Wendy's, the nation's third-largest quick-serve restaurant chain, recently began to promote three new dairy-friendly items on its popular Kids' Meal menu at nearly 6,000 stores across the country.

In April, Wendy's began promoting the lowfat strawberry yogurt and granola cup as a new side item choice with its Kids' Meals. Wendy's also is offering turkey and American cheese sandwiches, and ham and American cheese sandwiches as new Kids' Meal entrée options.

This is just the latest step in a successful relationship between dairy producers and the restaurant chain. Dairy producers, through the national dairy checkoff program, have worked with Wendy's for several years to increase dairy sales with the chain. For example, in the summer of 2004, the dairy checkoff helped Wendy's launch and promote 8-ounce white and chocolate milk in plastic bottles as a Kids' Meal beverage choice. Producer-funded test market research also led to the strawberry yogurt and granola cup introduction as a permanent menu item last year.

"Partnering with an innovative restaurant chain like Wendy's helps increase sales and drive demand for dairy," said Paul Rovey, an Arizona dairy producer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national checkoff. "By offering dairy products that appeal to children, this partnership helps fulfill a primary goal ­ to form lifelong dairy consumers."

Dairy promotion organizations are working with Wendy's to promote the launch of the new Kids' Meal choices featuring dairy through on-line communications, among other efforts. Wendy's also will invest in TV advertising promoting the new options beginning this month.

Dairy Management Inc.