California Milk: What is the Difference?
California Milk: What is the Difference?

  • Do you ever wonder why milk in California tastes creamier and richer than in other states?
  • Does fat-free milk in other states sometimes look “blue”?


Milk produced in California must meet specific standards that are higher than the federal standards. This is accomplished by fortifying milk with nonfat milk solids, which improves the taste, mouth feel and nutritional benefits. Nutritionally, this makes California milk superior, with more protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals … and minimal additional calories.


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified 4 nutrients of concern which Americans are not consuming in adequate amounts. These are calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber. Milk provides 3 of these nutrients in substantial amounts—calcium, potassium and vitamin D—and with the added nutritional boost in CA milk, the levels are even higher, making it easier to achieve the recommendations.


While actual nutrient values can vary with geographic region, season, and processing methods, here is a comparison of milk produced under federal standards to milk produced under California standards, using the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Database (


Fat-free Milk

Nutrient Federal Milk California Milk
Calories 83 91
Protein (g) 8.26 8.75
Fat (g) 0.20 0.61
Carbohydrate (g) 12.15 12.3
Calcium (mg) 299 316
Phosphorus (mg) 247 255
Potassium (mg) 382 419
Vitamin A (IU) 500 524
Vitamin D (IU) 115 120


Low-fat Milk (1%)


Nutrient Federal Milk California Milk
Calories 102 105
Protein (g) 8.22 8.53
Fat (g) 2.37 2.38
Carbohydrate (g) 12.18 12.18
Calcium (mg) 305 314
Phosphorus (mg) 232 245
Potassium (mg) 366 397
Vitamin A (IU) 478 500
Vitamin D (IU) 117 98


Reduced-fat Milk (2%)


Nutrient Federal Milk California Milk
Calories 122 125
Protein (g) 8.05 8.53
Fat (g) 4.83 4.7
Carbohydrate (g) 11.71 12.18
Calcium (mg) 293 314
Phosphorus (mg) 224 245
Potassium (mg) 342 397
Vitamin A (IU) 464 500
Vitamin D (IU) 120


Notes: CA values obtained from database using “with added nonfat milk solids, vitamin A and vitamin D” category. Federal values obtained from database using only “with added vitamin A and vitamin D” category.

Ninety-nine percent of California dairy farms are family-owned. California produces more fluid milk, butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese, which is available nationally under the Real California Cheese seal. Dairy products made with California milk can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies that the products are made exclusively with milk produced on California dairy farms.