The crucial question
Nutrition is changing. What role will milk have in the future? Taking stock of where we are and where we are heading.

From television cookery shows to food influencers on social media and researching nutrition on our phones, we are more interested than ever before in food and consumption. Beyond finding new flavors and the food trends that are reshaping our kitchens, people also want to know more about how food is produced. Consumers are paying more attention to animal welfare and sustainable approaches to resources, and they also want to know more about health, which is closely linked to what we eat. And amid all this change, differing facts and opinions are floating around about what constitutes good nutrition. This applies not least to milk, which is a staple food.

But milk is coming in for its share of criticism as it is sometimes seen as an environmental problem or a health risk. But although there are plenty of prejudices out there, these are not reflected in people’s shopping behavior. Despite dismal prophecies and doom and gloom about younger generations embracing plant-based alternatives, people are still buying milk and dairy products. There are plenty of reasons for that, starting with the fact that milk and dairy products are not just foods but also play a psychological role in our lives. In our culture, they build a sense of belonging and identity. For many, milk conjures up fond memories of childhood, of moments, situations and rituals from the past.

Many people have positive associations with the taste of milk, each recalling their own individual stories of when they were growing up. Milk is also good for people’s health, providing high-quality protein, calcium, potassium, vitamins and trace elements. It is much healthier than its reputation suggests when it comes to health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Milk does not trigger these kinds of diseases, according to an ongoing study by the University Medical Center in Freiburg. What is needed are facts to make all these discussions more objective. But the dairy industry must also face up to the criticism, introduce climate-neutral production methods and respond to consumer wishes and changing food trends. Over the following pages, we take a closer look at the role milk plays in our diet, and why it will remain a constant in what we eat.