JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers in a milk commercial. Photo: Milk Processor Education Program via AP

The coronavirus pandemic has been such a shot in the arm for Big Dairy that the "Got Milk?" ads are being brought out of retirement.

The big picture: Many Americans fully stocked their fridges in March, with sales of all kinds of milk up big compared to last year.

  • Kids who were no longer having meals at school were drinking milk at home, AP reports. Homebound adults suddenly had time for a leisurely bowl of cereal. Baking and cooking at home soared.

That trend held into the summer.

  • Dairy milk was up 21% year-over-year in March, and up 2% year-over-year in June.
  • Oat milk was up 270% to $132 million in that stretch, and almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk were also up.

Between the lines: This round of "Got Milk?" is expected to be different, AP notes.

  • TV ads feature videos culled from the Internet of people opening a gallon with their toes or jumping into a kiddie pool filled with milk and cereal.
  • In one TikTok spot, Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky swims the length of a pool with a glass of chocolate milk balanced on her head.

The bottom line: The dairy industry is in long-term decline, and that will probably return when Americans eventually go back to offices and schools.

  • Milk sales declined 13% from 2010 to 2018, CNN reported last year.
  • America's dairies are also closing at a rapid rate, with many small dairy farmers exiting the industry under financial duress.

But for now, at least, milk is giving some people a rare sense of normal.

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