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Changing Beverage Landscape Creates Opportunities for Dairy

Below is the second in a 10-week thought leadership series by Western Dairy Association’s President and CEO Cindy Haren, discussing the challenges facing the dairy industry and how the dairy checkoff is working to remain a leader in developing solutions and creating innovation.

We aren’t who we were a decade ago. And we won’t be the same as we are today a decade from now. Today, a growing number of American households do not include that nuclear family of a mom, dad and 2.5 kids. Instead, the number of single households is on the rise. As is the number of households with no children. Our population is aging, staying single, having less children and living a very different life than we did not that long ago.

The result is a “me” consumer. Consumers are adapted to having an abundance of choices in everything from food to television channels. And they are opinionated about the choices they make thanks to the Internet that provides thousands of web sites where we can share our experiences, opinions and preferences with anyone and everyone whether it’s on a social media site like Facebook or a consumer-driven review community such as epinions.com.

Today’s beverage landscape has evolved greatly in keeping with the desires of the “me” consumer and our rapidly changing demands. The dairy aisle is a great reflection of this change. What once use to be just a couple of refrigerators showcasing white gallon jugs of whole, 2%, 1% and skim milk has grown to include a variety of dairy alternatives including lactose-free and a variety of other products made from almonds, coconut, soy and rice. What’s more, the white gallon jugs are now also appearing alongside a variety of different sizes of containers – individual bottles, pints, quarts, half-gallons. The variety can be overwhelming when all we want is milk!

So how is the dairy checkoff helping to keep traditional dairy at the forefront?

For starters, the dairy checkoff continues to be a leading source for dairy nutrition education, working to make sure consumers know that milk is the best nutritional value for the money. At less than 25 cents for an eight-ounce glass, milk has nine essential vitamins and nutrients. The checkoff also provides consumer education for those dealing with lactose-intolerance, partnering with Hood/Lactaid to show consumers that they can continue to enjoy milk.

On a larger scale, the dairy checkoff is continuing to work closely with processors and partners to develop innovative ways to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Checkoff partners like McDonald’s have developed a number of new ways to incorporate dairy in new menu items including smoothies, coffee-based drinks and sandwiches. Domino’s has been another considerable partner, leveraging its considerable social media audience of 9 million consumers to generate a successful launch for its new Pan Pizza, featuring two types of cheese with seven to eight ounces of cheese per medium pie.

Keeping up with the ever-changing desires and demands of consumers, the dairy checkoff is constantly leveraging partnerships and working to educate consumers to ensure that dairy remains a key component in the American diet.

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