Hey Starbucks, Got Milk?
It’s fair to say that I have a slight addiction to coffee and whenever I find myself in a town with a coffee shop (this happens maybe once a month), no matter what time of the day, I guarantee you I’ll be stopping in for that vanilla latte. Whether it be Scooters, Starbucks, or a cute little coffee shop on main street, a fancy coffee has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.
Sadly, Starbucks recently decided to make the outrageous stance and denounce the use of dairy in their stores. They feel that if their customers cut back on dairy in the beverages they order, their carbon footprint will be greatly reduced. Starbucks utilizes .3 percent of US milk production. So yes, it’s great they want to raise awareness about the environment, but there are much greater impacts they could be focusing on that would have a actual effect. What about focusing on electricity, transportation, single-use plastics, or maybe reducing food waste in their stores?
One thing their anti-dairy headline does do is make a “head turning” headline. Essentially, Starbucks is looking for attention, just like the Golden Globes did a few weeks ago when they decided to serve a vegan dinner at the event.
About 80 percent of the world’s population consistently consumes liquid milk or other dairy products. These products are supplying humans with energy, protein and micronutrients that include calcium, magnesium, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins B5 and B12. The idea of eliminating dairy cows and their products would throw the world’s food supply into disorder as dairy is the fifth largest provider of energy and the third largest provider of protein and fat for humans. And the obvious; dairy is an affordable, nutritious product.
Along with the rest of the agriculture industry, the dairy industry has been put under great scrutiny over the past few years. On top of being attacked, dairy producers have had to deal with low market prices and over-supply; technology advances have created a glut of supply and many consumers have switched to non-dairy alternatives. Between 2009 and 2018, milk production increased 13 percent.
Small dairies are quickly becoming a thing of the past due to consolidation within the industry. Small farms can’t survive the negative margins that dairy farmers are facing. In 1987 half of the American dairy farms had 80 or fewer cows. By 2012 the figure had risen to 900 cows. Between the years of 1992 and 2018, an average of 10 dairy farms closed per day.
Without the outrageous attacks, dairy farmers are struggling as it is. Starbucks sources its coffee from Asia, and if you stop by at any time during the day, there is guaranteed to be a line at least half a dozen cars deep in the drive through, running, waiting for their coffee. It sure is mind boggling that Starbucks feels the best way to reduce their carbon footprint is by cutting dairy. We had a good run, Starbucks, but you won’t be getting any more business from this vanilla latte lover.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the July 24, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News