Milk - why does it cost more when there's less?

I can’t get the search function to work, so please forgive me if this has been asked before. I want to understand why lactose-free milk is so much more expensive than the regular. I but low-fat milk, but to get the lactose-free variety I have to pay twice as much. I ralize the process may cost something… but that much?

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

Yeah, that much.

You really can’t compare products, though, there are a lot where less of one thing is a higher price, more work to get the stuff out, ya know? Decaf coffee more $$…

More work and, if there is a smaller market, unit cost is higher.

Edy’s was making a lactose-free ice cream, too, but I can’t find it anymore. Yeah, it was more expensive, but it was just about the only ice cream I could eat without being sick all day the next day. Breyer’s doesn’t make me ill, but Breyer’s is even more expensive that the Edy’s Lactose Free.

You know, I’ve been wondering this myself!

“I’m not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.”-- Calvin and Hobbes
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Well first you’ve got to buy those damn expensive lactose free cows, then make sure all their feed is lactose free. OK, I’m kidding here.

Are we talking Soy milk here or actual cow milk that has had the lactose removed? What’s on the ingredients label? If the lactose is being removed from actual cow milk I’ve got to think it would be an expensive and technical process quite unlike just removing or reducing the fat content. If I get some time today I’ll surf the net and see what I come up with.
SUN-E-VU DAIRY – Get butter soon

Well that didn’t take long.

Membrane Pocessing page at the Univ. of Guelph:
Scroll down to the section on ultrafiltration using membranes. If I understand it correctly each pass reduces the amount of lactose by 50%, so several passes would be necessary. Of course it looks as if this info. is from 1995 and improvements happen rapidly in food production.
There seems to be a lot of usefull info. on these sites I’ll have to go back when I have more time.

Also for info. on milk makeup for the various breeds check out:

Now if I can get the links spelled right we’ll be all set.

Do they actually remove the lactose?
I just assumed they added the lactase enzyme.

I say it is like anything. They charge more because the public will pay for it.

I work for a company that provides loyalty-marketing systems to grocery stores, so every once and a while I work with promotions for specific products. One of these products a few days ago was Lact-Aid Ice Cream of a bunch of different flavors. So you might want to check a few stores to see if this ice cream alternative is out there in your area. I believe they’re also selling a few other types of dairy products also, so lactose intolerant people (somewhere around half the population I think) should be pleased.

Whoa! Is it really that high? That seems like an awful lot to me… if this is true I’d expect that roughly half the kids in my school classes would have skipped the milk, and this was definitely not the case.

Or is this a racial thing? I know that asian food does not generally contain cheese, but I thought this was just cultural.

I’ll chip in with the little I know –

Lactose intolerance does affect a significant percentage of the population. It seems to be related to race – Asians and Eastern Europeans, IIRC, are the groups most heavily affected. But kids skipping milk in school wouldn’t be a real good indicator because the disease usually isn’t present in young children but usually first appears in the late teens, early twenties – i.e. college age.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

in some populations almost everyone over the age of 4 is lactose intolerant (I seem to recall Thailand being the example of this for some reason)

IIRC My anthro prof had a theory that people whose ancestors were herding types generally could digest milk, at least until their teens. In cultures where milk was not a food staple, no tolerance was developed.

Overall, I’ve also heard that at least 50% of the population is intolerant. I developed lactose intolerance around puberty myself, and it’s gotten worse over the years…

Thank you all for the info! As regards lactose intolerance, studies published recently report that many people are not actually intolerant, but rather just out of the habit. Seems that if it’s not required the body stops producing the enzyme needed to properly digest milk etc. So, someone who eats little dairy decided to have pizza, and - surprise! - his stomach is no longer able to process it without discomfort. This is not to say that there are not people with lactose intolerance, but that the numbers are not so high as previously reported.

This is good news for women, many of whom are starting to worry about bone loss etc. but finding it hard to add milk to their diet. For some (but by no means all) all it will take is adding small amounts of dairy to the diet over a period of time in order to get the body producing the proper chemicals. In my family it seems to be a real intolerance, or possibly a drug interaction - whichever, I will just have to pay for the lactose they remove!

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

Sassy you are correct. I read in Men’s Health that Johns Hopkins just completed a study and found about 2% of the White population to be truly lactose intolerant. Blacks were the group most likely over 60% with Asian orgins coming in at 20%. These figures were for only people over 21.

It also indicated that virtually no one was allergic to MSG to the point that people have been led to believe.
In blind studies these two things don’t pan out.

Thank you, Voltaire! I will start looking for that ice cream at the next opportunity!

When my daughter was born, I asked her pediatrician if I should look for signs of lactose intolerance in her, since I’ve got it. The doctor told me that it was something I might want to look for, but not to expect, because it usually didn’t show up until the teens or twenties. I was about 25 when I started having trouble with it. My kid, on the other hand, loves her milk so much I swear one of these days I’m going to find cheese in her diaper.

I should have known better than to eat pizza while reading this thread. Cristi, you’ve ruined my lunch, I hope you’re happy. =B^p

Sassy, ever try VitaSoy drinks? You can have calcium enriched versions:

You can usually get this at any Chinese food store. This company and their products had been around for a LONG time, around the world.

Sorry AuraSeer…I’m having pizza for lunch too, if it makes you feel better :wink:

I would love to try soy, and have tried some soy cheese - but my partner (the one with the problem) thinks soy is the work of the devil! It would have to taste almost identical to milk, and I don’t know that is so – if so, I will try again. Soy would be a boon to me, since I’ve read that it helps with various female complaints, mostly those in the peri-menopausal < s? > period. It’s just hard to convince hard-core American carnivores that any replacement for the real thing can possibly be good!

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

Vitasoy’s formulation tastes like sweetened creamed milk to me. I love it. Anyway, I suppose you will have to try it yourself. I really recommend it.

Does your partner like tofu? Tried Tofutti ice-cream? I can’t imagine anyone disliking it. These are all made with soy!

Of course, the local spot prices sometimes can only illustrate your original post, with no answer!