Friday, July 18, 2014

Peak Ice Cream

For more than 100 years, the USDA has recorded how much ice cream we eat. In 1909, the first year on record, Americans consumed only 1.6 pounds of ice cream per capita. We wanted more: ice cream consumption climbed for decades and peaked in 1946 at 22.7 pounds per person. Today, we eat only about half that much ice cream—12.9 pounds per person.

But there's a catch. The USDA distinguishes ice cream from "low-fat ice cream" (ice milk) and frozen yogurt. As Americans cut their ice cream consumption, they boosted their consumption of low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt. Consequently, the average American consumes a total of 23.9 pounds of frozen dairy products annually, which is almost identical to the 24.0 pounds of frozen dairy products consumed in 1946. In addition to eating 12.9 pounds of ice cream each year, we also eat 6.9 pounds of low-fat ice cream, 1.4 pounds of frozen yogurt, 0.9 pounds of sherbet, and 1.8 pounds of other frozen dairy products.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Trends in U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Dairy Products, 1970-2012

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