SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – Over the years, and especially this year, the price of milk in the fluid form has continued to rise.
In 2012, USA Today was reporting milk could double or triple, to $8 a gallon, and at that time, the national average (end of December 2012), for milk pricing was $3.50 a gallon.
In our state, milk prices have not reached that price, though I was shocked a couple of weeks ago to learn that in Hawaii, a gallon of milk runs for approximately $9.40 and $.9.99 a gallon. The milk was on sale from about $7.99 to $8.99 a gallon because of the two hurricanes they had near the islands.
I can’t imagine paying nearly $10 a gallon for milk, especially with how my family drinks it…then again, could I have imagined paying about $4 per gallon several years ago?
According to the New York Post, milk prices have doubled since 2009, when they were then approximately $2 per gallon (this article notes about $2.88).
Some of the main issues affecting milk prices of late includes: droughts in the Midwest, and the surge in pricing due to exports to China.
Reuters reported the same, especially about the exports. According to Reuters, the demand last year from China, equaled production in the U.S., European, Australia, and New Zealand. China exports milk from our country in the form of milk powders, which still has an impact on fluid milks.
Reuters said pricing should be stabilizing within this summer as production is equalized, and this is a short-lived crisis.
In China, on the other hand, the purchases were due food issues with melamine added to baby formula in 2008, that killed a few children, and made thousands sick. Additionally, a botulism scare, and other issues contributed to the need to up milk production. Click here to read this article from Reuters in New Zealand, about the crisis. Accordingly, China has slowed down on its purchasing and has now amassed a stockpile, which in turn, will stabilize their supply of what has been referred to as “white gold.”
This cycle, on the other hand, has set a new precedence, with all of us acclimated to such a high cost for our products. Supply and demand. It would be nice if the prices would lower again, though I would be surprised if that happens.
So what are things like today? I checked out prices in our area, of some of the common and larger shops where residents may purchase milk. These prices are some of the general assessments, with some of the prices gathered as early as August 9, 2014, and some as recent as this evening.
First, remember if you’re doing a price comparison between brands of milk, and stores, to also check the unit price on the milk, which is often measured in price per quart. Click here to check out my article about unit pricing, which explains how to evaluate costs based on this pricing measure.
Below is a summary of my results:
|Dollar General||Newton||$4.15||$2.70||Not avail|
|Quick Chek||Newton (both locations)||$4.09||$2.85||$1.75|
|Stop & Shop||Sparta||$3.79||$2.59||$1.59|
There are, however, some important points to note with these prices.
- Quick Chek Stores seem to run specials on 2% milk varieties. All of them that I visited offered a special of two gallons of 2% at $7.50 together, or equating to a price of $3.75 per gallon (the 2% milk would remain at the $3.99 per gallon if only one was purchased). The Quick Chek in Lafayette offered two gallons of 2% milk at $7 for two, or $3.50 per gallon, when I visited the store.
- ShopRite in Byram had an advertised price of $3.39 a gallon for 1% milk.
- At ShopRite Stores for Newton and Franklin, the price per gallon for all varieties averaged at $3.69 for the lower fat milks, and was $3.89 for whole milk (pulling a receipt of mine, by the way, from June 24, shows the increase already in cost for ShopRite, with milk priced at $3.79 a gallon for whole milk).
- The best price I actually received for milk, though it shows differently on the chart, was at Pathmark. The week that I shopped there, the America’s Choice Milk, one of the store brands there, was two for $7. The week I also visited the store, milk was on sale for $3.29 a gallon for the lower fat types.
- Many of the stores offered Tuscan as an option for sale. The Tuscan milk products averaged higher per cost. At Stop & Shop and Weis in Newton, the Tuscan Milks averaged $4.39 per gallon. At Weis in Franklin, the Tuscan Milk ran $4.29 a gallon. Amazingly, at the Walmart in Franklin, the Tuscan Milk was the highest, at $4.98 a gallon. Isn’t Walmart supposed to be more affordable?
- Speaking of the Franklin Walmart, as documented in my photos, I found the most shocking sight in this store’s milk display. At the time I was there, I searched high and low for the milk display in the regular food aisle. In the Newton Walmart, the milk is situated in the food section by the refrigerator case. In the Franklin Walmart, I questioned if they even sold milk. I received my response when I headed near the exit, and saw that the milk was kept beyond the registers at the front of the stores. The milk, as evidenced in the photos, was kept in a jumbled display. Pricing was difficult to find, and many of the milks were not stacked with their coordinating prices. Some of the prices were not properly adhered to the shelves. Worse yet, some of the milks were not even upright, as pictured, and I saw some on their sides, dripping down onto the shelves. I was personally stunned by this whole display, as it was not neat, or organized, and did not appear sanitary to me. I did not spot this in the Newton Walmart, though I will note, pricing was not easy to match to the milk containers, as compared to the other stores.
- Just because a store has the word “Dollar” in it, does not signify the best deal. Case in point with Dollar General in Newton. When Dollar General opened several years ago, the store boasted some of the best milk prices in town. In fact, friends and I marveled about it when we chatted together while meeting up at the playground with our children. However, that was short-lived, and the next time I walked in, I noted the prices had spiked. Out of all of the stores that I visited, Dollar General’s milk was the highest price per gallon.
- Organic fluid milk products tend to run minimally between $5.99 to $6.99 per gallon.
- Prices at Dale’s and Hayek’s, local markets, I found to be fair and comparable to the larger supermarkets, where one would expect prices to typically be lower. In some cases, the prices were higher at the markets. And I have shopped at Dale’s, for example, where the store has put milk on sale, and it was lower than the supermarkets.
The prices here, of course, can change soon due to market fluctuations. They can also change with sales, so be sure to check your sales flyers in the stores, look out for potential savings in register coupons, and more, for best buys. Use them as a gauge to determine where you may find the best deal when milk shopping. And if you know that you’ll be in a particular neighborhood mentioned in this story, where the prices are decent on milk, you can plan accordingly to purchase.
We know that gone are the days, at least for now, of the $2.78 a gallon average for milk (1990), $1.60 (1980), $1.32 (1970), $0.95 (1960), $0.82 (1950), $0.34 (1940), and the $0.10 to $0.15 (1930…then available per quart only, and delivered many times by the milkman, by a horse and wagon. The milk was pasteurized with the cream at the top).
Although these are prices from days gone by, hopefully, some of these suggestions here can help you to find savings on this item, which is one that likely many will purchase regularly.
Do you have a favorite place to buy milk that offers great savings, and is not mentioned in this article? We’d love to hear from you! Post your comments to this article directly, or on the Facebook Post where it is located…or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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