Producer Leaders Share Benefits of Industry Collaboration to Grow Dairy Sales

Producer Leaders Share Benefits of Industry Collaboration to Grow Dairy Sales

Highlights from the Dairy Checkoff’s 2011 Annual Meeting

”DairyThe dairy checkoff’s strategy of working with food and dairy industry partners is helping to “navigate a new course” for dairy producers by directly contributing to more than 7 billion additional pounds of milk sales since January 2010. That was the message delivered by dairy producer promotion leaders who spoke to nearly 1,000 producer and industry representatives at the 2011 National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB)/National Milk Producers Federation/United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) Joint Annual Meeting in San Diego.

The dairy checkoff provides producers a strong presence to help sell more dairy, according to Ryan Anglin, Arkansas dairy producer and NDB chair. “We do this by establishing relationships and building partnerships that strengthen dairy farmer voices in the marketplace,” Anglin said.

Anglin pointed to targeted partnerships with industry leaders, including McDonald’s® and Domino’s Pizza®. “These partnerships work because they bring together the checkoff’s dairy knowledge and expertise to food industry leaders that make a difference in the marketplace – not only through their efforts, but by capturing the attention and interest of industry competitors,” he added.

McDonald’s is a perfect example, according to Anglin. Working with the checkoff to create more dairy-friendly items, the chain grew additional milk sales by more than 1 billion pounds and is becoming a “dairy destination” for more than 27 million customers who visit McDonald’s restaurants each day.

Fuel Up to Play 60 in 70,000-Plus Schools

Beyond foodservice, partnerships extend to efforts to improve the health and nutrition of our nation’s schoolchildren. At its core, the partnership between national and local organizations form UDIA, a federation of 19 state and regional dairy promotion organizations that collaborate to develop and implement strategies that will grow sales, according to Bill Siebenborn, Missouri dairy producer and UDIA chair.

This includes the development and implementation of the in-school Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program. FUTP 60, now in more than 70,000 schools across the country, encourages students to consume nutrient-rich foods, including low-fat and fat-free dairy, and to have 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

“The program has obvious benefits to students and schools, but it also is a ‘win’ for dairy producers,” Siebenborn said. “It protects our freedom to operate in schools by helping ensure that milk, cheese and yogurt remain viable food choices on the school meal line, and in breakfast and after-school options.”

FUTP 60 also helps build lifelong dairy values among our next generation of consumers. “Schools matter. Kids’ school consumption represents not only 7 percent of total milk volume today, but 100 percent of our future consumers,” Siebenborn added.

The program extends beyond national and local checkoff programs. The National Football League® (NFL) is a Fuel Up to Play 60 partner, bringing “star power” by engaging all 32 NFL teams and its players to lead physical fitness and guide healthy eating components that include dairy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also provides partnership support to the program.

Power of Industry Collaboration

“Today’s dairy checkoff is engaging the greater industry, not to mention bringing other people’s money and resources to the table, all to advance producer priorities,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and chair of Dairy Management Inc.™, which manages the national dairy checkoff through funding from NDB and UDIA.

Through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, producers are helping develop strategies that will grow short- and long-term sales by addressing core producer priorities, including health and wellness, research and insights, sustainability, consumer confidence, globalization, and food safety.

“Three years ago (when the Innovation Center was established), we turned a dairy producer dream into a reality – a dream that has changed the way we do business,” Rovey said. “Our goal with the Innovation Center was to create alliances with all the key players to accelerate innovation and grow sales.”

As a result, today more than 800 people, representing 200 dairy industry and other partner companies, work across the industry on producer goals. This time commitment alone – more than 60,000 hours – is valued at more than $7 million.

Rovey pointed to other examples where producers bring the power of partnerships to the table to leverage dairy checkoff investments:

· Through the Dairy Research Institute, producers are working to build a $100 million dairy nutrition, product and sustainability research plan by 2013. So far, the plan totals $58 million, including $45 million in spending from non-checkoff sources.

· To advance health and wellness goals, dairy processors and manufacturers have invested more than $40 million in non-checkoff, branded marketing to promote the nutrient-rich benefits of dairy.

· To help meet consumer needs for reduced-sodium products, the industry has invested more than $300,000 in industry funding and in-kind contributions to help reduce sodium levels in cheese.

“The checkoff has gained a lot of momentum. Now, we must keep it going by guiding new product innovation, forming new alliances and giving our consumers more of what they want,” Rovey said.

For more information, visit www.dairycheckoff.com

11.16.2011