The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., partnered with Morning Consult, Washington, D.C., to conduct a nationwide poll of 2,200 Americans to better understand consumer preferences for fluid milk and related beverages. The results will help strengthen IDFA’s advocacy related to Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which governs policy related to school meals and WIC, as well as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The poll was conducted online Aug. 16-18.

When given the option to choose among whole, reduced fat 2%, low fat 1%, skim, other (almond, soy, oat, other plant-based, lactose-free) or do not consume milk, respondents overwhelmingly chose fuller-fat milks because they believe they are most nutritious.

Other findings include: 

  • 67% of adults across key demographics believe 2% and whole milk are the most nutritious types of milk, 36% of adults believe 2% milk is the most nutritious and 31% believe whole milk is the most nutritious. 
  • At least 86% of adults prefer dairy milk (69% prefer 2% and whole milk) compared to just 10% who prefer “other,” including lactose-free milk and plant-based beverages. 
  • Half of the adults believe it is important that public schools offers low-fat-flavored milk with school meals. Meanwhile, 29% have no opinion, and the remaining 22% believe it is unimportant. In other words, strong opinions about offering flavored milk in schools vastly outweigh strong opinions against. 
  • Adults feel similarly about fuller-fat milk with school meals—53% believe it is important that milks like 2% and whole are offered in schools. Again, 29% have no opinion, while just 18% feel it is not important. Currently, only low-fat 1% and skim milks are allowed in schools.
  • Overall, more women than men believe it is more important that their children have access to fuller-fat and flavored milks in school. 
  • SNAP recipients (336 of the 2,200 respondents) are the only demographic that report preferring whole milk for themselves or their families (42%). SNAP participants also report that they believe whole milk is the most nutritious (46%), the only demographic to do so.

Respondents with incomes under $50,000 (inclusive of 336 SNAP and 115 WIC recipients, respectively, who self-identified) believe more strongly than those with higher incomes (above $50,000) that fuller-fat milks are most nutritious and prefer offering fuller-fat as well as low-fat flavored milks in schools.