Your dairy promotion program: A voice for farmers

The last day of Annual Meeting kicked off with Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI), and Barb O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc. ™ and president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, providing an update on the Dairy Checkoff program.

Tom started off the session by recognizing the members in the audience who take time off their farms to serve on national, state and regional boards, and he acknowledged the hardworking staff within the program.

Barb then presented on the current state of fluid milk and dairy in retail. She noted that no single type of consumer exists and highlighted the importance of meeting different consumers’ needs. “Fluid milk is on the tip of the sphere in terms of what we’re seeing happen in the marketplace,” she said. “Innovation is foundational to keeping the category relevant.”

She provided a look at upcoming consumer trends in 2019, including wholesome wellness products, high-protein products, blended products, indulgent flavored milks and milk in new packaging, like single-serve, bag-in-a-box and home dispensers.

Noting the need for collective action, she recognized that milk does not have a category leader in retail, but that the members of the Checkoff program are “working to put milk back on the shelf.” Part of that means paying attention to the new and upcoming players in the retail field, including dollar stores, pop-up innovations and e-commerce.

She highlighted Amazon and the work DMI is doing to partner with the grocery sector of Amazon to promote dairy. “They understand the power of dairy,” she said, and noted that Amazon and other e-commerce players will be “game-changing” for the dairy industry.

She also provided an update on the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. “It puts the U.S. dairy industry at that table to tell the stories of the great work we’re doing,” she said.

It puts the U.S. dairy industry at that table to tell the stories of the great work we’re doing,
— Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI)

Tom then touched on the future, noting the competitors we know of now and the ones coming that we can’t imagine yet. “The question is not are they going to happen … the question is can we as an industry innovate and get back our share of the world population?” he said. To show an example, he played a video demonstration of a 3D printer printing a cheesecake shaped like a cow. “This isn’t frightening; this is an opportunity; and this is where we need to be,” he said.

He shared a way the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is working to help the industry get ahead of the curve: A proposal for a study to look at how consumers in 2030 will consume food and beverages.

Concluding that demand for U.S. dairy will increase, he said, “We can grow demand for U.S. dairy. It’s not just going to happen, but we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.”