Dairy Products Profile

Revised December, 2018.

Overview

Only about one-third of the U.S. milk supply is actually processed into milk and cream products; the remaining two-thirds of the milk supply is used to manufacture a wide range of dairy products. Sales of these dairy products, such as butter, ice cream and yogurt, account for tens of billions of dollars annually in the United States. Producers can capture a part of that billion-dollar market by processing and selling their own line of value-added dairy products manufactured on their farms.

Processing

The United States had 1,306 dairy product manufacturing plants in 2017, up eight plants from the previous year. With 206 dairy product plants, Wisconsin continued to support the most plants in any state. Other leading dairy processing states were New York with 130 plants and California with 113 plants. 

Value-added Products

Butter
U.S. butter production in 2017 totaled 1.85 billion pounds, up slightly from the previous year. More than half of the butter came from cream not needed when milk was used for fluid milk or cheese. 

Frozen Desserts
There are just over 400 ice cream processing plants in the United States. The table below shows the amount of regular ice cream, lowfat ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet produced that year. While the amount of regular ice cream and sherbet declined from the previous year, the amount of frozen yogurt jumped by double digits.

Frozen Dessert Production

Frozen Dessert 2011 U.S. Production, in million gallons
Ice Cream, Regular 902
Ice Cream, Lowfat 469
Sherbet 62.5
Frozen Yogurt 43.6

Source: NASS, 2018.

Sour Cream
Total sour cream production in the United States was 1.4 billion pounds in 2017, about the same as 2016. Sour cream was processed at 115 dairy plants throughout the country.

Yogurt
Yogurt production in 2017 totaled 4.5 billion pounds at 170 processing plants. 

Yogurt is being touted as a healthy or functional food due to probiotics. According to Dairy Management Inc., probiotics “are key ingredients in any product promoting digestive health.” About 80 percent of the yogurt manufactured in the United States contains Lactobacillus acidophilus. The Bifidobacterium strain is also found in dairy products.

Yogurt is now being incorporated into other products. General Mills', Kellogg's and Quaker Oats sell cereals containing yogurt. McDonald's and Wendy's offer yogurt-based products on their menu. Purina has introduced dog and cat foods containing yogurt. Yogurt has also been added to toothpaste, mouthwash, facial masks and suntan products.

Sources

Dairy Products Annual Summary, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.

National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), 2017.

USDA, 2017

Dairy Consumption, USDA, 2017