Berlin (dpa) – School milk or the announced extra milk ration: Cow’s milk has enjoyed a good reputation in this country for decades. During the economic miracle period, the appreciation was reflected in the advertising slogan “Milk Makes Weary Men Cheer” and in the 1980s in the “Milk Does It” slogan, which hardly anyone questioned.
Milk was considered especially healthy, good for the bones, for example, because of its high calcium content. Today, on the other hand, one hears more often that people cannot tolerate it or that they fundamentally doubt that beef drink is good for people. Keywords: lactose intolerance, animal welfare. Skepticism about cow’s milk is also spreading in the statistics, as a look at the data for Milk Day (June 1) shows.
Per capita consumption of cow’s milk has been falling for years
According to the Federal Information Center for Agriculture (BZL), the per capita consumption of so-called drinking milk in Germany fell last year to an average of just 47.8 kilograms (minus 2.2 kilograms). This is the lowest milk consumption since the start of statistics for all of Germany in 1991. In 1995, the per capita consumption of drinking milk (which includes whole, skimmed, partially skimmed and premium milk) was just below the 62 kilograms. Ten years ago he weighed only 52 kilograms.
Reason for the decrease in cow’s milk consumption
The increased consumption of alternative plant-based products is mentioned as a possible reason for the downward trend. In other words: from oat, soy, almond, cashew, pea, coconut or pistachio drinks. In 2021 alone, Germany imported 296 million liters of milk substitute drinks, 42 percent more than the previous year, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Tuesday.
“Compared to 2017, imports have more than tripled.” The majority of imported vegetable drinks (35.4 percent) come from Belgium. Important suppliers are also Italy, Austria and France. By the way, milk substitutes may not be marketed in the EU under the designation “Milk”, so “Drink” is usually written on the packaging, but they all actually say “Milk” anyway.
Plant-based milk alternatives are no longer a niche product
Soy milk, in particular, has long been considered a vegan craze by many people. But products like oat milk and almond milk are no longer niche items for hardcore vegans or people with allergies or intolerances.
The criticism of milk comes from a certain medium.
“Looking at human history over the last seven to ten thousand years, milk criticism is a very new phenomenon,” says cultural scientist Gunther Hirschfelder. Skepticism about milk, which has been synonymous with wealth, good life and health for thousands of years, has been on the rise for a good 30 years and today mainly among the younger generation and in certain settings that often live far away. of the country, explains the professor. von der University of Regensburg, who studied history as well as agricultural sciences.
Milk is a socially charged food
“After the end of the Cold War, the guiding narrative shifted from the left/right schema to nutrition,” says Hirschfelder. “Eating and drinking have acquired a representative function, with the approximate scheme “Muesli saves the world” and “Steak represents self-optimization”. Milk acquires a special position and is extremely charged. “White, it looks innocent, but in the eyes of many people is guilty. Some see dairy farms as pure institutions of animal torture.”
But then you can get out of this cycle of blame very easily. “Plant-based milk alternatives don’t hurt, they can be used almost exactly like milk, they’re modern and cool. The motto then is usually ‘I make the world and myself better.’
Milk was an important step in the history of civilization.
Historically, agriculture, livestock and milk production were part of sedentarization and are an important development in the history of civilization, emphasizes Hirschfelder. “Our language is full of positive images about milk, just think of the metaphor of ‘the land where milk and honey flow’. Until the 19th century, most people in our part of the world had a lot of contact with the Cattle and farm animals, saw milking, were skilled from an early age.
Current skepticism about milk is less common in other parts of the world, such as China or Arab countries, says the professor. From a historian’s point of view, it is a fashion and not yet a mass phenomenon from a global perspective. And from an ecological and economic standpoint, skepticism about highly processed industrial foods like oatmeal and almond milk is appropriate. “Isn’t the local milk with a piece of bread and butter even better than the commercial soy products, for example?”
the cheese thing
Hirschfelder made a special point about an important dairy product. “Cheese is harder to substitute than milk. Its fat, protein, flavor and uniqueness can hardly be duplicated with diced tofu on top of a salad or even pizza and casseroles.”
Statistics also show that even if there are imitations (keyword: analogous cheese), real cheese has become more popular in recent years. In the 1980s, per capita consumption was around 14 kilograms, in the year 2000 it was around 21 kilograms. Last year, cheese consumption remained constant at more than 25 kilograms.
Dairy Industry Association
German Association of Milk Producers
Oatley oatmeal drink
Alpro vegetable drinks
alnatura oatmeal drink