Butterfat is Back in Style


By Fran Howard

News on the dairy fat demand side couldn’t get much better—it appears U.S. consumers are hungry for butter and whole milk. After years of negative news reports about the hazards of eating too much saturated fat, butter and whole milk are once again gaining favor with U.S. consumers.   

“Because dairy contains saturated fat, experts have long recommended choosing low-fat or nonfat versions. However, most studies show no link between heart disease risk and dairy products, regardless of fat levels,” states the September 2015 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.           

Last week McDonald’s announced that beginning October 6, it will serve some breakfast items all day in its 14,300 U.S. locations, and that its Egg McMuffins, bagels, and biscuits will be toasted in butter.   

Preliminary estimates indicate that McDonald’s and its suppliers could use between 22.5 and 27 million pounds of butter in the fast-food chain’s restaurants in the first year alone.           

“Cooking shows promote butter as a delicious, natural alternative to highly processed oils,” says Sarina Sharp, agricultural economist with the Daily Dairy Report. “Some medical journals are now touting the health benefits of milkfat, and some studies have even linked consumption of milkfat with lower rates of heart disease and obesity.”           

Butterfat is also being consumed in whole milk. In June, Americans bought 1.122 billion pounds of whole milk, up 74 million pounds or 7.1 percent from June 2015. The increase was the largest year-over-year monthly increase in sales of whole milk in more than a decade, notes Sharp.           

“The climb in whole milk sales was enough to increase sales of all varieties of beverage milk, which have been floundering for years,” Sharp says. June sales of all fluid milk rose 1.4 percent, or 53 million pounds, above year-ago levels. “June’s rise in fluid milk sales is the largest year-over-year increase since February 2013,” she adds.           

June’s good news for fluid milk is not a one-time event, either. “Sales of whole milk in the United States have grown on a year-over-year basis in each of the last seven months,” says Sharp. “Manufacturers have stepped up whole milk bottling, leaving less cream for other users.”

According to USDA, cream supplies have been tight and even unattainable at times this summer. Whole milk is standardized to 3.25% butterfat. The 74-million-pound increase in sales of whole milk combined with the 6-million-pound increase in sales of flavored whole milk resulted in the consumption of an additional 2.6 million pounds of butterfat relative to a year ago, according to Daily Dairy Report estimates.            

At the same time, though, sales of low-fat and skim milk products sank 46 million pounds in June, resulting in a decline of 938,000 pounds of butterfat demand.           

“In total, though, consumers drank 1.7 million pounds more butterfat in June than they did a year ago,” she says. “Whole milk sales represent a rare bright spot in the still anemic fluid milk market. If sales of whole milk continue to climb, cream could remain tight, and manufacturers of cream-based products could continue to pay up for milkfat.”


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Spell Check

Senior PA Dairy Farmer
Westfield, PA
9/15/2015 11:43 AM

  Very good post from Pro Ag's Mr. Tewksbury. Sad that it takes an investigative reporter like Ms. Teicholz to publicize in her fine book what many of us knew all along. "Whole" milk (and that should be way above 3.25%!!), butter, full-fat dairy products, and animal fats are good nutrition for all of us and that includes the school kids who need full-fat foods for healthy brain development. Where has the farmer-funded Dairy Check-off crowd been? Skimming hundreds of millions of dollars out of farmers' cash-flow every year since the ‘80’s to finance ad messages and frivolous gimmicks supporting no-fat, low-fat dairy products as "healthy" without even questioning the crap science behind those policies. Low fat-no fat is still going to be literally rammed down kids’ throats in the school feeding programs with the "nutritional guidelines" being used as standards by the government. Just look in the trashcans after lunch at your local public school to see the throwaways! And who in "dairy' is even examining the blatant use and promotion of the "moo-glues" MPC and casein by the dairy industry processors (many of them directly tied to farmer-owned co-ops) in dairy food products like so-called "cheese," yogurt, sour cream, you name it. These cheap-- imported and domestic--dairy derivative glues MPC and casein displace healthy, traditional milk ingredients in dairy manufacturing and frequently increase yield volumes skewing the truth about actual milk cow numbers and milk production statistics. As a consumer, I refuse to buy anything containing moo-glues like MPC and casein. Only genuine traditional dairy is promoted and consumed by this dairy farmer! It's no wonder we have constant financial collapse on our US dairy farms with the federal policies promoted by all segments of the dairy "INDUSTRY," including the co-ops that exploit farmers and consumers alike. Farmers need milk pricing reform and consumers need pure, traditional, full-fat, local milk and dairy products.

Arden Tewksbury
Meshoppen , PA
9/14/2015 10:07 AM

  I want to commend Fran Howard for a fine report concerning the increase in butter and whole milk sales. Nina Teicholz, a NYC author, wrote a very informative book entitled, "The Big Fat Surprise". The Progressive Agriculture Organization and the National Family Farm Coalition have been promoting Ms. Teicholz' work all across the US. A big problem is that no school in the US is allowed to serve whole milk in their schools. This must be reversed. Ms. Teicholz has 2 videos that can be viewed by clicking on Progressive Agriculture Organization's FACEBOOK page.


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