America’s dairy producers, through their investment in the dairy checkoff, are working to help reinvigorate the pizza category and increase sales for pizza products containing more cheese.
Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program, is facilitating an industry task force to develop action plans on how the dairy and pizza industries can reinforce pizza as the favorite choice among American consumers for quality and value.  Industry experts concur that increasing cheese on pizza is key to increasing overall pizza sales. DMI is identifying short- and long-term solutions toward this objective.
“Pizza sales are important, because they directly affect overall cheese sales,” says Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and chair of DMI. About 25 percent of total cheese is used on pizza, representing more than 25 billion pounds of annual milk production, he adds.
Pizza sales have declined in recent years; some restaurant chains that were once pizza-centric are expanding into non-pizza categories. In response, DMI has begun an overall effort to increase pizza sales in both the short and long term, as part of a comprehensive effort to increase cheese sales, as outlined in the dairy checkoff business plan.
The plan will capitalize on pizza’s terrific variety and convenience. Market research indicates that, on average, each American consumes pizza 39 times a year. Pizza offers a great value and a “meal solution” to families.
“Because pizza sales account for more than $32 billion annually, we know that increasing pizza sales benefits dairy producers and the dairy industry,” says Tom Gallagher, DMI’s chief executive officer.
As part of the short-term strategy, the dairy checkoff is working with Domino’s Pizza to introduce a line of high-quality specialty pizzas that will use up to 40 percent more cheese.
Through the agreement, DMI — together with several state and regional dairy producer organizations — is investing more than $10 million to support the launch of this line of pizza nationwide. Producer-funded efforts will support Domino’s franchisees in advertising, public relations, local market promotions and communications activities. Domino’s investment — including menu development, advertising, in-store merchandising and other marketing efforts to support the launch — will total more than four times the investment of dairy producers. The partnership also will work to measure overall increases in pizza and cheese sales in test markets, and how changes in unit pricing at the consumer level affect total sales.
“Our partnership with Domino’s is the first step in our effort to increase sales of pizza products containing more cheese. Domino’s is an excellent partner because they believe that cheese should remain the focus for increasing pizza sales,” Gallagher says.
Overall, DMI’s partnership with Domino’s and others in the pizza category can help lead to increased cheese sales on behalf of U.S. dairy producers, he concluded.
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Source: Dairy Management Inc.