Milk Minute: Our Industry’s Evolution

By Joe Diglio, MMPA President & CEO

Our industry is continuously evolving, and MMPA is evolving with it. Our customers’ concerns today are different than what they were ten years ago, with a growing focus on our cooperative’s sustainability efforts. At MMPA, sustainability isn’t an end goal to reach, it’s the continuation of efforts that benefit the communities we work and live in. Our goals will continue to progress as we achieve results and make a positive impact on the people we influence, the planet we live on and the value we provide.

Our cooperative’s sustainability efforts focus on finding improvements to historical practices and seeking innovations to create new opportunities that offset our carbon footprint while supporting our members, employees and customers. We’re dedicated to investing in sustainable technologies that can be a positive solution we can use redundantly throughout the supply chain.

A recent example of that is our investment in Dairy Distillery, an ethanol plant that will use a byproduct of the ultra-filtered milk process to create a sustainable ethanol used for powering vehicles. This technology has attracted attention from players in the industry and is evidence that the industry is evolving. The international market is well established in sustainability efforts and because we compete in a global market, if we’re going to continue exporting our products, we need to adapt to what consumers today desire.

In order to achieve results in the future, we have to recognize that our industry competes for labor with other industries in a labor market that’s already short. We in the dairy industry need to collaborate by informing and educating the new workforce about the benefits in working in our industry. In addition, when we talk about labor challenges, it’s not just about lack of labor, but the training of new employees in the workforce as well.

A solution to the challenge is to implement technology to reduce the reliance on legacy processes that require excess human labor and to create efficiencies in workflows that save employees’ time. We need to continue investing in technology to adapt to workforce needs and prepare for the next generation of employees. We need to evaluate our employee policies in order to maintain our competitiveness in the marketplace. Today’s new generation of workers are different than in the past and it’s critical that we continue to adapt to the evolution of the workplace while meeting the demand for the products we produce.

With a product that is so dynamic, milk has the ability to be a solution to so many different challenges we’re facing as a country and as a global population today. There will always be a need for dairy in the future and that’s exciting. What other industry has the ability to provide nourishment and welfare for so many while achieving a sustainable environment that everyone can benefit from?

This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »