Dairy Industry Worried That The Answer To “Got Milk?” These Days Is: “Nope.”

Back in milk’s heyday, the cool thing to do in a commercial was proudly wear a white mustache and smirk, “Got Milk?” The idea being, if you didn’t, you weren’t being healthy, as milk was the reigning drink in the health food arena. All you had to do was drink a glass a day and you could claim that yes, you had milk. But with all the energy drinks and enhanced waters flooding the market these days, dairy farmers are worried they’re losing their audience.

This isn’t a sudden shift from milk to other drinks, reports the Wall Street Journal, but the decline in milk consumption has recently accelerated, stressing out all those involved in the dairy industry.

One big name in the field says the decrease in milk drinking is a “crisis.” Where before it was almost taken for granted that at least kids were drinking milk at home, or the health-conscious adults among us were making sure we had our daily intake of dairy, that’s just not happening as much anymore.

“We cannot simply assume that we will always have a market,”  Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. tells the WSJ.

Things have been slowly dripping downhill, with milk consumption down about 30% since 1975 even as other dairy products have become increasing popular, according to stats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Why? Bottled waters and other diet drinks come with no calories and often have vitamins added, and consumers might think milk is too high in calories to be a healthy choice.

There aren’t as many kids in the U.S. population, and since they’re usually the key consumers of the stuff, that’s a cause for concern in the dairy industry. Or their parents are choosing things like soy and almond milk with the health benefits of those drinks coming into play when it comes time to make a decision in the beverage aisle. Milk’s rising price doesn’t help things, either.

The milk industry is fighting back with campaigns to push protein-enhanced milk on fitness buffs and scoffing at other milk as “imitation milk” if doesn’t come from a cow.

It isn’t just those who send the milk to stores that are worried — retailers have long sold milk at the back of the store to lure shoppers through all the other aisles in a supermarket before they get to their target.

Says Kroger’s director of dairy and frozen products, Alan Faust: “Milk is an extremely important category for us.”

As such, Kroger is going to start a new milk brand called CARBMaster using its own dairies in order to lure the health-conscious back into those aisles.

For now, the industry is falling back on its tried-and-true marketing campaign, “Got Milk?” with a new gamut of marketing tactics. GotMilk.com has interactive games now that poke fun at soy, almond, rice and other nondairy milk products.

Me? I drink a glass of milk every day, just because it goes better with a peanut butter and English muffin combo than vitaminwater does.  So yes, I’ve still got milk. Score one for the dairy industry.

America’s Milk Business in a ‘Crisis’ [Wall Street Journal]