America’s dairy producers helped increase sales of and demand for U.S.-produced dairy products and ingredients in 2005 through their dairy checkoff investment in promotion, research and education.

“A large part of our success this year relied on the power of 3,” said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.™, which manages the national checkoff program. “From the federal government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that recommend a solid 3 servings of dairy a day to widespread support for the checkoff-funded 3-A-Day™ of Dairy program from dairy manufacturers, retailers, health professional organizations, and others, 2005 was a banner year for dairy promotion.”

Gallagher highlighted several accomplishments in 2005 that provide long-term value to the nation’s dairy producers.

1.      Federal Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 servings of dairy a day. Producer-funded nutrition research helped enhance dairy’s position in government food recommendations from 2 to 3 servings per day in 2000 to a solid 3 servings in 2005, the first time dairy serving recommendations have changed in 20 years.

2.      New Look of School Milk program reaches 3,500 schools. School milk in plastic, resealable bottles is now being offered in 3,500 schools during the 2005-06 school year, compared to the roughly 400 schools that offered milk resealable plastic packaging during the 2003-2004 school year. With 37 processors on board, the program now reaches nearly 2.5 million students with cold, flavored milk in plastic, single-serve bottles on the school meal line.

3.      3-A-Day™ of Dairy partnerships continue to grow. The collective value of support from 3-A-Day of Dairy partners (such as Yoplait, Kraft, Land O’Lakes, Safeway, Wal-Mart and others) more than doubles the investment of dairy producers in the program. To date, more than 60 dairy manufacturers and 50 key retail chains feature the 3-A-Day of Dairy logo on more than 2.5 billion qualified packages of milk, cheese and yogurt. Independent research shows the program works. In one retail promotion, category sales for milk increased by 2 percent, cheese by 3 percent and yogurt by 4 percent during the promotion period, compared to previous year sales data.

4.      Foodservice partnerships continue to increase dairy use. Checkoff partnerships with McDonald’s® and Wendy’s® helped introduce white and chocolate milk in plastic resealable bottles in nearly 20,000 restaurants, resulting in combined weekly sales of 5.2 million units per week, compared to 690,000 units of milk in cardboard containers. Other national chains are expected to introduce milk in plastic bottles in 2006.

In addition to milk, Wendy’s also worked with the checkoff to test and market a 7-ounce strawberry yogurt cup that is now a permanent menu option. This introduction helped lead to a 7 million pound annual increase in milk used through foodservice.

Checkoff-funded efforts also helped increase cheese use by partnering with national restaurant chains to introduce cheese-friendly items and drive innovation. Pizza Hut®, the nation’s No. 1 pizza chain, featured three new cheese-friendly items that the dairy checkoff helped to develop and promote.

5.      Dairy exports continue to grow. U.S. dairy exports have been rising steadily for more than 10 years and currently represent 7.4 percent of total U.S. milk production (on a milk solids basis), according to National Milk Producers Federation. Over the last four year years, one-third of new U.S. milk production has been sold internationally. U.S. dairy products are in greater demand globally, helped by the efforts of the U.S. Dairy Export Council® (funded in part through the dairy checkoff program) and its nine foreign offices.

6.      Producer-funded research further advances dairy’s health benefits. Nutrition research, funded in part by the dairy checkoff, gives the public more reasons to consume more dairy and become lifelong consumers. Over the past year, studies funded by the checkoff showed dairy products were a more reliable source of calcium than fortified products. Other studies showed dairy product consumption helps to lower blood pressure and increased dairy intake lowers the risk of diabetes in men.

7.      Producer research drives dairy demand. Checkoff-funded dairy product and ingredient research reached the food industry with the latest research results and led to new ways to use dairy as an ingredient in other foods and beverages. For example, a new line of “Smart Zone” energy bars manufactured by food giant Hershey’s® is projected to use up to 1 million pounds of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Also in 2005, a new checkoff-funded Web site, www.innovatewithdairy.com, helps food manufacturers learn more about dairy ingredients.  

8.      Producers key partner in coalition to help create healthier schools. The producer-funded National Dairy Council® is a founding partner of Action for Health Kids (AFHK), the only national organization dedicated to addressing childhood nutrition and physical activity in our nation’s schools. This fall, producer-funded dairy council staff partnered with AFHK and the National Football League® to introduce local school districts to “ReCharge!” an after-school program that includes physical activity and healthy snacking, including dairy, to students across the country.

9.      Producers lead industry-wide issues and crisis preparation network. To help build and maintain the image of dairy products and dairy producers among the public, dairy checkoff staff, along with National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association, led an industry-wide issues management system to diffuse potentially negative issues including:  on-farm security, dairy nutrition concern, and legal challenges from special interest groups. In addition, crisis preparation efforts include nationwide drills, spokesperson training, and outreach with industry and government agencies.

10. Marketing plan unites national and local producer marketing efforts. The Unified Marketing Plan (UMP) brings together national and local checkoff resources to strengthen dairy’s marketing position among the public, health professionals and other key audiences. Unity among local and national dairy promotion staffs eliminates potential duplication and creates more effective and efficient use of producers’ checkoff investment.

For more information about dairy checkoff successes or to learn more about specific programs, visit www.dairycheckoff.com

DMI