Approximately 116 million tonnes (128 million tons) of milk are wasted annually, according to new research conducted on behalf of The Guardian by Edinburgh University.
While consumers and retailers are responsible for 66 million tons of wasted milk, 55 million tons are discarded during production and distribution—pointing to the fact that the dairy industry is not only cruel to cows but also highly inefficient.
“We need to adapt supply and demand in order to avoid damaging overproduction, which always results in lower milk prices and a heavy financial burden for dairy farmers around the world,” Silvia Däberitz, managing director of the European Milk Board, said. Despite a steady decline in milk consumption since the 1970s coupled with a booming increase in plant-based milk consumption, the dairy industry in the United States continues to produce more milk than it can sell. In the first five months of 2017, farmers in the Midwest and Northeast alone purged 78 million gallons of milk—an increase of 86 percent from the surplus milk purge of 2016. Savvy farmers are exiting the dairy business, including Elmhurst which operated as a dairy company in New York for 90 years before transitioning its business to produce profitable plant-based milk products.