Farm shares for dairy foods vary by product
The farm share--the portion of a food's retail price that represents what farmers earn for the agricultural commodities used to produce the food--varies depending, in part, on the degree of processing. Farm shares for highly-processed foods are generally smaller than less processed foods. Dairy products are a case in point. Minimally-processed products like milk and butter have higher farm shares than cheese or ice cream. In 2010, the farm share for fresh whole milk was 54 percent, while the farm shares for Cheddar cheese and ice cream were 30 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Cheddar cheese's lower farm share reflects the costs to process milk into cheese, along with aging, cutting, shredding, packaging, and/or advertising costs. Ice cream makers have greater costs for non-milk inputs like packaging, advertising, and ingredients such as nuts and cookie bits. The data for this chart come from ERS's Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer data set.