Milk consumption in the United States has been declining in recent years, taking a large toll on the dairy industry. The amount of liquid milk consumed per capita in the U.S. has declined by 40% by 1975. This has caused dairy farms to shut down, with about 2,730 closings in 18 months between 2018 and 2020. Dairy companies, such as Borden, have filed bankruptcy due to the decrease in demand. The decrease in consumption has been attributed to people using soy, almond, coconut, and oat milk alternatives. Additionally, many people are swapping out cereal and milk with other breakfast options such as protein bars and other on-the-go breakfasts.
Milk Consumption Around the World
A study by the International Milk Genomics Consortium found that, around the world, younger adults drink less milk than older adults is every one of the 21 geographic subdivisions of the world. This suggests that older adults may be responding to the advice given to them about combating osteoporosis or that there is a shift in habits between generations. The report also shows that the global average calcium consumption is far below the level recommended for adults by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH recommends 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium every day while the global average daily consumption was 629 mg.
Additionally, the report found a strong correlation between milk consumption and national per capita income. The wealthier countries had much more milk in their diets than low-income countries, drinking about 5.8 ounces of milk on average per day vs. drinking 2.4 ounces on average. Another factor to consider in milk consumption is the prevalence of lactose intolerance in each country. In some countries, lactose intolerance can be as high as 100% among the population, such as in Yemen and South Korea. Lactose intolerance prevalence greatly affects the amount of milk consumed by a population, as well as dairy in general.
Milk Consumption by Country
The numbers below are in kilograms per capita per year. The majority of the world’s largest milk consumers are located in Europe. The dairy sector is the second-largest agricultural sector in the EU and the prevalence of lactose intolerance is low in many European countries, specifically in Northern and Central Europe. The ten largest milk consumers in the world are:
- Finland - 430.76 kg/capita
- Montenegro - 349.21 kg/capita
- Netherlands - 341.47 kg/capita
- Sweden - 341.23 kg/capita
- Switzerland - 318.69 kg/capita
- Albania - 303.72 kg/capita
- Lithuania - 295.46 kg/capita
- Ireland - 291.86 kg/capita
- Kazakhstan - 288.12 kg/capita
- Estonia - 284.65 kg/capita
The countries that consume the least amount of milk are: