Study Shows Fortified Milk Delivers Extra Calcium, Lean Muscle-building Protein at Little Cost

  • October 4, 2010
  • Josette Dunn

An economic analysis of the impact of requiring higher nonfat solids in fluid milk has shown consumers would benefit from the additional nutrients with little impact on the price of a gallon of milk in the grocery store. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri conducted the study at the request of the four Dairy Farmer Caucus co-chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.\

Milk deal

Under the plan, condensed fat-free milk, and all the calcium and protein it contains, would be added to milk to increase nutrition and improve taste. It’s simple math: as butterfat decreases from 3.25% in whole milk to 2%, 1%, and fat-free milk, fortifying with additional condensed fat-free milk helps maintain the real dairy creaminess consumers expect. In addition, scientists and nutritionists advise that milk proteins increase lean tissue and extra calcium helps build strong bones.

The FAPRI study showed only minimal potential impact on milk prices to consumers. In exchange for getting “more milk in their milk,” the price of a gallon of milk at the store was estimated to rise about 17 cents. That is about a penny per eight-ounce glass.

The estimated impact on farm milk prices was a 27-cent rise in the “all-milk price” in the first year. That declined over time to about a dime over the 10-year analysis projection period. More importantly, the study estimated that an additional 350 million pounds of nonfat milk would be used to fortify fluid milk marketed in the U.S. The federal government’s price support program has, in the past, often purchased surplus nonfat dry milk.

The four House Dairy Farmer Caucus co-chairs are Joe Courtney (CT), Devin Nunes (CA), Tim Walz (MN) and Peter Welch (VT). The American Farm Bureau Federation, National All-Jersey Inc., Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives and Western United Dairymen thank these Members of Congress for taking the initiative on an issue that will benefit both milk drinkers and dairy farmers.

“The farmer members of National All-Jersey Inc. recognize this as a marketing opportunity for their milk but don’t take asking for a public policy change lightly,” said NAJ President Dave Endres of Lodi, WI. “More than the obvious benefit for farmers is the public good that can come from higher nutrition standards for milk. And as every owner of a Jersey cow knows, higher components make milk taste better. That will encourage people to drink more milk.”

“Milk is hard to improve on, but higher nutrition standards for fluid milk marketed to consumers in this country is an issue our members are committed to,” commented Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation President. “The FAPRI study shows it is an inexpensive way to get more calcium into kids and health experts say the proteins in milk help build lean muscle. The American Farm Bureau Federation supports this policy that will help build stronger bones, offer another tool to help fight obesity and provide farmers with an additional market for their milk.”

“Research shows that adoption of higher nutrition standards for fluid milk could mean an additional 27-cents in dairy farmer milk checks during the first year. That is a real economic boost in what has been the toughest dairy farm economy in memory over the past two years. Higher calcium and protein is positive for consumers but many will also be pleased that dairy farmers in their state benefit from this plan as well,” added Leon Berthiume, General Manager of St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.

“Higher fluid milk nutrition standards have been in effect in California, the largest milk market in the country, for more than 30 years,” said Jamie Bledsoe, Western United Dairymen Board President. “Health professionals in the state have endorsed the policy and studies show California consumers pay the same price every day for higher nutrition milk as consumers in other states pay for the milk they buy. It’s truly a case where everybody wins.”

The complete study is available from the FAPRI website at www.fapri.missouri.edu/outreach/publications/2010/FAPRI_MU_Report_07_10.pdf.


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