Whether we realize it or not, Canadian dairy farmers play an important role in our everyday lives. They provide the very food we need to nourish our families. They are stewards of the land that surrounds us. Their values mirror what’s most important to all Canadians: providing for our families, taking pride in our environment, and supporting our communities.
When it comes to the milk we feed our families, Canadian dairy farmers produce exactly the amount our communities need, with little to no waste. Consumers, in turn, are rewarded with high-quality food that is fresh, local, and tastes great—value added at its best.
We all have a story, and Canadian farmers are no exception. The story of a glass of milk is a Canadian one especially when it comes to price. It is the story of hard-working farm families and upholding the value of local food. It is the story of milk’s journey from farm to fridge, plain and simple. Whether you live downtown or uptown, choosing to buy milk can bring you closer to the farm than you might think.
Canadian milk was farm to table before farm to table was a thing
Canadian dairy farmers have been working together for more than 60 years in a system called supply management. Supply management is the reason why nearly 98% of dairy farms in BC are family owned and operated. Farm families spend 95% of their income locally, employing local people and supporting shops, restaurants and businesses. In addition, by sponsoring local events, donating to fundraisers, and giving product to food banks, family farms become the heart of BC’s communities.
By choosing Canadian milk, you are supporting family farms, and by extension, supporting responsible stewardship of our land base. When families own their land, they have a personal connection to it. Looking to the future, this higher level of commitment and care ensures farm land will be available for the next generation.
So, how much do dairy farmers make in Canada?
The price Canadian consumers pay for a glass of milk covers the actual cost to produce it. In fact, when comparing prices in restaurants versus the retail price of milk, it is important to understand that several factors contribute to these numbers such as transportation costs, processing fees, and retail distribution.
Retail prices are not set by dairy farmers or provincial organizations, but instead by grocers and restaurants. For example, a 250 mL glass of 2% milk in a restaurant costs around $2.50. Of that, a dairy farmer will receive $0.23.
To top it off, Canadian dairy farmers don’t receive government monetary support for the milk they produce. This means consumers only pay once for the food they purchase, not a second time, indirectly through taxes.
Is US milk dramatically cheaper than Canadian milk? Not really
All too often, cross-border milk prices are used to justify the argument that Canadian milk is way more expensive than milk from the States. The truth is, cross-border milk prices are typically known as loss-leaders, meaning their price is intentionally deflated in order to get you, the Canadian customer, in the door. But, these prices are not representative of the overall cost of milk sold in the US.
In reality, the average price for 2% milk across the US, according to the Retail Milk Price Report, was $3.21 USD per gallon. After converting to Canadian dollars, this gallon of milk would cost a Canadian consumer $4.22 CAD.* By comparison, a 4-litre pack of 2% milk in Western Canada costs $4.89 CAD.** When converted into Canadian currency, the prices between US and Canadian milk are comparable. ***
Additionally, milk produced in Canada does not have to travel long distances. By buying Canadian, you are supporting your local communities, while receiving a fresh, nutritious product.
Per serving, milk’s nutrition can’t be beat.
Did you know, Canadian milk has a set standard of identity? This means no matter where you go in Canada, the nutrients from a glass of milk will always be the same. In fact, a single glass of milk has key nutrients many Canadians continue to lack in their diet. This cannot be said for plant-based beverages or sports recovery drinks, which are often higher in price per serving, vary in nutrient content such as protein and Vitamin D, and contain anywhere from 11-14 added ingredients.
If you ever wanted to say “thank you” to a Canadian dairy farmer for making fresh, local, and great tasting foods, simply choose 100% Canadian milk. In doing so, the value of serving your family milk becomes more than just about price; it becomes a symbol of our shared values—quality, family, and a commitment to our community.
*Calculation of conversion rates: based on $1.31 CAD per $1.00 USD as of October, 27th, 2018.
**Based on the average consumer spending per 4-litre pack of 2% milk. Includes all types of milk segments (organic, premium, standard, etc.).
***A US gallon of milk is approximately equal to 4 litres, common units in which consumers buy milk in Canada and the US.