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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Why Australians are buying full-cream milk and veering away from low-fat alternatives

Australians are ditching skim milk and other low-fat dairy options and in favour of regular, full-cream milk as consumer appetites shift towards wholefood, ‘clean-eating’ diets.

Ian Halliday, Dairy Australia’s managing director, has revealed full-fat milk sales surged by almost 10 per cent over the past year alone, while consumption of low-fat and other modified milk varieties fell by about 6 per cent.

No-fat milk sales have dropped by almost 20 per cent since 2014/15.

“We are seeing, on a global basis, a move back towards full-fat dairy products,” Mr Halliday told a Senate Estimates hearing, pointing to recent research showing the health benefits of dairy.

Dietitian Lauren McGuckin, a spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, said there were several health factors that could explain this shift in consumer behaviour.

“Wholefood diets are becoming more popular and people are steering clear of more processed foods, whereas full-fat products are not as processed,” she said.

“This is true because some nutritional benefits – like calcium and vitamins – are lost in the process of reducing the fat content, but quite often it’s added back in.

“The high-fat, low-carb diet trend could also quite possibly be having an impact.”

Ms McGuckin said there was also a common myth that lower-fat milks contain added sugar.

“People think that in order to replicate the flavour of regular milk, the fat content is replaced with sugar to make it taste better, and this is just not the case,” she said.

“When it comes to plain milk, none of these have added sugar – regardless of whether you’re talking about full-fat, low-fat or skim milk.”

But it’s no wonder consumers are confused, with all the mixed messages they have been presented with over the years as new research emerges.

Dr Suzie Ferrie, a dietitian at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, said the increase in full-cream milk sales is not limited to Australia, but part of a global shift.

“There is increasing suspicion of how our food is manipulated by producers,” she said.

“Most organic dairy producers don’t make reduced-fat products, so people who are choosing ‘organic’ or ‘clean eating’ or ‘environmental eating’ or ‘sustainable eating’ are mainly having full-cream milk.

“The big Paleo eating fad was also quite influential in putting the message out that fat is good, and animal fat is good.”

John Droppert, an industry analyst at Dairy Australia, described the change in consumer behaviour as a “significant shift”.

“And this is bigger than milk and it’s bigger than the dairy industry,” he said.

“People are after a more natural product.

“There has been a similar effect on the butter industry. Consumers are turning away from margarine alternatives in favour of butter.”

Mr Droppert said the change in consumer preference was likely to endure.

“This is a pretty sustained shift. It’s not a short-term change in behaviour,” he said.

“I think we’ll see the volume of consumers who have changed back to regular milk will largely stay with it.”

Health advice

Ms McGuckin advised that anyone concerned about their weight or at risk of heart disease should avoid full-fat milk.

“But a splash of milk on your cereal or in your coffee is nothing to worry about,” she said.

“If you’re drinking glasses of it a day, then it might be best to switch back to a lower-fat option.”


Pom Pom said...

Interesting. We just recently switched to skim again. I hope people are drinking milk at family meals instead of soda or Kool-aid.

Linda said...

In the last six months, three specialists have advised me to only drink whole milk. And, they knew I drink a gallon each week--allergist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist. Of course, before that I could only drink 2% and still feel like I was drinking milk and not water.

My children, even when tiny were never given milk with our dinner each evening. If they had milk, they filled up on milk instead of eating their dinner. They had milk with breakfast, lunch, two snacks and before bed, so they had plenty of milk. At dinner they drank unsweetened tea.
Practical Parsimony

Lee said...

I use full-fat/cream milk...always have and I always will.

DUTA said...

Things are individual. I listen to my body mainly as experts might have all sorts of interests. What's good for me is: low carb, low fat, low calorie, and sufficient protein.

Valerie-Jael said...

Good to know! Hugs, Valerie

Sami said...

I've always used full cream milk, although now that I'm lactose intolerant I drink almond milk instead but buy full cream for my husband. As for butter I love it and was never a fan of margarine!

Margaret-whiteangel said...

Always use full cream milk and cream, never bought skim milk - we used to give the skim milk to the pigs when I was first married and lived on the farm for 8 years :)

Carol Blackburn said...

I have never drank anything except whole milk as all others pale by comparison. Of course, I haven't had a glass of milk in probably over a year now anyway. But, if I did................

William Kendall said...

I can't recall ever drinking skim milk.

Jenn Jilks said...

That's interesting!

Margie from Toronto said...

I am also moving back to full fat (what we call Whole Milk) and it does take some getting used to. I often have trouble finding yogurt that isn't 1% or "Lite" - drives me crazy. Now I do have to watch calories so don't drink vast quantities but do use it in my tea etc.

Conniecrafter said...

I would go to that but I don't drink enough and hubby likes the taste of the lower fat

Magic Love Crow said...

Very interesting! Thank you!