“Our biggest ally is the consumer. Dairy product consumption is at the highest level since 1959. That’s an incredible endorsement,” shared Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “Dairy fits consumers’ sweet spot of taste, nutrition, affordability, and availability,” he went on to say at the annual gathering of NMPF, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, and the United Dairy Industry Association.
Many headlines have been written of dairy losing sales to plant-based beverages. However, that has not been true as of late. “Plant-based beverage sales have been falling this past year,” shared Alan Bjerga, NMPF senior vice president of communications, as he pointed to a graphic illustrating a year-over-year reduction in sales as measured on a weekly basis.
The towering category
“Dairy towers over plant-based alternatives in both size and absolute growth. The most recent data indicates there were $79.9 billion in sales for real dairy versus $3.8 billion for plant-based alternatives,” explained John Crawford, IRI’s vice president of client insights for dairy.
While real dairy has had a slighter lower growth rate on a percentage basis, the category is growing from a base that is 21 times larger than the plant-based category. “The 52-week rolling average, on a percentage basis, is 5% for real dairy versus 7.4% for plant-based growth,” said Crawford to those gathered at the Aurora, Colo., meeting.
“Dairy is a powerhouse category,” explained Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), later at the same meeting. “Overall, 96% of U.S. households contain dairy (products), dairy is the top edible aisle at retail, 18% of milk solids are moving to exports, and, in the U.S., the category accounts for 667 pounds consumed per person,” continued the dairy checkoff leader. “This includes dairy product gains in cheese, butter, and yogurt.”
“The most important message I want to leave you with is one of opportunity,” concluded Randy Mooney, board chairman of NMPF. “When we work together, we can seize opportunities that exist in every drop of milk.”