From cashew to banana “milk,” it seems like nondairy milk alternatives have been popping up in every imaginable form in recent years. And conventional milk has suffered from the competition.

According to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, retail sales of milk fell 0.4% (to $15,180.7 million) during the 52-week period ending Dec. 1, 2019. Unit sales dropped 2.4%, to 5,458.7 million.


Whole results

In 2018, sales across all milk subcategories were tumbling. A year later, the picture is a bit more positive. While overall sales are down (albeit to a lesser degree), refrigerated whole milk has yet again found its stride. The subcategory was the only one to experience positive growth: up 2.7% in dollar sales (to $4,898.2 million) and 0.5% in unit sales (to 1,703.8 million).

In fact, four of the top 10 brands posted double-digit gains. The winner was Cream O Land (Cream-O-Land Dairy), which posted an impressive 122.4% dollar sales increase and a 117.5% jump in unit sales. Fairlife (Fairlife LLC) also flourished. The ultrafiltered milk brand improved 32.1% and 31.6% in dollar and unit sales, respectively. Another bright spot here was Hood Lactaid (HP Hood Inc.), which saw an 11.6% increase in dollar sales and a 9.5% rise in unit sales.

But two of the top whole-milk brands saw declines, including Dean Foods’ DairyPure. The brand’s dollar sales fell 1.6%, and unit sales declined 4.6%. Prairie Farms (Prairie Farms Dairy) also lot a bit of ground: 0.2% in dollar sales and 1.2% in unit sales.


Skim milk’s continued woes

The refrigerated skim/low-fat milk subcategory, however, continued to have cause for concern. Retail dollar sales here fell 3.9% to $6,900.7 million, while unit sales tumbled 5.7% to 2,514.7 million.

A few of the top 10 brands bucked the downward trend. Fairlife yet again was a category leader, with 25.4% growth in dollar sales and a 25.7% jump in unit sales. Kemp Select (Kemps LLC) posted 5.4% and 4.7% dollar and unit sales gains, respectively. And Hood Lactaid showed growth here, too: Dollar sales rose 3.6%, and unit sales grew 1.2%.

The rest of top 10 brands’ sales fell, with DairyPure losing the most ground. It saw a 10.6% decrease in dollar sales and a 12.8% loss in unit sales. Organic Valley (by the company of the same name) also struggled, with a 7.9% and a 6.1% decline in dollar and unit sales, respectively. Another loser was Hood (HP Hood Inc.), which had a 5.9% fall in dollar sales and a 4.9% drop in unit sales.


Slight decline for flavored milk

Refrigerated flavored milk/eggnog/buttermilk also lost steam. The subcategory saw dollar sales drop 0.4% to $1,516.0 million; unit sales decreased 2.9% to 664.1 million.

Fairlife also was a bright spot here: The brand’s dollar sales grew 17.0%, and unit sales rose 16.2%. Other successes were Borden (Borden Dairy Co.) and Hood (HP Hood Inc.), which each saw a 6.8% increase in dollar sales. Borden’s unit sales increased 6.9%, while Hood’s climbed 3.5%.

Dean Foods’ brands struggled in this subcategory, too. TruMoo saw 13.6% and 15.7% decreases in dollar and unit sales, respectively, and Dean’s Country Fresh lost 11.7% in dollar sales and 14.5% in unit sales.

Close behind was the Darigold brand, from the company with the same name. Its dollar sales plummeted 8.5%, and its unit sales declined 10.3%.