How Has the Historical Price of Milk Changed Over Time?


Quick Answer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within 100 years, the price of milk has gone from 36 cents per gallon in 1913 to $3.53 in 2013. According to the BLS, as of October 2015, its price has gone down to $2.72 per gallon. Packaging was a factor that led to lower prices in the 1950s, when square paper cartons replaced the more expensive glass bottles.

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Full Answer

Along with the natural rise in the cost of living, weather conditions can also influence the price of milk. Droughts, for example, have reduced the amount of hay, causing a rise in milk prices by making it more expensive to feed dairy cows.

According to ProCon.org, the first evidence of cattle being milked for human consumption was in 4000 B.C. in Europe. By 1895, Louis Pasteur had invented a process known as pasteurization to kill germs naturally found in milk, thereby making it safer to consume. In 1913, the Typhoid epidemic was attributed to contaminated milk, leading to eventual mandatory milk pasteurization. In 1939, during the Great Depression, the price of milk fell so low that the farmers were not able to sell it for the price it cost to produce it.

The Got Milk? advertisements started in 1993 and, as of 2015, is still being used as the milk industry’s most successful and important advertising campaign.

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