A Domino’s Pizza executive says his company will not cut back on cheese, despite higher cheese prices.

“We’re not going to reduce cheese on our pizzas — that’s a commitment from us,” Brandon Solano, vice president of brand innovation at Domino’s, told those attending the Western Dairy Management Conference in March.

Cheese and a revamped recipe helped Domino’s increase its sales by nearly 10 percent last year.

“We increased our cheese usage by 29.1 million pounds in 2010,” Solano said. “We sold over 155 million pounds of cheese in 2010.”

For the past two years, Domino’s has been working in partnership with Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program.

Another partnership exists between DMI and McDonalds.

“It’s been through this partnership that we’ve really been able to accelerate many of the products we’ve been able to bring to the market,” said Alex Conti, senior director of U.S. menu management for McDonalds.

“Dairy is an integral part of our entire menu,” Conti said. “Last year, our dairy usage was up double-digit over 2009.”

Conti mentioned a number of dairy-friendly items that have done well with consumers. For example, the new McCafe Shakes  have helped the company achieve “more than double-digit” growth in its shake sales, he said. 

When a market leader like McDonalds comes out with a dairy-friendly product, it may be a catalyst for competitors to come out with their own dairy-friendly products.

•   Across all quick-service restaurants, cheeseburger servings rose 1.6 percent from 2008 to 2010. That represents an additional 300 million pounds of milk that went into the extra cheese sold. Source: CREST panel data, USDA.

•   The increase in specialty-coffee sales over that same time period represents about 200 million pounds of additional milk sold as a constituent ingredient. CREST panel data, USDA.

•   Pizza servings increased from 4.27 billion in 2009 to 4.45 billion in 2010. That 4-percent increase represents an additional 1.9 billion pounds of milk sold in the form of cheese. CREST panel data, USDA.