Add cheese and yogurt to dairy vending machines in school and what do you get? Kids that voluntarily increase their total intake of dairy products. At least that’s what a pilot program conducted by the Midwest Dairy Association, Swiss Valley Farms and Dairy Management Inc showed.

The groups placed state-of-the-art vending machines in 17 middle and high schools in several Iowa and Illinois towns at the beginning of the 2002-03 school year. In addition to fluid milk the vending machines were also stocked with several dairy snacks.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Total milk consumption increased 5.1 percent by volume per school over the previous year when dairy vending machines were not used.
  • Top sellers were milk with 60 percent of vending sales, followed by cheese with 24 percent and yogurt with 16 percent.
  • Availability of 16-ounce units (vs. eight ounces) increased the total amount of milk sold.
  • Yogurt and cheese sales from vending were incremental; they added to total sales, rather than displacing sales that would have occurred from the lunch line.
  • Although more dairy units were sold through high school vending than through junior high school vending, more product moved through junior high schools than high schools on a per student basis.
  • Junior high students chose yogurt (24 percent) and cheese (31 percent) more frequently than their high school counterparts who selected yogurt (10 percent) and cheese (18 percent). High school students were more likely to choose milk (73 percent) vs. (45 percent) for their junior high counterparts.
  • School foodservice staff can be successful in vending dairy as a healthy alternative to other vended products.

"Based on earlier vending tests, we thought the next natural step would be to offer other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, to give students more healthy snacking options throughout the school day," said Kevin Stiles, vice president, marketing and industry coordination for Midwest Dairy Association.

For more information, please e-mail Pat Rheel, director, fluid milk marketing, DMI, at patr@rosedmi.com.

Dairy Management Inc.