But fluid mild drinking is half of what it used to be.
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Per capita consumption of dairy in 2021 grew by 12.4 lbs. per person over the previous year, continuing a near 50-year growth trend that started in 1975 when USDA began tracking annual consumption of milk, cheese, butter and everything else in the dairy case.

Fluid (drinking) milk consumption, on the other hand, continues a decades-long decline.

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released figures Sept. 30 that showed the average American consumed 667 pounds of dairy on a milkfat basis in 2021 versus 539 pounds in 1975 when data was first established.

Among the products showing strong growth are American-type cheese, up 0.5 pounds, butter up 0.2 pounds and yogurt adding 0.7 pounds. Yogurt consumption grew at its strongest rate in a decade and American-type cheese consumption was the second biggest increase over the past 20 years.

In the past decade, domestic per capita consumption of cheese is up 13%; per capita butter consumption is up 18%; per capita yogurt consumption is up 2% — all according to analysis by the International Dairy Foods Assn. (IDFA). Overall, ERS data show American dairy per capita consumption across products consistently increasing each year, with 2021 up 4% over the past five years, 9% over the past 15 years, and 19% over the past 30 years.

However, in a months-earlier report, USDA/ERS noted, “U.S. per capita fluid milk consumption has been trending downward for more than 70 years and fell at a faster rate during the 2010s than in each of the previous six decades.” In 1970, the average person drank 0.96 cups of milk per day; in 2019, that was down to 0.49 cups.

IDFA also noted U.S. dairy exports were at a record.

The quality rating of domestic dairy products has remained above 99 percent for six consecutive years, experts said at a webinar.

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