Recently I was at a conference at which coffee was served. On the coffee table there was a carton of Neilson brand cream with the following information listed on top: "5% M.F. dairy creamer". (Note: "M.F." stands for milk fat here).

It then goes on to advertise the following about itself: "Light - 33% less milk fat than our Neilson 10% M.F. cream".

In a conference full of mathematicians, none of us were able to figure out how these numbers possibly made sense. (5% is half (50%) of 10%, not 33%). Surely the text should read "50% less milk fat".

Furthermore, if the brand is trying to get across that this product has less milk fat than the other, surely from an advertising perspective they would want to lean into the 50% tagline, and describe it as healthily as possible.

My question is: How can these numbers possibly make sense, and is there something from a food/dairy perspective that I might be missing here?

cream carton

  • Only thing I can imagine is if there’s set % values they can/do round to. 33% less than 9% is 6%. I know some nutrition fact stuff gets real weird with what counts as “0” and how you get percentages. Have seen 0g added sugar labeled as “1% DV” before … and 1g carbohydrate as “0% DV” for the same item Commented Jun 28 at 3:51
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    Marketing department is not made of Mathematicians, thinks "math is hard" and also thinks they don't need no mathematicians to keep them honest (well, it's the marketing department, so "honest" is not exactly likely, is it?)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 28 at 17:05
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    I was pondering whether there may be any other fat that is not milk fat in either of these products but all three references clearly state milk fat.
    – quarague
    Commented Jul 1 at 7:42
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    can you compare the serving sizes? they may consider a serving of the 5% milk fat to be larger than a serving of the 10%? Commented Jul 5 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


They cannot be correct. LOL. I mistakenly thought it could be the percentage of a reconstructed milk/cream recipe, but @Stephie correctly pointed out I was not making sense. Percent fat (for milk or cream) is by legal definition the percentage of butterfat by weight of the milk product in both Canada and the United States. Even fudging with rounding (9.5% down to 5.4%), it is no where near just a 33% reduction. It just has to be a mistake.

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