Aug. 5 2013 09:14 AM

How can the dairy industry work against the odds?

The way we grow up has more of an affect on our habits than one would think. Specifically, we are influenced by the actions of our parents. If you grew up sitting down to dinner every night with your family, you may be likely to do the same with your own. Similarly, if your parents made it a point to drink milk with every meal, you could be more inclined to make nature's most nearly perfect food part of your daily routine. Unfortunately, acts of habit can't always overcome what's trending. Today what's on trend is a challenge for America's dairy producers. Successive generations are drinking less milk than their parents and grandparents.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Economic Research Service, since the 1970s, milk consumption has declined. Drinking milk with meals has become less of a norm in today's society, when we have so many more beverage options than our parents did. Milk is no longer taking center stage. How can we, as an industry, help make milk more of a competitor at the dairy case?

There is no simple answer. Although the study found positive correlations between milk promotion and milk drinking, people are likely to make the same choices as the members of their generation. Sadly, each successive generation is drinking less milk. Something worth stressing to consumers are the benefits being lost from not drinking milk. Millions of American's are losing out on nine essential nutrients at every meal.

As an avid milk drinker, I encourage everyone to look for ways to get milk back into your day. It can be your grab-and-go breakfast, the perfect accompaniment with lunch and a nice, cold end to a dinner with family. Milk can even find its way into your post-workout, as you refuel with chocolate milk (

Milk is too important to Americans' daily diet to be left off the menu and forgotten. If Americans can forge a relationship with milk at a young age and sustain that, maybe the next trend will be an increase in health and wellness. The next generation deserves more than soft drinks and milk substitutes. As an industry, it will continue to be our challenge to work against the odds and get milk back to the top.
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The author is the 25th Hoard's Dairyman editorial intern. She will be a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly, Taylor is majoring in dairy science with an agricultural communications minor. Pires grew up on a 500-cow dairy in Merced County, Calif.