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Fluid milk returns to pre-pandemic slide

Corey Geiger, Managing Editor

July 26, 2021

At the onset of the pandemic last year, fluid milk was flying off store shelves.

It turns out the uptick in sales was an aberration.

“As often occurs in times of uncertainty, there was significant panic buying during the initial months of COVID-19 shutdowns in the Northeast that began about mid-March of 2020,” wrote Shawn Boockoff, market administrator for the Northeast Federal Milk Marketing Order. “In addition, schools and other agencies took action to ensure that even though schools were physically closed, meals were still provided to students at various drop off locations,” he continued.

“These activities resulted in a slight increase in overall Class I sales for the March to May 2020 period compared to the same period in 2019,” Boockoff wrote in the June 2021 edition of The Market Administrator’s Bulletin. “Notable increases were recorded in whole (up 6.4%) and reduced-fat milk (up 8%) while all other products, such as flavored milk and drinks (lower fat flavored milk products) and buttermilk, experienced significant declines.”

Fluid milk sales in March to May 2021

The positive story for whole and reduced-fat milk sales quickly changed course one year later.

“Comparatively, for the same period in 2021, low-fat (down 1.4%) and fat-free milk (down 12%) continued to decline, but whole (down 10.8%) and reduced-fat (down 1.9%) milk also declined significantly, while flavored milk and drinks (up 28.9%), organic products (up 6%), and buttermilk (up 35.9%) have rebounded to more expected levels,” reported Boockoff.



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