BST-free Milk Processors Blew It

April 19, 2009 07:00 PM
 In a report released this morning, fluid milk processors who shifted completely to BST-free milk experienced "no discernible ‘sales bump' from the changeover, which should have occurred had there been a significant group of consumers who were reducing or eliminating milk consumption because of concerns about hormones.”
Elanco commissioned the independent report, "An Understandable Path to a Questionable Outcome,” to look at the experience of the fluid-milk industry's widespread shift to an "BST-free” milk supply. Issued on April 10, 2009, and authored by Tom Nagle Jr., Statler Nagle LLC, Washington, D.C., this was developed as an independent report that would withstand peer review, says Elanco. Elanco produces and markets Posilac.
Statler Nagle interviewed 10 senior executives at milk processing companies and reviewed and analyzed more than 15 consumer studies. The research shows that no more than 15%, and as few as 8% to 12%, of consumers are concerned enough about hormones in milk that they change purchasing and consumption behaviors. But one-third to one-half of these consumers already satisfy this preference by purchasing organic milk.
For processors, retailers and consumers, the downside of the full changeover to milk from non-BST supplemented cows is that the underlying cost of milk is increased, says Nagle.
Offering a third-tier of products, BST-free, gave consumers a choice—and lower priced conventional milk. That option is now essentially off the table, says Nagle.
Milk processing executives are expressing regret that they have set precedent, taking an FDA-approved, safe technology out of stores without any scientific evidence of negative health consequences.
"Gathering substantially more input before making such a massive change is the best way to prevent changes that will affect, but not necessarily benefit, the industry and its customers,” says Nagle. "The alternative is to accept higher costs while setting precedent for giving up sound, safe technologies without sound science to prove the need.”

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