Instead, Roy Morgan Research found the prevailing attitude appears to be “fresh is best”, with seven out of every 10 Australians—equating to 13.6m people—drink fresh milk in an average week, compared to the 2.9m who opt for a long-life variety.
Little change in tastes since 2010
There has been little change in these figures over the past five years, with an almost negligible shift in favour of long-life milk with a 1% increase in buyers between 2010 and 2014.
The proportion of Australians drinking fresh milk declined from 72% to 70%, and those who would drink both types of milk in an average weeks crept up from 8% to 9% over the same period.
Long-life milk buyers are most likely to form older households. While 18% of ageing consumers opt for treated milk, only 12% of the “Young parents and their families” demographic category pick long-life milk.
This group also has the highest incidence of fresh milk consumption (75%); in comparison, 68% of older households are below average in terms of their fresh milk consumption.
Geography makes little difference to the kind of milk someone drinks, with consumption fairly consistent between states, except for South Australia, where 18% of residents drink long-life or UHT milk in an average seven days.
Work cut out for long-life producers
“With fresh milk affordable and readily available, Australians have not embraced UHT or long-life milk to nearly the same extent as some European and Asian countries,” said Michele Levine, chief executive of Roy Morgan Research, adding that long-life milk producers have their work cut out to boost their popularity in Australia.
“Despite being almost identical to fresh milk in terms of nutritional value and calorie count, plus having the added bonus of not needing to be refrigerated until it’s open, UHT or long-life milk has made minimal inroads with Australian consumers over the past five years.”
Although UHT milk tends to be cheaper than fresh milk, it has been suggested the ongoing supermarket “milk wars”—in which the big chains have been racing to the bottom in terms of prices—have reduced the cost difference between the two formats to a negligible amount.
“Tellingly, young parents and mid-life families are even more likely than the average Australian to buy fresh milk, and less likely to buy the long-life variety. This suggests that they believe fresh milk is healthier and therefore better for their kids.