How The Dairy Industry Made Milk a Diet Staple

Got milk? But do you actually need it? Here's how the dairy industry pushed milk as a health product. 🐮🥛

Milk, a marketed product throughout the years

How did milk become a staple of the American diet agriculture consumer goods and pushed as a "healthy bone-builder" by the government and dairy industry? To boost milk production after the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (after effect - WPA) subsidized dairy advertising to create increased demand for milk. The National School Lunch Act passed into law. Three types of nutritious lunches with at least 1/2 pint of whole milk were served to American children.

Thus, through better feeding, tomorrow’s citizens may achieve sounder minds and bodies than ever before. The square paper carton replaced bottles to allow more milk to be carried, and to reduce the cost of milk for consumers. The Dairy Production Stabilization Act authorized a national producer program for dairy product promotion. This was meant to increase consumption and reduce milk surpluses.

The Fluid Milk Promotion Act was passed to promote the sale of milk and allow generic milk advertising. The iconic “Got Milk?” ad campaign encouraged the consumption of milk. The "milk mustache" ads began in 1995 with celebrities, athletes or fictional characters promoting milk.

The FDA approved the use of an Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST, rBGH, BGH) to boost dairy production. This sparked a series of protests around the country. The FDA issued labeling guidelines for milk, including a new statement on products not treated with rBST.

Milk alternatives, like almond milk, grow in popularity. The dairy industry attacked the alt-milk industry with ads comparable to the “Got Milk?” ads but with new messaging. A study found that non-dairy milk sales rose by 61% between 2012 and 2017. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a crackdown on calling non-dairy drinks “milk.” In December 2018 the 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruled that calling almond milk “milk” is not deceptive, upholding the earlier dismissal of a lawsuit. In 2019 The Dairy Farmers of America revealed its total 2018 milk sales had dropped by $1 billion compared to 2017.

Anyone still for milk?