As dairy consultants and professionals, it’s been a frustrating time trying to improve our clients’ bottom line when milk prices just won’t budge. Even the most efficient dairy producers have had difficul-ties, to say the least. It would be nice to have help on the top line of the balance sheet, too, through better milk demand and price.
Exports are controlled by world market conditions and politics. We can’t do much about that. Butter’s the bright spot, and cheese, ice cream and yogurt have pretty much held their own. Yet, we can do our part to reverse the 60% decline in per capita fluid milk consumption in the past 75 years.
This decline, in my opinion, is our own fault. We’re lousy marketers. Our competition is much better. There’s no excuse for allowing plant-based drinks to capture a big chunk of our market or allowing misconceptions and fake news about dairy to perpetuate with consumers.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
First, hopefully many of us submitted comments to the FDA on proper names (not milk) for plant-based beverages.
Next, we can be advocates for the dairy industry when we come in contact with consumers during our travels, with our friends and relatives, children, teachers, professors and health professionals. We should be ready with facts.
First, what milk is not.Almond, soy and oat “milks” are industrially produced emulsions made by mixing water, sugar, oil, whiteners, stabilizers and emulsifiers with small amounts of blanched almonds, soaked and ground soybeans or oats.
Sounds natural and appetizing, doesn’t it? More than 50% of consumers believe plant beverages provide the same nutrition as milk. Almond drinks have one-eighth the amount of protein present in milk. Some consumers think they also contain milk.
We should emphasize milk is a completely natural food. We know the essential nutrients it provides: highly digestible protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, calcium, potassium, A, D and B vitamins.
However, milk has many beneficial non-essential attributes as well. University of California research reveals milk has evolved over millions of years to provide amino acids, enzymes, lactoferrin, immunological factors, oligosaccharides and antimicrobial factors to protect the infant. Researchers still don’t know what all these compounds do, but the question we should pose to consumers is: Can you afford not to include milk and other dairy products in your diet?
PROMOTE WHOLE MILK
We’ve taken a first step by allowing 1% chocolate milk back in school lunch programs after the Obama era mandates for skim. When I was a kid, we had whole milk. We even had a milk break in the afternoon. Now whole milk’s good for you again and exposing kids to great tasting whole milk as a choice in school will make lifelong consumers. Write your senator, representative or even drop a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He’s one of us.
Turn friends on to whole milk or whole chocolate milk. Tell them about the beneficial attributes of milk fatty acids and CLA’s. I have a client who bottles his own milk and markets mainly whole milk. I got my parents and their friends to try whole milk from this dairy. It reminds them of how milk used to taste, and they’re hooked.
Remind consumers who have trouble digesting milk about great tasting products such as fairlife and A2 milk. Kudo’s to these progressive companies for making these products.
Dairy consultants and professionals can be a part of the milk marketing effort, not just because we depend on the dairy industry for a living, but also because we know better than the average consumer that dairy products are natural and nutritionally superior to any of the current dairy alternatives.