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Why is raw milk so crazy expensive?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We have one farm locally that sells raw milk. It is $10 a gallon but, it's 45 minutes away - way too far to drive for milk.

They sell to a local store that is a little bit closer but, they sell it to them for $10.95/gal and that store marks it up to $12.95/gal.

Really? $12.95/gal for milk? Who can afford that?

I don't understand why it's so crazy expensive. What am I missing?
post #2 of 16
Dunno, around here it's cheaper than organic milk from the regular grocery store. I expect it will rise in price here as it is getting harder for farmers to get it to the consumer since state inspectors keep harassing them. We don't drink milk, but if we did I would buy raw as much or as little as I could afford or I wouldn't buy it at all.
post #3 of 16
uh... well for starters conventional milk is too cheap. then there is the fact that it costs alot to have healthy happy cows (I know because I have my own herd). Pasture costs more than corn or other junk they feed conventional cows. Plus- there is a market where people are willing to pay the premium. I am assuming this is organic? It costs alot to keep your certification up as well. I believe that it is worth every penny though. Before we started our herd- I drove 90 miles each way to get good fresh milk.
post #4 of 16
Grocery stores may sell their regular milk for less than their cost, to draw in customers hoping they will buy the rest of their groceries there. I know where I work, we lose over a dollar on each 4L bag a customer buys.
post #5 of 16
I think it just depends on where you get it. My friend was paying $7/gallon (she drives in once a week to a meeting spot) then she met a lady who offered to sell it for $4/gallon.
post #6 of 16
Doesn't sound all that expensive to me... I pay $7/half gallon.

Like a pp pointed out - the "manufacture" of raw milk is more labor intensive and far more expensive than that of conventional milk. Add in any additional testing or certifications they have to carry/perform, and that just adds to the cost. Not to mention the fact that raw milk spoils faster than pasteurized, so it has to get to the consumer faster, and has to be pulled from the shelf faster - that also costs.

And then of course there's good old supply and demand.
post #7 of 16
We started out paying $3.75/gallon about three years ago, but the cost has risen to $6/gallon, which I am happy to pay. We buy 4 gallons, which lasts 4 weeks, and that $24 forms a huge foundation for what we eat for the month. No matter what meats or produce or other foods we buy, that dairy seems to be the most health-giving part of our diet. If they were to increase to $10/gallon, I would still gladly pay it, it means that much to me. Raw milk kefir alone has brought me such healing!
post #8 of 16
I pay $10/gallon and I drive 45 min each way to pick up. I dunno, for me it's worth it. If I wasn't drinking raw I doubt we'd be drinking milk at all - I'm just glad we have a good source!
post #9 of 16
I pay $10/gallon, luckily I only have to drive about 5 min to get it, but I would drive farther. We weren't drinking milk at all until we went raw and I am amazed at the dif. I can't even tolerate pasteurized cows milk, but have no issues w/raw cow's milk.

The reasons listed by pps make sense. The farm I get my milk from is very small, only has 2 cows and 3 goats. We drink cow and goat milk.

We just ran out and I am going to get more today, yummy!
post #10 of 16
We pay $8/gallon and drive about 35 minutes each way and I have never thought twice about it! Then again, we CAN'T get it in store OR on farm in MD, so maybe its just the stakes are higher for me!

We also buy eggs, meat, kefir, butter, veggies, etc. from our farm, so the drive isn't just for milk, but I'd still do it if it were!

However, I would have a hard time paying $13 a gallon in a store (or anywhere!)
post #11 of 16
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
We have one farm locally that sells raw milk. It is $10 a gallon but, it's 45 minutes away - way too far to drive for milk.
I wanted to add - right now I'm looking for other people in my area who may want to join so we can split the driving. I've got at least one or two other takers right now and I just put out feelers on freecycle. Maybe that would be an option for you?
post #12 of 16
In addition to the reasons already listed, milk sold raw for consumption (as opposed to pre-pasteurization conventional milk) is not subsidized by the government (i.e. your tax dollars). The subsidization of feed crops (corn, soy, etc.) is a huge part of why conventional milk is so "cheap", the true costs are hidden from the consumer. There's also the cartel-like system of milk processors who have a virtual strangle hold on dairy farmers, often they pay the farmers less than it actually costs to produce the milk and the government pays the farmers the difference. So, comparing the price of raw milk that is produced outside of that system to the price of conventional or processed organic milk in a grocery store is very deceiving. That doesn't help if you simply can't afford it, but there is a factor of sticker shock when switching one's food buying away from typical grocery-store fare. A shift in attitude about the true value of real food is often in order.

BTW, in my state, the legal raw milk available to purchase in stores is $16+/gallon, and since I have a cow and know how much it costs to feed her quality, organic stuff and maintain adequate pasture in this climate, not to mention the level of testing and regulation, that price doesn't seem out of line to me at all.
post #13 of 16
IDK... I certainly couldn't afford it at those prices!! I pay ~5.30 a gallon here.. but thats with a herd share. Its about 20+ minutes away....
post #14 of 16
I pay $4.50 a quart...so that's $18 a gallon. I don't buy much, obviously, but I do buy what I can and feel its worth it. It sells out in hours too. There is another brand that is slightly cheaper...I want to say $8 for a half gallon. I've come to accept that everything is just more expensive here. I can get non-homogenized organic local milk for around $6 a half gallon, so sometimes I do that, but usually only if I'm planning on culturing.

I'm planning on moving out of state in about 3 years and am dearly hoping things like raw milk and pastured eggs will be cheaper there. I feel your pain.
post #15 of 16
The real reason is that regular milk is too cheap, for what it is. it takes some getting used to, but the way i've tried to make myself understand it is that you are paying for something very healthy for your body, better for the environment, and paying for the additional costs the farmer has - cows on pasture, more labor intensive, etc. If I had a family of 5 or something it would be harder obviously to buy a ton of it. But it's just 2 of us, and we go through less than a gallon a week. I often pay almost $4 for a latte (I need to stop that)! So why should $10 a gallon for something much healtier be ridiculous...
post #16 of 16
I have friends who are dairy farmers that sell to a well-known conventional milk company. Due to price controls, it's literally costing them 50 cents to sell every gallon of milk they produce, and they've got a large herd.

Milk in the store is 'cheap' in part due to price controls. A lot of conventional dairy farmers are going to go out of business very soon because it's costing them more to produce the milk than they're making for each gallon received.
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