My daughters were recently discussing Kwik Trip’s new milk flavor, mint. Anna is looking forward to purchasing some to try.
    “It will be just like a shamrock shake from McDonald’s or our grasshoppers ice cream drink at Christmas,” she said.
    Catherine raised an eyebrow and eventually agreed. They both enjoyed the root beer flavor this past summer that reminded them of a root beer float.
    “I enjoyed the eggnog, but never got to try the pumpkin spice that was in October,” Catherine said.
    I know they have chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, too. Personally, I love all of those flavors.
    Catherine mentioned there was an Instagram post from Kwik Trip requesting customers to suggest new flavors.
    Cereal flavored milk, like Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Fruit Loops, could be something she would like to try. Also, chocolate malt, blueberry or raspberry, just like a milkshake but with real flavoring, not blue raspberry.
    Looking online, I saw someone created their own milk flavors to encourage their children to drink more milk. The flavors of milk ranged from chocolate marshmallow, cherry, caramel, peppermint, banana, even rose and lavender. That is very creative, and I would love to try some of these.
    My son, Curtis, on a trip to South Korea, mentioned that they drank carbonated milk with fruit flavors, and they were really good. All of my children agree: If we see a new milk product, as milk lovers, we are going to try it.
    How is it that a smaller Midwest company like Kwik Trip can go above and beyond to create a new flavor and demand for fluid milk and other national companies can’t step out beyond the chocolate and strawberry? I keep reading and hearing about how Americans have lost their love for fluid milk which is why Dean Foods and now Borden’s have gone belly up.
    I do not think Americans have had enough opportunities to try other flavors of milk. Who is testing and researching new fluid milk flavors? Maybe this is just my opinion, but if you were a dairy company struggling with fluid consumption, why would you not reach out to do research and ask people what they would like to taste in milk? It would make sense to try.
    Going down the ice cream isle in the grocery store, Dean Foods has a lot of ice cream flavors in different containers and sizes. Obviously, there were creative people in the ice cream flavor department. What happened to the fluid milk? Did the company not realize social media could help them get easy answers to the questions that could have made all the difference in the success of the fluid milk department? Apparently not.
    The average consumer wants to know where their food comes from, and farmers are the ones growing and taking care of everything that everyone eats. Dean Foods and Borden’s missed the boat on telling the farmers’ stories. Their farmers. Just like us selling our milk to Dean’s. The customers did not get to hear from us. They see a jug in the fridge. The big companies did not care to show their family farms behind that milk.
    Why would the consumers not reach over to try something that comes from a tree in California? Who is watching as these people are buying a milk-like products made from peas, coconut, rice, oat, soy or even hemp that are full of sugar and added calcium? The truth is that these shoppers do not have a connection to farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Their hearts are not connected to the real milk that comes from our family farms.
    It would not have cost too much for Dean Foods or Borden’s to have a social media department that would connect families who are looking for a natural, healthy product for their children or themselves.
    Show a video of farmers getting up early to milk and feed the cows with the imagery of the farm kids holding bottles for the newborn calves before they head off to school. A scene with Grandpa driving a tractor, cutting hay while the sun is setting. Then, end the video with a view of the whole family sitting together drinking milk with their meal while having a great conversation without cell phones at the table.
    In the Midwest, we love milk. We love it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No need to hire actors. Just ask us. Farmers are still here, milking cows that make the most nutritious, delicious and affordable product on the table: milk.
    Our family is so proud to support Kwik Trip by purchasing their new flavors of milk and also giving feedback and suggestions to answer their question, “What other milk flavors do you want to see?” It is this kind of social media survey that is helping this smaller company connect with its customers. Having a fluid milk company, right here in the Midwest, that is interested in helping their farmers by creating new products to keep the fluid milk consumption moving forward is something to cheer about.
    Way to go Kwik Trip.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.