Through dairy industry partnerships and product and technology innovation, America’s dairy producers hold the winning hand to increase U.S. dairy product and ingredient sales long term, according to producer leaders speaking to more than 1,000 dairy producers and other industry representatives attending the 2006 National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB)/United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA)/National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Joint Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. The meeting demonstrated how the programs managed by dairy promotion and policy organizations provide the dairy industry with “A Winning Hand.”

“Through our checkoff, dairy producers are working together with co-ops, processors, retailers, restaurants, and schools to make our products more available so people will want to consume more,” said Paul Rovey, an Arizona dairy producer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy producers. “People will consume more because now they can get the products they’ve been asking for.”

What have consumers been asking for? One example is milk and dairy products in convenient packaging, and available when and where consumers want them -- including our nation’s schools and restaurant chains.

This concept of meeting “unmet demand,” which is the gap between current and potential sales, is one dairy producers cannot do alone. Rovey and other leaders assert that dairy promotion is committed to working with milk processors, cheese manufacturers and retailers to develop more dairy products that consumers really want.

At a UDIA meeting, producers learned how dairy promotion organizations are doing things today that are making a real difference. UDIA leaders affirmed the strength of dairy promotion organizations (national and 18 state and regional promotion groups) – the staff, promotion dollars and producer leadership – all are behind one very powerful plan.

The unified plan has helped increase dairy sales on many fronts. Examples include:

·         Placing white and chocolate milk in single-serve, plastic bottles into Burger King®, Sonic® Drive-In, McDonald’s®, and Wendy’s®.

  • Putting more cheese on more menu items at Pizza Hut®.
  • Building partnerships with the National Football League® and Action for Healthy Kids.
  • Including the 3-A-Day™ of Dairy logo on more than 2.5 billion dairy packages.
  • Establishing new markets for U.S. dairy products and ingredients around the world.

This plan is very different from what existed six years ago, when outgoing NDB Chairman Charles “Woody” Bryant, an Arkansas dairy producer, first served on the promotion board. “The first plan (in 2000) was good – and it was right for the time,” Bryant said. “But, that time has passed. Today, we have a much stronger plan, a more strategic plan, than ever before.”

Bryant recalled how producers across the country wanted to change how milk is served in the biggest restaurant chains in America and in our nation’s schools. “We stopped complaining and did something about it,” he said, pointing to the success with increasing availability and sales of single-serve milk in plastic bottles at more than 35,000 restaurants and in 6,000-plus schools. “Because of what we did, we now are selling more than 1 billion units of milk in single-serve plastic bottles,” Bryant added.

According to Bryant, producers have played a crucial role in making promotion efforts work by encouraging partnerships with dairy and other food industry players both in the United States and abroad. Dairy promotion is building partnerships “to make changes to sell more dairy products and ingredients,” he said.

Bryant urged producer leaders to keep the momentum going. “Producers create milk. The checkoff creates sales – your charge is to keep creating those sales,” Bryant said.

For more information about producer-funded checkoff programs, visit www.dairycheckoff.com.

Dairy Management Inc.