed 655 pounds of milk in the form of dairy products. That’s according to the 2020 data just released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Overall, dairy has been a growth category moving from 603 to 655 pounds of milk per person from 2010 to 2020. When going back to the creation of the dairy checkoff in 1983, sales have moved from 573 to 655 pounds.

Ice cream and yogurt topped growth

It’s clear that Americans turned to comfort food during the health pandemic as ice cream showed growth for the second straight year . . . growing by 6%. This uptick came after three years of flat or declining sales.

Yogurt consumption grew 3% in 2020. This rebound comes after six years of stalled growth.

Butter continues to boom as it grew 2% in per capita consumption when comparing 2020 to the prior year. The average American consumed 6.3 pounds this past year, according to USDA Economic Research Service’s data on per capita consumption. Overall, butter has held steady or showed positive growth for the past 17 years, dating back to 2002.

Cheese, dairy’s top product category, slipped by 0.2 pounds or 0.44%. Dating back to 1990, the only other year cheese sales slipped was 2008.

Meanwhile, beverage milk held steady in 2020 at 141 pounds per person. When making comparisons, remember that it takes about 100 pounds of milk to make 10 pounds of cheese.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
October 4, 2021
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