America’s dairy producers, through their investment in the dairy checkoff, unified industry partners and led collaborative efforts that drove sales and innovation in 2010.

Industry-wide collaboration and engagement reached new heights through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which was founded by dairy producers in 2008 to address barriers to growth and identify industry-wide solutions to grow long-term sales.

This year saw unprecedented resources from more than 180 processors, manufacturers and other businesses working together to develop and implement action plans that will lead to long-term, sustained category sales in the areas of health and wellness, consumer confidence, globalization, sustainability, and research and insights.

“When we come together for the common good of producers and the entire dairy industry, we see the power of teamwork and collaboration,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and chair of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national checkoff program. “More than 1 billion pounds of additional milk were sold over the past year through partnerships.  “This is just the beginning, as we find more innovative ways to give people the products they want, when and where they want them.”

Other highlights included:

McDonald’s becomes a ‘dairy destination.’ Thanks to insights and support from the checkoff, dairy is more prominent than ever at the world’s No. 1 restaurant chain.  New offerings include frappés, smoothies, specialty coffees, Angus burgers and Angus snack wraps. These efforts have led the entire quick-serve category to see an increase of more than 500 million additional pounds of milk annually.

Pizza cheese sales grow. Domino’s Pizza continues to work with the checkoff on revitalizing the pizza category by promoting cheese as the critical ingredient for taste and quality. The chain’s latest introduction is the American Legends Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza that uses 82 percent more cheese than a regular one-topping pizza.  Domino’s also continued its aggressively priced cheese pizza carryout promotion, which required an additional 60 million pounds of milk during the promotion period.

‘Smart’ approach to school pizza. The checkoff’s partnership with Domino’s also led to the creation of Smart Slice, a tasty, kid-approved pizza that uses reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, among other ingredients, to meet increasingly stringent school nutrition guidelines. Smart Slice is now available in more than 1,000 schools across the country.

Exports bounce back. Exports in 2010 are expected to represent nearly 13 percent of milk solids production, up from 9 percent in 2009 and 11 percent in 2008. This year’s record shipments were assisted through the producer-funded U.S. Dairy Export Council. Programs include efforts directed at Asian foodservice to increase cheese sales.

‘Fueled Up’ for children’s health. The producer-funded Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program – conducted in partnership with the NFL and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is expanding its ability to make a difference in the health and wellness of students by encouraging healthy eating, including dairy, and 60 minutes of physical activity each day. More than 70,000 schools – representing more than 36 million students – are actively engaged in FUTP60, which helps protect and promote dairy’s place in the school environment as public health leaders consider ways to provide healthier food offerings. FUTP60 is now supported by a foundation that will help bring additional resources and attention to help combat childhood obesity. The foundation, which is comprised of 21 leaders from business, industry, academia, and the arts, intends to raise money to help reward schools that offer better nutrition, including low-fat and fat-free dairy, and physical activity.

Lactose intolerance efforts advance dairy solutions. Dairy producers are partnering with HP Hood and its Lactaid brand – the category leader with more than 80 percent of all lactose-free dairy sales – to help grow fluid milk sales. If the millions of adult consumers who restrict or avoid dairy consumption due to real or perceived lactose intolerance can be brought back to dairy, it could mean increased sales of approximately 2 billion pounds of milk annually. As part of the program, the dairy checkoff developed -- a social media effort to build awareness and provide dairy-first solutions to those suffering from lactose  intolerance.

Dairy Research Institute drives innovation. In June, dairy producers founded the Dairy Research Institute to strengthen U.S. dairy’s access to and the industry’s investment in technical research to drive innovation and grow sales domestically and abroad. Through the Institute, the industry can combine resources and avoid duplication by working together to fund and conduct pre-competitive dairy product, nutrition and technical research, along with efforts to make the industry reach its goals in sustainability.

Narrowing consumer-producer disconnection. The dairy checkoff continues to invest in programs that help protect and promote consumer confidence in dairy products. As part of this effort, nearly 2,000 dairy producers have participated in the “Telling Your Story” communications training program. TYS provides producers with the resources and training to effectively share their story with the public. In addition, the checkoff recently updated the website, which offers insights and information about how producers care for their animals and the land while providing safe, wholesome and nutritious dairy products.

Issues management and crisis preparation systems in place. Dairy producers are committed to helping protect and promote the image of dairy products, producers and the industry. This includes an industry-wide network that helps address misinformation in the marketplace through a comprehensive issues management system. In 2010, milk quality and safety, plus the nutritional benefits of chocolate milk, were among issues checkoff staff addressed. The checkoff also led three regional crisis drills that engaged many sectors of the industry, focusing on hypothetical scenarios ranging from animal disease outbreaks to the intentional tampering of dairy products.

For more information about producer-funded programs, visit

Source: Dairy Management Inc