Having 5 children means buying large quantities of some grocery items like milk. Since our family drinks over 7 gallons a week I have made an effort to buy hormone-free to reduce the risk of early puberty development. Down in Virginia that meant I had to get our milk delivered at almost double the wholesale cost, but up in Maine all the milk in the grocery case is without hormones. Oakhurst dairies, which supplies all of Maine was the first large dairy to go hormone-free and got a lot of legal grief for putting that claim on their packaging. Now Hannaford and Hood brands have found that the demand justifies the lower milk output and have done the same.
While our milk costs have decreased since we now buy it at the grocery, the cost per gallon have been creeping upwards all year.
*dairy farmers only receive approx. $0.96 a gallon for milk, the majority of the cost per gallon is paid to the processor and the grocer.
Growing appetites for dairy in Asia and limited worldwide supply are among a number of factors driving prices of the dairy drink to record highs.
In China and elsewhere in Asia, chains such as McDonald's and Starbucks are introducing unfamiliar taste buds to cheeseburgers and lattes, increasing the region's demand for dairy.
Paying more for milk is causing an uproar in Germany, where families consider providing children with an affordable glass of milk a fundamental right. It is also a concern for consumers in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.
Milk prices hit a record last month in the United States, where consumers paid an average $3.80 a gallon, compared to $3.29 in January, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It forecasts prices will remain high throughout the year.
Prices are likely to remain high worldwide until dairy farmers add more cows or shift production to powders, which are more easily traded than the liquid stuff.
International dairy prices increased 46 percent between November 2006 and April 2007, with milk powder prices increasing even faster, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Companies like candy giant Hershey Co. that use dairy for their products are feeling the pinch. But in many parts of the globe, dairy farmers are cheering.
One of the farming books I have bought and studied this summer has been about raising dairy cows. Goats might be an option as well, I will watch a friend's experiment in goat dairying next spring to see if that might be a better option for us. The thought of raising our own animals and drinking their milk has great appeal, we know exactly how the animals have been treated and that the milk is fresh and almost free.