Today, 37 percent fewer Americans drink cow’s milk than in 1970, and dairy milk sales dropped 20 percent — from $15 billion to $12 billion — between 2011 and 2017. On the other hand, plant-based milks have soared in popularity with sales at $2.11 billion in 2017 from $900 million in 2012.
Led by a Cornell alumnus, Dean Foods, America’s largest milk producer, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 12, following years of declining sales and steep competition from both industry competitors and rival food groups.
Cornell signed a research partnership agreement on Sept. 23 with Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group — the largest dairy producer in China — to find ways to improve dairy production, according to a University press release. The agreement emerged after the University and the Yili group signed a memorandum of understanding in April for research collaboration on increasing dairy product innovation. These public-private partnerships are necessary in order to find ways to feed the growing world population, according to Prof. Martin Wiedmann, food science. “[This partnership is] needed to increase research to create a thriving global agricultural economy and provide high-quality food products for a world that is predicted to soon reach nine billion people,” he said in the release.