Milk Prices By Year And Adjusted For Inflation

The average price in the U.S. of a gallon of milk was $3.59 in September compared to $3.56 in August, according to data published October 13, 2021 by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Averaging the BLS’s monthly pricing data for milk — fresh, whole and fortified, a gallon was $3.32 in 2020 versus $3.04 in 2019, marking a 9.2% increase.

For a bit of background, milk is one of the goods the BLS monitors for inflation, using it in calculating the overall change in consumer prices. Frankly, its relative importance is small for that purpose as it’s just one of many items within the bureau’s major "food index." You’ll find milk listed in the BLS’s monthly summary of Consumer Price Index by browsing Food->Food at home->Dairy and related products. (You may also be interested in this site’s page on food inflation.)

Since many of us buy milk frequently, it’s interesting to see how its price has increased over the years and how those original prices change based on inflation. The chart above and table below lists the average price of milk for a year and milk prices adjusted for inflation in 2020 dollars.

Inflation Adjusted Milk Prices (Years 1995-2020)

Category: Milk (Fresh, Whole, Fortified)

Year Average Milk Price by Year* Average Annual CPI for Milk** Milk Prices Adjusted for Inflation In 2020 Dollars
1995 $2.48 131.100 $4.03
1996 $2.62 141.100 $3.95
1997 $2.61 142.900 $3.89
1998 $2.70 147.900 $3.89
1999 $2.84 156.200 $3.87
2000 $2.78 156.900 $3.77
2001 $2.88 165.900 $3.70
2002 $2.76 162.100 $3.62
2003 $2.76 162.500 $3.61
2004 $3.16 183.400 $3.66
2005 $3.19 184.900 $3.66
2006 $3.08 181.600 $3.61
2007 $3.50 205.397 $3.63
2008 $3.80 217.220 $3.71
2009 $3.11 183.170 $3.61
2010 $3.26 191.173 $3.62
2011 $3.57 209.530 $3.62
2012 $3.49 211.266 $3.52
2013 $3.46 214.683 $3.43
2014 $3.69 227.740 $3.45
2015 $3.42 213.082 $3.41
2016 $3.20 203.133 $3.35
2017 $3.23 200.974 $3.41
2018 $2.90 195.638 $3.15
2019 $3.04 200.491 $3.22
2020 $3.32 212.621 $3.32

*Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Annual Average for Milk, fresh, whole, fortified, per gal. (3.8 lit) in U.S. city average, average price, not seasonally adjusted. CPI Average Price Data.

**Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Annual Average for Fresh whole milk in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted. CPI-All Urban Consumers.

How to Adjust Milk Prices for Inflation

In calculating milk prices to adjust for inflation, we’ll use an example that shows how to adjust them from 2000 to 2020 dollars. First, consider these facts which are shown in the table above:

  • The average annual price for Milk in 2000 was $2.78 per gallon.
  • The annual average CPI for Milk in 2000 was 156.900.
  • The annual average CPI for Milk in 2020 was 212.621.

The following formula shows how to adjust milk prices for inflation:

2000 Milk Price x (2020 CPI for Milk / 2000 CPI for Milk) = Adjusted Milk Price in 2020 Dollars

Using the actual numbers:

$2.78 x (212.621/156.900) = $3.77