Comparing retail dairy sales to a pre-pandemic base in 2019, year-end 2021 dairy sales were up 11.7%! Keep in mind that 2020 brought a tremendous boost to retail sales because of the pandemic, and while last year’s sales were down slightly, they are still up double-digits from pre-COVID because consumers are still eating more meals at home.

More Year-End Results from Dairy Management Inc.:

  • The year 2020 brought a tremendous boost to volume at retail. While only yogurt and whipped topping registered 2021 volume lifts compared to a high 2020 mark, nearly all dairy products show growth versus two years ago.
  • With more in-home eating opportunities, meal ingredients and snacking continued to be important themes in 2021 with strong increases noted for cheese, butter and sour cream. Spending more time at home fueled the at-home coffee habit with increases noted for cream and half & half.
  • While ice cream sales softened in 2021 compared to 2019, frozen novelties realized double-digit growth. The single-portion nature of this product along with innovation from premium and healthier options helped to accelerate sales.
    • Fluid Milk: Category struggles are driven by conventional white milk. Value-added milks providing extra benefits to consumers are seeing increases. Lactose-free milks continue to post double-digit growth, building further on 2020’s high mark. Another growth area is flavored milk with 2021 volume above that of the last five years. Lower sugar claims and whole fat continue to be growth drivers for this segment. Online milk sales closed out 2021 with an increase of 17.5% over 2020’s record sales, nearly tripling 2019 and reinforcing that buying groceries online is a solid growth strategy.
    • Yogurt: Retail yogurt sales registered small volume gains in 2021 compared to 2020; however, volume is up nearly 5% from pre-pandemic (2019). Greek yogurt, already a mature segment, kept pace with growth of the category at large. Yogurt drinks continued to be a fast-growing segment in 2021, delivering consumers a package of taste, nutrition and on-the-go convenience. Child-friendly segments including tubes and pouches also grew yogurt sales in 2021.
    • Cheese: Cheese sales remain strong compared to pre-pandemic levels (+9% 2019 to 2021). Two of the most popular varieties, cream cheese and mozzarella, delivered the largest volume increases, followed by blends, parmesan and cheddar. The convenience of packaged shreds has been a driver of the cheese category, contributing nearly half of total pound growth over the past two years. The strength of cheese indicates that cooking at home remained popular in 2021, and that while consumers did visit restaurants more often in 2021, they also adopted to preparing more in-home meals.