Case Study: A study of a different sort for JDM

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You’ve probably heard the advice more times than you can count, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your physical well-being. As someone who advises dairy farmers – including your clients who may be hosting June Dairy Month breakfasts next month – the results of a survey in Michigan indicate inviting people to an on-farm breakfast could be the most important meal for their financial well-being, as well.

Exit summaries conducted among 2012 Michigan June Dairy Month breakfast visitors indicate 90% of them left on-farm events with positive impressions about modern dairy farming. Those surveyed also said they had an increased trust in milk as a safe food, and increased trust in farmers as a source of information about food production. The breakfast visitors also shared their impressions with others: More than 88% of participants told others they should attend an on-farm breakfast event in the future. Only 7% said they left an event with concerns.

The event also translated into more dairy product purchases. Nineteen percent of visitors increased purchases of at least one of three dairy products as a result of attending an on-farm breakfast. Some households increased purchases by one gallon of milk, 0.5 lbs. of cheese and 2.5 units of yogurt per week. The average increase for all households attending an on-farm breakfast was 0.2 gallons of milk, 0.2 lbs. of cheese and 0.33 units of yogurt per week. Extending these weekly increases to the estimated 5,653 households attending a 2012 on-farm breakfast event, the annual value for milk, cheese and yogurt totaled $404,340 in additional retail sales.

“Consumers want to know that farmers will do the right thing,” Ted Ferris, Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Animal Science, and Nancy Thelen and Ashley Kuschel, MSU Extension, noted in summarizing the survey results. “They greatly appreciate the opportunity that breakfast on the farm provides to tour modern farms. Since farm tours provide transparency, they build trust. As participants are excited about what they have learned, they return home and share their experience with family, friends and others. In addition, their improved trust or understanding in how milk is produced and handled apparently results in increases in dairy product purchases as consumers are most concerned by factors that affect them and their families directly, such as milk safety.”

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