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U.S. milk sales on the rise, giving local farmers hope for the future of the industry

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- You may have seen more ads for milk and dairy recently. A new report says dairy, and specifically milk sales, are up over 8 percent across the country.

U.S. milk sales have been in freefall for decades as choices grew and more consumers turned to soda. But during the coronavirus pandemic, experts say that's no longer the case.

"There are so many steps between the consumer purchasing that product and the farmer actually producing that product," said Heather Schlesser, Dairy Agent for UW-Extension Marathon County

While this pandemic is positively impacting the dairy industry right now, it has also posed challenges for farmers across the country.

"I mean they went really low during covid and everyone was contracting prices trying to make money so they can stay afloat, and what we've seen is those prices have actually come up higher than what they were anticipating. Higher than those contractible prices," said Schlesser. "Consuming more product is actually ending up having an increase in that check price for those producers."

Kids who were no longer having meals at school were drinking milk at home. Adults no longer commuting to work had more time for a bowl of cereal. Consumers, also buying more milk to bake and cook from home.

According to data from Nielsen from January through July 18th, 2020, US milk retail sales were up 8.3 percent compared to this time last year.

Officials from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin say similar to US numbers, here in Wisconsin sales are up 10 percent compared to facing a 2 percent loss in 2019.

The largest gain happened in March when badger state sales jumped a 22 percent.

Officials say it's too soon to tell if sales will continue to climb, but they're hoping for the best.

Amanda Lojewski

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