Organic Milk Shortage Spreading West, Wreaking Havoc In Picky Homes Everywhere

East Coasters may have already seen their favorite organic milk brands disappearing from shelves, and now the shortage seems to be spreading to the West, as some shoppers in Colorado could see a price hike of around $1. But not everyone is ready to panic, including retailers that are closely monitoring the situation.

Rising costs of organic feed are to blame, as the farmers aren’t seeing a corresponding rise in price for their goods, says Boulder’s Daily Camera, but not all retailers are prepared to freak out.

“Right now, we have an adequate supply,” said Kelli McGannon, director of public affairs for King Soopers. “We are not anticipating a shortage at this time.”

“I think our consumer is buying the milk that is available,” said Laura Perkins, director of purchasing for Natural Grocers, which only sells organic milk products. “I’m hoping that we can keep prices consistent right now and get more producers so that they help meet supply and demand.”

Horizon Organic is seeing the most frequent shortages thus far, with some retailers reporting empty shelves after stock sells out.

While other natural grocers in the area were happy to discuss their dairy dilemmas or lack thereof, “Whole Foods officials declined to comment on their milk situation.” Well then!

Organic milk has risen in popularity as consumers have started to care more what ingredients are in their food. Even if parents don’t drink the organic stuff themselves, they are likely to give it to their children. According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey, organic dairy now makes up 14.6% of the total organic food sales.

*Thanks to Scott for pointing out this impending “first-world crisis.”

Mixed concerns as organic milk shortage felt in Boulder [Daily Camera]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Came here for the “Humans shouldn’t drink milk” show.
    Made yummy milkshakes from non-organic horse milk.

  2. Coffee says:

    “Picky Homes”, eh? Interesting choice of words, equating wanting to eat organic food to being picky. I don’t personally eat organic, but I might be a little irritated by the headline if I did ;)

    • Cat says:

      Choosey Mothers Choose JIF!

    • Velifer says:

      Lactose intolerance, or just whiny?

    • SkyRattlers says:

      Well said. It’s an extremely bizarre comment coming from a consumer protection based website. Or maybe Consumerist is only here to save us from high prices and bad service and not from companies who are willing to contaminate our food sources in the name of profit.

      My my wife and I recently made the switch to organic milk because she’s pregnant. Making sure my child is exposed to as few chemicals and pesticides as possible isn’t being picky it’s just being responsible.

      • little stripes says:

        It is because it’s Monday that y’all have lost your sense of humor? Because seriously. If you’re offended over such a silly, clearly sarcastic headline, man, oh man, I’m sure you’re a BLAST at parties.

        • SkyRattlers says:

          Actually I am at blast at parties. You should have seen my rocking out to Dance Central on my buddies Kinect on Saturday night. :rock on:

          But seriously this isn’t a comedy blog. Consumerist isn’t here to entertain us. They exist to educate their readers and police the corporate world. Too often recently they lose focus and start thinking they can be like Digg or Reddit as well.

          • little stripes says:

            You are new here, aren’t you?

            Sense of humor: Get one.

          • Cat says:

            Consumerist isn’t here to entertain us. They exist to educate their readers and police the corporate world.

            You’re new here, right?

          • rob3912811 thinks this site is full of retards and assclowns with cats for friends. says:

            Consumerist hasn’t attempted to “exist to educate their readers and police the corporate world” since CU purchased it. Ironically, it was a far less of a laughable site when it was owned by a celebrity gossip conglomerate.

      • JeremieNX says:

        News Flash, SkyRattlers. There is no solid proof that regular milk is any “worse” for you than over-priced “organic” milk. People have been drinking milk for years before “organic” become “trendy”. Get over yourself.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I’d rather not take the chance.

        • human_shield says:

          Actually milk production has changed dramatically only in the last few decades. Ask anyone over 50 and they will tell you that milk is very different.

        • Charmander says:

          I don’t really care about “solid proof” – I just know that given the choice, I’d rather drink milk that doesn’t have hormones and pesticides in it.

          • azgirl says:

            I am with the organic crowd.. I don’t need the extra hormones and antibiotics.. it is not just a fad. There is much research on hormones and antibiotics being bad for people…. its not just the chemicals they put in the feed etc.

            Why you got to hate? If we are privleged and want to waste our money on something that means nothing to you, why do you care? Jealous?

            And as far as being extra vigilant while pregnant, I am doubly on that band wagon..pregnant, eating organic, and having the healthiest pregnancy of anyone I know.. including people 10-15 years younger than me. I do not think this is a coincidence.

            Milk IS different than it used to be. Giant agribusiness has seen to this. I am not actually much of a milk drinker pre-preg, but the doc says I need some extra calcium- I listen. And milk is the thing that goes down and stays down… nothing against soy or almond.. its just what myhormones will stand;)

    • kobresia says:

      Paying a premium for organic foodstuffs is something I would consider to be a discriminating taste, since it does involve a product that’s in some way considered superior to the common, basic options available.

      Dietary snobbery is also kind of “one of those things” around Boulder. I swear, there are more of the organic specialty food markets that pander to special diets than regular supermarkets.

      • little stripes says:

        Yeah, and it’s really only something the privileged can be picky about, at least in most areas.

        • Charmander says:

          No, not true. I’m not one of the privileged but for milk and meat, I only buy organic. (And don’t eat much meat anyways,) For everything else, I mostly buy the regular stuff. I always look for sales and it sort of evens out.

          • little stripes says:

            Uh, you are privileged if you can afford to do that. And you have the internet. At home, I bet.

            I’m privileged, too. But at least I’m self-aware.

            • Charmander says:

              Well, then we’re all privileged here at the Consumerist.

              So, what exactly, is the point of your original comment?

    • Jawaka says:

      Far too sensitive.

  3. comedian says:

    Sounds like a headline you stole from The Onion.

  4. foodfeed says:

    What happens to organic cows who can’t eat organic, do they feed them less or switch them to regular milk makers?

    • Velifer says:

      If the farm has a non-organic herd, they go there, or get auctioned off.

      Dairy cows put most of their fat into making milk, not marbled steaks, so they usually end up ground up and mixed with beef tallow in fast food burgers.

  5. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I buy organic milk simply because it lasts longer, and I typically can’t make it through a half gallon in the week or so that regular milk lasts. I don’t really care about all the hormones in regular milk; I drank it my entire childhood and I’m fine. .:twitch:.

    • TommyTutone says:

      Exactly. I can buy two gallons of it at Costco and know it will last well over a month in our small household. It’s (supposedly) better for us, and convenient as well!

    • Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

      I have always wondered why the organic milk always has an expiration date that is so far out. If anything, I thought the antibiotic laced stuff would have a longer shelf life.

      Why is that?

      • NickRayko says:

        Ultra-pasteurized (higher temp than standard pasteurization), probably.

      • little stripes says:

        They use different pasteurization processes. Organic uses Ultra-Pasteurization. It’s actually fascinating stuff.

        • td45 says:

          also because of the higher temps, it actually carmelizes some of the carbohydrates which makes it sweeter. i’m not on the whole organic bandwagon but Horizon Organic definitely is the best tasting milk I’ve ever had.

        • Cat says:

          Even regular milk can be found that is UHT pasteurized. You’ll find it in boxes with a shelf life of about 6+ months.

    • balthisar says:

      No probably about it. It’s definitely UHT. Here’s a neat fact: It’s shelf stable until you open it. That means you don’t have to refrigerate it.

      The only reason it’s sold in the refrigerated section is because lots of people don’t trust non-refrigerated milk. In much of the world, those foil and cardboard Tetra Paks of UHT, room-temperature milk are ubiquitous.

      I regret not being able to buy them in the United States for camping, but since I’ve learned about organic milk, I use that instead (although the Tetra Paks are a lot stronger). The only downside to UHT is the taste. Some people like it, but for me it’s a case of “better than nothing.”

    • tacitus59 says:

      I will have to try it again – I stopped using Organic I found that to be the opposite. But it might have been a brand issue.

  6. MutantMonkey says:


  7. delicatedisarray says:

    I have noticed this. I like to buy organic milk because it keeps longer. For the past couple shopping trips that I have needed to purchase milk on I have been unable to find and organic milk in stock, just empty shelves. Instead I’ve been buying the little bottles like you might find at a gas station.

  8. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    /almond milk

  9. SilentAgenger says:

    “Organic” used to mean something before marketing weasels got ahold of it. Remember the light blue “Low Carb!” labels that were plastered everywhere six years ago and are now pretty much non-existent?…that’s what will happen to the green “Organic!” label in a few years.

    • sirwired says:

      Unlike “Natural”, “Local”, etc., the “Organic” label has very specific USDA-mandated meaning. No fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides allowed. (Not for lack of trying by the food industry, mind you, who wanted to neuter it.)

      • MrEvil says:

        The rules for Organic apply to your entire operation. You can’t grow some organic some non-organic stuff on the same operation. It’s all or nothing.

        Because of these stipulations this whole Organic movement does anything BUT benefit the small farmer. My dad is a small farmer working ~1000 acres but he couldn’t afford to go organic for beef because he’d also have to grow organic wheat, corn, and cotton which aren’t nearly as profitable as the non-organic stuff.

        The big corporate farms can get away with it because they can divide their operation into wholly-owned subsidiaries which would classify as a separate operation.

        • TheHub says:

          Very true, my family runs a small dairy farm in NY and to go organic, the herd needs to be organic for something like five years before you can actually start selling as organic. That’s a long time for a small farm to wait before seeing any benefit from the increased costs…

    • yabdor says:

      Agreed. I have to chuckle when I hear the word “Organic”. Dioxin is organic. That doesn’t make it safe or desirable to consume.

      • Charmander says:

        Chuckle away. Then when you’re done, maybe you could do a little research on how foods get to be labeled organic. You might learn something.

        • yabdor says:

          Research you say? I don’t think you want to step up to that plate just yet little man. I doubt you’d be able to understand much of the research I’ve done. And feel free to research the origin of the word “Organic” as it’s been used by chemists all over the world for well over 150 years. What was that you were saying?

          • Charmander says:

            I’m talking about food LABELING, numbnuts, not the dictionary definition of organic.

            • yabdor says:

              Yeah… I know what you mean. The point is that you apparently don’t know what you mean. That’s the point. You don’t get to commandeer a word that’s been in common use for 150 years, with an accepted definition I might add, and then complain that people balk at your new and incorrect usage of the word. Saying “hey! look at all the other morons around me incorrectly using that word too” is an unconvincing argument. Dioxin is “organic” in both senses of the word. So stop being a douchebag. You were wrong then. And you’re wrong now.

  10. sirwired says:

    “Horizon Organic is seeing the most frequent shortages thus far, with some retailers reporting empty shelves after stock sells out.”

    As opposed to reporting full shelves after stock runs out?

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I guess Horizon isn’t popular here, I’ve been seening the “shortages” notice in our dairy section and … a full supply for the past several visits.

  11. comedian says:

    Meanwhile, at the egg & spoon race…

  12. dicobalt says:

    Still plenty of organic milk here in Florida. Lots of Almond and Soy milk too for those people with lactose problems.

  13. brinks says:

    The shelves are still full of organic soymilk. If organic is non-negotiable, there are still options.

  14. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Milk? If rum and beer were good enough for the founding fathers then they’re good enough for me.

  15. cspschofield says:

    adjective /ôrˈganik/ 

    Of, relating to, or derived from living matter
    – organic soils

    Of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin”

    All milk is organic.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      Ha! I love this. It’s akin to the whole “all natural, no chemicals” thing. Ummm, folks, basic water, dihydrogen oxide, is a chemical. Air is a chemical. You can’t get more all natural than that.

      • cspschofield says:

        At the hight of the All Natural nonsense, my Father (Historian of Science) used to growl “There are only five elements that we know of that do not occur naturally on earth. They are largely confined to the Physics building at Harvard.”

  16. Snowblind says:

    First world problem…

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Guess you missed the italicized credit at the end of the article and the tags, huh?

    • WhyNotTry says:

      This comment here has always bothered me. It is a blog for Consumers. Would not most the articles here be ‘first world problems’?

    • Charmander says:

      Well, I don’t live in a third-world country – do you?

      • little stripes says:

        But somehow you’re not privileged. Hmm.

        • Charmander says:

          Here’s a little exercise for you: define privileged.

          Is it being in the 1% versus the 99%?

          Is it having a job and not having to apply for food stamps?

          Is it merely having “the internet”?

          Or is it based on income?

          The problem when people throw out terms like “privileged”, liitle stripes, is that there is no consensus as to what they mean. For all I know, the word privileged could mean that I have all five senses and all my limbs – even though I might live in a cardboard box under the highway overpass.

  17. Mrs. w/1 child says:

    Horizon Milk is actually Dean Foods and calling what they sell “organic” is a bit of creative license. Want to avoid organic in name only? Join a CSA, join a meat and dairy co-op. Whole Foods imports almost all of it’s “organic” offerings and a lot of them come from China. Yep. China.

    China can’t even keep non organic food non lethal, why would you pay “Whole Paycheck” prices for “organic” anything from CHINA!?

    Check out the cornucopia institute for milk, dairy, and meat organic report cards.

  18. zark169 says:

    This is fairly humorous, especially since I know for a fact that organic food isn’t any bettery than non-organic.

  19. zark169 says:

    This is fairly humorous, especially since I know for a fact that organic food isn’t any better than non-organic.

  20. StumptownGeek says:

    I’ve seen several versions of this Organic Milk Shortage story recently and none of them show any sign of even minimal analysis of what’s happened.

    A couple of years ago there was a glut of organic milk on the market and organic dairy farmers started dropping out of organic, which has now resulted in a shortage: