An optimistic outlook for dairy in the Midwest

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A solid foundation of dairy promotion in 2022 has set Midwest Dairy up to adapt and respond to consumer needs as we enter into 2023. We will continue to build on our dairy promotion work this year to ensure the dairy farm family’s investment in checkoff is serving them well to build trust and demand for dairy. Since starting the three-year strategic plan in 2021, Midwest Dairy has worked toward the vision of bringing dairy to life for a better world and the mission of working with others to give consumers an excellent dairy experience. Our accomplishments and progress toward building trust and demand show the value of checkoff as we build on our relationships with new and existing retail partners and continue to increase trust in dairy through nutrition resources and education.
Initiatives from Midwest Dairy are reaching more consumers than ever throughout our 10-state region with 39 million consumers residing in the marketplace. The year is off to a great start already, with dairy products playing a key role in consumers’ resolutions for a healthier version of themselves. Our retail partners, including Hy-Vee, Coborn’s and others, are capitalizing on this initiative as many promotions are happening now to spotlight a healthy diet by promoting yogurt and recipes containing dairy products paired with deals at the cash register.
I believe collaboration is a key focus for all programs and activities to expand dairy’s footprint and consumer trust. Midwest Dairy is maximizing the impact of the dairy farmer’s checkoff investment by working with and through partners to share information and real-time experiences that showcase how dairy products resonate with today’s consumers. For example, a new partnership with Godfather’s Pizza Express has received excellent consumer engagement from a limited-time offer of a five cheese and sausage pizza. Midwest Dairy is funding the point-of-sale materials for this project that are currently being used in the three-month-long program. Dairy also continues to reach younger consumers through well-known social media influencers such as Mr. Beast, a gaming and YouTube icon, who shares insights and promotes dairy to his millions of followers online.
Midwest Dairy continues to support dairy in schools based on research and a legacy of leadership in student health and wellness. Current work on business case studies will help school decision-makers grow meal participation with dairy-based smoothies, coffee stations and breakfasts. Studies show an opportunity to increase the number of students choosing school meals paired with a coffee beverage, encouraging them to consume milk they otherwise may not. These dairy-based programs generate excitement for milk and other dairy foods and the school meal program. A high school STEM pilot program is also giving dairy farmers an opportunity to shape the next generation and infuse dairy into the science curriculum. As a result, students learn how dairy is part of a healthy lifestyle, the scientific principles behind production decisions and get an inside look at related career opportunities.
Lastly, 2023 brings opportunities to support and work closely with those in the dairy industry. Midwest Dairy collaborates with processors, farmer-owned cooperatives, and dairy food and beverage manufacturers with the Cooperative and Processor Support program. Through this program, we provide market research and consumer insights, ongoing communications resources, and marketing assistance for new and innovative dairy products, which allows us to share with our partners to promote dairy in the marketplace. Undeniably Dairy grants are available to Midwest Dairy farmers, dairy groups and agricultural organizations to share their own story at a local level. These grants turn great ideas for promoting the dairy community to consumers into reality. In 2022, grants were used to bring dairy to new places and audiences, host on-farm events and engage with Generation Z consumers. Applications are now open again for the 2023 funding cycle.
As a busy year unfolds, I am optimistic about dairy in 2023. We’ll continue to focus on five areas: increasing dairy sales, growing trust, advancing research, creating dairy checkoff advocates, and developing farm and community leaders as we showcase the unique nutritional benefits of dairy and how it is sustainably produced. And as always, we’ll promote the farmer’s dairy story – the unique wellness benefits of dairy and their dedication to caring for the planet and cows is always at the center of what Midwest Dairy does.

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