For decades, fluid milk sales in the United States were over 50 billion pounds annually. Sales dropped below that level in 2015 and have continued to track lower the eight years since then.

Last year, sales of fluid milk were 43.45 billion pounds, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). That was down 2.4% or 1.07 billion pounds from 2021.

That decline in 2022 follows a 1.85 billion pound drop-off in sales from 2020 to 2021. Sales of fluid milk have fallen nearly 12 billion pounds since reaching a high point in 2009.

On the bright side, sales of whole milk improved in 2022. At 16.02 billion pounds, whole milk sales were up 1.3% from the year before. Still, whole milk sales of today pale in comparison to nearly 50 years ago, when more than 36 billion pounds of whole milk were sold annually. Dropping steadily since then, sales of whole milk have been below 30 billion pounds since 1981 and 20 billion pounds since 1993.

Sales of flavored milk (other than whole) were also improved in 2022, up 3.1% to 3.47 billion pounds. This category hit a record high in 2010 at 3.98 billion pounds and has sat over 3 billion pounds for 20 of the last 21 years.

Meanwhile, other categories of fluid milk saw a decline in sales. Reduced fat (2%) milk was down 5.2% to 13.85 billion pounds. Low-fat (1%) sales dropped 8% to 5.02 billion pounds. Skim milk sales fell even further, by 8.6%, to 2.46 billion pounds. Sales of flavored whole milk were also down 5.6%, landing at 765 million pounds.

The number of fluid milk plants in 2022 held nearly steady, coming in at 463, just three fewer than the year before. The average volume of milk handled by each plant was 93.8 million pounds.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
September 11, 2023

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