National, state and regional dairy producer checkoff board members recently approved a $158.1 million 2006 Unified Marketing Plan (UMP) budget geared to help U.S. dairy producers grow their businesses by working to convert milk into products consumers really want.

The budget includes financial commitments from the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB) and state/regional dairy promotion organizations participating in the 2006 plan. More than 300 dairy producer checkoff directors from national, state and regional dairy promotion organizations approved the plan. (Budget details are included in the charts below.)

“The new business plan is about driving sales of and demand for U.S. dairy products,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc.™, which brings together dollars from NDB and state/regional dairy promotion organizations to fund the plan. “Our purpose is to solve business problems. It takes an industry-wide plan and pooled resources to make this happen.”

The 2006 UMP is further leveraged by strategic partnerships that add millions of dollars to dairy checkoff-funded promotion efforts, such as initiatives with national restaurant chains and retail outlets. Fluid milk, cheese marketing and dairy image budgets include funding for several major dairy checkoff initiatives, including: school marketing efforts to make milk more competitive in our nation’s schools, the 3-A-Day™ of Dairy program, whey nutrition research, and maintaining dairy’s positive image with consumers and health professionals, among others. All programs bring long-term value for producers’ investment, Rovey said.

In addition, the NDB approved the authorization of $6 million on a one-time basis for the purpose of funding a three-year study to develop methodologies to estimate air emissions from U.S. dairy farms. According to Woody Bryant, Arkansas dairy producer and chairman, NDB, the allocation of these funds will not have a direct impact on 2006 dairy promotion programs.

Primary areas of concern include:

  • Single-serve milk.
    For fluid milk, growth will happen through innovation in fresh fluid, extended shelf-life milk, and aseptic products. The 2006 plan will work to create strategic partnerships with milk processors and suppliers to spur production capacity of plastic bottles.
  • 3-A-Day of dairy.
    The 3-A-Day of Dairy program aims to increase the average consumption of dairy closer to the government-recommended three servings a day through a comprehensive nutrition-based marketing and education program. This includes advertising, retail promotions, Internet communications, and health professional outreach, among other efforts. The marketing investment by 3-A-Day of Dairy food industry partners in retail promotions more than doubles the investment of the dairy checkoff.
  • Reaching kids in schools.
    Generations of adult milk drinkers have been lost due to their milk experiences as kids, and specifically their milk experiences at school. Improving school milk is the priority of the dairy checkoff’s childhood nutrition initiatives. Today more than 3,700 schools representing nearly 2.5 million students offer single-serve milk in plastic bottles. Dairy promotion leaders are determined to show processors and schools how investing in a product change can make a big difference for them and the entire dairy industry. 
  • Milk in foodservice.
    The dairy checkoff works to increase U.S. dairy product sales at national fast-food chains by making dairy available where consumers want it. More than 200 million pounds of additional sales have already been realized through efforts with fast-food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s® and Wendy’s®. In 2006, the dairy checkoff aims to help stimulate even more sales by working with Burger King, Sonic Drive-In and other chains to help introduce new milk offerings.
  • Innovation in cheese.
    Innovation is the key to growth in cheese. This includes partnerships with cheese companies to help spur product innovation, particularly at retail, for Hispanic cheese, and both adult- and kid-targeted snacking cheese. Partnerships also can help meet unmet cheese demand through new cheese-friendly menu items at national restaurant chains.
  • Dairy ingredients.
    Several partnerships are underway in the area of whey research and promotion. A whey consortium, a whey research project co-funded with two global companies, and an upcoming worldwide research and promotion effort will all make dairy more competitive worldwide with soy.

“The checkoff is working with industry partners that share our common goals, leveraging our respective expertise and resources, to grow incremental sales,” Rovey said. “We are becoming the ‘go-to’ experts with research, knowledge and insights that stimulate innovation and new thinking. This is how we will grow the business for dairy producers.”

For more information about dairy checkoff programs, visit www.dairycheckoff.com.

Dairy Management Inc.