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Milk consumption is down 20% among younger generations: 'I feel like this is another punch line about us'

Aidan Pollard   

Milk consumption is down 20% among younger generations: 'I feel like this is another punch line about us'
  • Gen Z milk consumption is down 20% compared to other generations.
  • To combat the drop, the dairy industry is scrambling with campaigns and other efforts to increase milk's popularity.

Gen Z hasn't got milk.

The dairy industry is scrambling to increase the popularity of milk among Gen Z, as sales of dairy milk continue to drop while young people favor alternatives like oat and almond milk, according to a report from the New York Times.

Dairy milk consumption is down 20% among members of Generation Z — who range from ages 11 to 26, according to the Pew Research Center, — compared to the national average, the Times reported.

The drop in sales led the dairy industry to try new advertising tactics — like branding it as a health and sports drink.

Yvonne Zapata is among several people pictured in a campaign called "Gonna Need Milk." The 24-year-old frequent marathon runner lives in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times.

Her work with the campaign frames milk as a necessary component of a runner's diet. Gonna Need Milk also is sponsoring women at three major marathons in the US this year.

Through the campaign, Zapata has become a poster child for the dairy industry, appearing in Times Square videos and ads.

Zapata told the Times her goal is to encourage women of all cultures, shapes, and sizes to embrace running — but she doesn't actually include milk in her regular diet.

"Dairy milk is good," Zapata told the Times. "but I feel like realistically it's unhealthy."

She said she began avoiding dairy milk after she learned of its negative impacts on her sports-induced asthma, and after her sister became a vegan.

Still, using figureheads like Zapata, the dairy industry wants milk to be in the good graces of millennials and Gen Z.

"We have to reclaim milk's mojo," Yin Woon Rani, chief executive of the Milk Processor Education Program, told the New York Times.

"We sometimes refer to milk as the O.G. sports drink, powering athletes for 10,000 years," Rani added.

But for many young people in the US, pushing milk is just another example of older generations blaming young people for changes in staple US industries.

"I feel like this is another punch line about us: Did millennials kill milk?" Rebecca Kelley, a Seattle-based content strategy consultant, told the Times.


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