Got milk? Not so much these days

Sales of chocolate milk, yogurt, and cream up, but milk consumption way down

While fluid milk sales are decreasing in Canada, consumption of cream, flavoured milk, cheese and yogurt is on the rise.

“According to Statistics Canada, per capita consumption of fluid milk decreased 21.5 per cent from 1996 to 2015,” said provincial consumer market analyst Jeewani Fernando. “However, flavoured milk and cream consumption has increased significantly during the same period.”

Data for Alberta, however, tells a different story.

“While liquid milk consumption fell by about the same percentage (22 per cent), there is no significant growth in chocolate and other flavoured milk. Unlike the Canadian average, cream consumption dropped 5.6 per cent during the 10-year period.”

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The popularity of specialty coffee shops in Canada is one of the key forces behind the growing per capita consumption of cream. Decline in demand for dairy milk could be attributed to three primary factors:

  • Increasing demand for ‘solid’ options like cheese and yogurt.
  • Changing demographics and consumer perceptions.
  • Competition from a wide array of dairy alternatives now available in the market.

Consumer demand for milk alternatives is also increasing significantly, especially for almond milk, said Fernando.

“Alberta retail grocery sales data shows that the non-dairy milk alternative category had a whopping 225 per cent growth in sales from 2011 to 2014.

“Demographic changes, lactose intolerance, allergies, veganism, the paleo diet, general health and well-being and changing consumer perceptions are identified as the reasons behind the declining consumption of dairy milk,” he said.

However, even though sales in the overall category are declining, milk is still the largest dairy segment in Canada.

“When it comes to growth in the Canadian milk market — size matters. For example, sales of single-serve 250-millilitre milk containers grew 22 per cent over the last year, while sales of bottles of one litre or more declined,” said Fernando.

“Bottom line is that while white milk is struggling, other milk categories such as chocolate milk and flavoured milk (especially banana) are holding their shares. Their sales dollars have increased by one per cent and four per cent respectively in 2015.”

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