By Corby Werth, MMPA District 4 Director and President of UDIM
As dairy farmers we do not always see dairy promotions, and that is okay! Your dairy checkoff was created by farmers for farmers to build consumer trust and demand for dairy foods. Your checkoff investment is targeting those who do not have a direct connection to dairy.
As the president of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), I get to see firsthand how staff here in Michigan and at the national checkoff organization, Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) learn about consumers’ needs and then implement programs to get dairy information to them.
I would like to share about a few programs.
U.S. milk production has been expanding at a faster rate than domestic demand, and customers around the world are purchasing more dairy foods every year. This means the international market is an important area of focus. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which was created by the dairy checkoff, exports accounted for over 16 percent of total milk solids production in 2020. Since 2003, over half of all additional milk produced by U.S. farmers has gone to exports.
Another checkoff priority is creating life-long consumers, especially Gen Z, those aged 10 – 23. Their spending power is estimated at $100 billion. To reach this digitally-savvy audience, DMI partnered with popular video gamers who use their channels and influence to help tell dairy’s story.
UDIM has been reaching this age group for five years through our Conquer with Milk program. This program touches on every component of lifestyle wellness. The influencers that help deliver our positive dairy messages represent different backgrounds, including athletes, chefs/bakers, agriculture students, dietetics students and more.
Did you know 81 percent of global consumers said that it is very or extremely important that companies implement programs to help the environment? As dairy farmers we have a great sustainability message to share as we are continuously improving our farming practices and the entire dairy community has made the commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050. Sustainability does not have to be shiny, new technology, you can share how your plate cooler reuses water or talk about the new energy saving lightbulbs you installed.
According to Feeding America, 42 million people, including 13 million children, are at risk of hunger. UDIM’s goal is to keep milk as a necessary food for everyone, no matter their economic status. Our programs include raising awareness with consumers through retail milk drives and outreach initiatives, supporting our food bank partners building infrastructure to store and transport dairy and securing access to dairy in the food bank system.
Early in the pandemic my family applied for a UDIM grant to provide a milk cooler to the food bank in our town. As we watched the cooler being filled with milk, I knew how much that will help families in my own community.
I encourage you to learn about dairy promotion by signing up for the e-newsletter, joining the UDIM Board Mentor Program or attending a consumer event with UDIM staff. If you have questions call the office at (517) 349-8923 or call me at (989) 464-5436.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2021 issue of the Milk Messenger. Subscribe »