Monday, July 17, 2017

Milk Prices... Is this real?

Sometimes the math just doesnt add up, and that should always make us suspicious... The price of milk and dairy products is an example. Let me explain...

Milk in the grocery store can run form $2 to $4 per gallon.  Seem reasonable, right?  But... consider the price of yogurt  made from that milk. A tub of good quality yogurt made from that milk runs about $10 to $15 per quart, or $40 to $60 per gallon! a HUGE increase in price. But why? Yogurt is a simple process of adding a starter, letting the milk sit overnight, and packaging it for retail. That's it! Where producing that first gallon of milk is a long drawn out process of raising cows or goats, feeding, housing, milking, cooling, transporting the milk... not to mention health requirements for the cows and calfs and facilities for all of this. The workload, cost, and investment in producing milk is absolutely HUGE compared to the workload of changing that milk into yogurt.  Something is wrong with this math! How can yogurt sell for 10x the cost of milk it is made from, if the vast majority of production cost is to produce the milk itself?

One answer can be found in the gory details of "milk production". Producing milk is not "milking a bunch of cows"... no. Big dairies run according to thew "government process" that dictates the fat and solid content of the milk. To meet these requirements, the dairy processing plant must first dismantle the milk into raw components! Yes.. the fat is removed from the milk and sometimes the solids are also removed. Then the processing plant reassembles the milk to government standards. The resulting "whole milk" is nothing of the sort! Even "whole milk" is a creation in the plant by recombining parts of the original product in desired rations. None of this is "natural" by any definition.

Example of a milk processing disassembly - reassembly line

Interestingly, the amount of fat required by law for "whole milk" is below the actual fat content of "milk". So ... if they dont add all the fat back, where does the extra fat go? What about extra solids ?  I think that therein is part of the answer to the cost being so off. The "extras" are sold off as other products that cost way more than the original milk! In other words.... the milk is the "waste product" left over from extracting the valuable stuff that produces the profit.

Strong words.. but think about what is happening.. the milk is "torn apart" into raw components, some extracted and sold as other products, some reassembled and sold "at cost". The milk, is the leftovers!

At Little Sprouts, we have reversed this. We manage goats under a "hard share" arrangement where our farm members own the goats, we mange and milk them and provide the milk produced in raw form, just as nature intended. We do not break apart the beautiful liquid gold to recombining it according to some government established ratios. We let nature dictate the components and rations and nutritional qualities of the milk.   Then, we offer a service of converting the owner's milk into yogurt or kefir for them. The cost for managing the herd is by far the largest portion of this process, and the cost to the members reflect this. The milk "seems" much more expensive by comparison, perhaps prohibitively so. But then.. converting that milk into yogurt cost very little (becasue it is so easy by comparison) and the resulting price paid to acquire a quart of yogurt is BELOW the grocery store price!

yes.. consider this.. the milk costs 10x more than grocery store milk, but the yogurt and kefir ends up CHEAPER than grocery store yogurt or kefir.  We base our prices on actual costs to produce, and that's how the real math works out.

So  next time you are buying milk at the store.. check the yogurt prices.. convert it all to a per gallon price, and question how this can be. Raising animals and milking is much much much more involved than turning milk into yogurt. Something is wrong...

Milk is a golden product, a mainstay of a healthy diet, IF it is produced right and in it's raw form unchanged by man. Especially goat milk, which is much more nutritious and digestible as well as less problematic for humans. I encourage you to consider the milk sold in the stores, how it got there, what you paid for those "leftovers" and then find a local farm that raises "real milk".

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