Every Sixth Gallon of Milk Wasted Globally
Every sixth gallon of milk is wasted and not consumed, according to an estimate done by Edinburgh University in Scotland for The Guardian newspaper.
Almost half of that loss comes before milk even reaches retail stores, the study suggests. That’s due to the fact that in developing countries, farmers and processors have difficulty storing and transporting milk from tiny farms to processing plants.
In the United States, losses might be even greater, at nearly a third of dairy foods, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Those losses come at the retail and consumer levels as milk is discarded because it is not consumed before “sell by” dates or goes off-flavor as it sits in the back of consumers’ refrigerators.
“To achieve a more efficient system, and reduce the environmental impacts from our food production, we need to consider ways to reduce all these sources of loss,” says Peter Alexander, a professor in the newly formed Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security.
One of the most important ways to reduce milk spoilage is to keep temperatures in refrigerators below 41°F. That alone could save nearly 13 million gallons of milk from going off-flavor in the United Kingdom alone.
It should be noted that some of the food “waste” included in Alexander’s calculations are milk products used in animal feeds. The European Union has bought up 380,000 metric tons of milk powder in the last four years to support European milk prices. The program was originally put in place to buy up excess dairy products created after the EU abandoned its dairy quota program.
The EU has been selling off limited amounts of powder each month to prevent a collapse in prices, and much of that powder has been used in animal feed.