Checkoff reflects on 2023

By Molly Pelzer | CEO of Midwest Dairy


As we prepare for a new year, staff have been reflecting on 2023, evaluating our work, and using what we’ve learned to increase dairy demand and consumer confidence in 2024. Checkoff worked diligently in 2023 on the farmers’ behalf, focusing on being efficient and effective regarding farmers’ 15-cent investment for promotion and research nationwide.  

As I think about the past year, a few things stand out in my mind as checkoff focused on reaching consumers in different ways and sharing dairy’s story about caring for the planet. We do this as we work to build both trust in and sales for dairy. Dairy farmers have shared with us that they love to hear about checkoff’s enterprising work to build demand for dairy as we focus on reaching consumers in multiple ways to remind them why they love dairy.

Many of these connections are unique and out of the box but also utilize our partners’ resources. Partner resources are especially helpful with online efforts. We have teamed up with partners such as Kum & Go, Casey’s and others to connect with consumers through their loyalty apps by encouraging shoppers to purchase dairy items to reach other savings. Kum & Go alone has over 1.75 million app subscribers. This is an excellent pool of consumers to appeal to. 

Throughout the year, checkoff also continued to grow our efforts in the e-commerce space. By partnering with Chicory, we promoted recipes with dairy ingredients linked to an e-commerce grocery cart, making it easy for shoppers to put the dairy ingredients directly into their online shopping cart. Recipes are an opportunity to connect dairy with shoppers, and Chicory makes it as easy as possible for them to purchase ingredients. 

Our work with Cub and Runza is another example of a partnership using unique ways to connect with consumers. Both partners featured a dairy farmer this past year to communicate with shoppers. Runza had a dessert promotion that connected a Nebraska dairy farm, the Thiele family, to the ice cream promotion while highlighting their sustainability story. More recently, Cub worked with dairy farmer Kennedy Youngren, a mom and dietitian, to reach consumers in-store and on social media through recipes, nutrition tips and showcasing her local roots. You can check out Kennedy on Instagram at @the.legendairy.dietitian.

Not only is checkoff bringing the farmer’s voice to the marketplace, but we are also listening. Dollar General has been a desired partner for Midwest Dairy, and in 2023, we finally gained collaboration with the chain. This partnership will remind shoppers to add milk to their carts through strategically placed in-store signs running this holiday season. These signs focus on milk’s affordable nutrition using our new Undeniably Dairy tagline “Real Milk. Real Nutrition.” Signage also promotes pairing milk with other popular snacks, like cookies. This effort began as a joint program with Midwest Dairy and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan but has continued to grow as other state and regional checkoff organizations were invited to join the campaign to expand dairy’s footprint. There are 2,369 stores participating in the Midwest and at least one per state across the 10-state region.

I have always been passionate about making sure you, as dairy farmers, are informed of how your checkoff investment is working for you. Midwest Dairy staff uses multiple initiatives to better reach you, including text updates, newsletters and magazines like the Promotion in Action and Dairy Promotion Update, and our Facebook platform to keep you updated. I urge you to ask your farmer relations managers how to better connect with checkoff through these options and more.

The new year will bring about changes at Midwest Dairy, including the beginning of a new three-year strategic plan. Please remember that this plan was created with input from the dairy community, Midwest Dairy’s board and staff. The three-year strategic plan builds on the work of the last three years and continues to bring the dairy farmers’ voice to the marketplace. Merry Christmas to all, and best wishes for 2024.


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