Milk Advertising’s Impact on Milk Consumption

Milk Advertising ,Milk Consumption ,Milk Research
December 29, 2017

Milk consumption compared to milk advertising expenditures, 1978-2005

How effective is milk advertising? Since the National Dairy Board (NDB) was authorized under the Dairy Act of 1983 to promote milk and other dairy products in the marketplace, it and the National Fluid Milk Board (FMB) have spent over $1.1 billion dollars on advertising.

The NDB has mainly focused on generic, non-branded advertising for milk and cheese, funding campaigns including, Milk. It Does a Body Good (1985) and Got Milk? (1995), originally developed by the California Milk Processors Board in 1994. The FMB was authorized under the Fluid Milk Act of 1990 specifically for milk processors to fund fluid milk promotion and advertising but was not ready for implementation until 1995. FMB’s media campaigns include National Milk Mustache (1995), the MilkPEP Internet site (2003), Milk Your Diet. Lose Weight! (2004), and Body by Milk (2006). In 1999, the Got Milk? and Milk Mustache campaigns merged and have been since funded by the FMB.

The following graphs and chart illustrate U.S. milk consumption compared to milk advertising expenditures from 1978-2005.


The data for milk consumption from 1978-2004 were gathered from estimates made by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA’s Data Set on Food Availability. Regarding the data set, the ERS states, “the system comprises three data series, none of which measures actual consumption or the quantities ingested. The data are not based on direct observations of consumption. However, the ERS per capita food availability data are useful for economic analysis because they serve as indirect measures of trends in food use. In other words, the per capita food availability system provides an indication of whether Americans, on average, are consuming more or less of various foods over time.” (USDA website, accessed Sep. 13, 2007)

The data for generic fluid milk advertising expenditures for 1978-1996 were extracted from the USDA’s February 1999 report, “Analyses of Generic Dairy Advertising, 1984-97.” The data for 1997-2005 were computed by dividing the total annual amount spent by the National Fluid Milk Board (FMB) on media advertising, reported in the annual USDA Report to Congress on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, by the population of the U.S. reported by the USDA in its Food Availability Data Set.

Expenditures reflect months September-August for 1978-1996, July-June for 1997, and January-December for 1999-2000. Milk advertising expenditure shown for 1998 is lower because it represents the six month period prior to FMB’s change from fiscal year to calendar year reporting.

Milk advertising expenditures for 1978-1996 include both National Dairy Board (NDB) and FMB expenditures. From 1997-2005 expenditures represent only those of the FMB. Since the implementation of the FMB in 1995 and the approval of the 1996 FMB budget, the NDB shifted its advertising focus to cheese and other dairy products. The FMB funds the national milk television and print advertisements, including its largest campaign, Milk Mustache/got milk?. In the USDA reports to Congress, at least as of 1998, the NDB no longer reported on its advertising expenditures for milk specifically, but for all dairy products in general.

All data for total consumption, expenditures, and population were rounded up 3 significant digits above zero in order to stay consistent with the data gathered from the sources. Total consumption was calculated by multiplying the per capita consumption by population.

Regional and private milk advertising expenditures have not been included in this study.

Quality of advertisements have not been taken into account in the calculations. Please note that advertising expenditures do not reflect the quality of the advertisements.