In the two months since he officially began his work as a dairy economist with the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, Marin Bozic (MAH rin BO zic) has traveled more than 5,000 miles getting to know the Midwest dairy industry. The people and companies he's met during those travels are providing the input he needs for his new job identifying and quantifying opportunities for dairy producers to capture economic benefits from the consumer market.
Bozic is an assistant professor of dairy foods marketing economics in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota, a position funded by dairy producers through Midwest Dairy Association. He completed his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in Madison just before he started work in August. A native of Croatia, Bozic was selected by a committee of Midwest dairy industry leaders last spring. They had identified a void in the economic research available to the industry one that could provide the economic analysis for developing and delivering dairy foods and ingredients to meet consumer needs, and drive dairy demand and consumption.
"The position is unique," says Bozic. "Dairy economists usually work on policy or milk production issues. To my knowledge, this position is the only one actively working to find the right match between dairy products and ingredients, and the market."
"We have many resources to help producers with the economics at home on the farm," explains Ken Herbranson, chairman of Midwest Dairy Association's Minnesota Division board and a dairy producer from Clitherall who served on the selection committee. "What we didn't have was a good model to help us know if we're producing the right products and dairy ingredients. We hope this new focus will help us to provide the economic analysis of these important market dynamics."
Bozic is charged with capturing synergies between the work of the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, various departments at the three universities connected to it (South Dakota State, Iowa State and the University of Minnesota), the industry and producers. He'll rely on an Economic Advisory Board to identify and prioritize issues, obtain research support and access, and evaluate results.
"I will also have the opportunity to work across disciplines," Bozic adds. "My job is to be objective, and to figure out what dairy products the Midwest can be most competitive in." He explains his role as understanding prices, markets and consumers. More specifically, he hopes to evaluate the economic value of new product development, consumer preference and willingness to pay, market penetration and markets, and feasibility of processing investments.
While he gets to know the Midwest dairy industry, Bozic is also preparing two breakout sessions for producers attending the Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud Nov. 29-30. His topics, "Don't Bet the Farm: Surviving and Thriving in Volatile Markets" and "Dairy Exports and Your Milk Check," capitalize on his knowledge of dairy marketing.
"It's clear the expectations for my work are high, but I chose this position because of the wholehearted support I felt from the industry," Bozic says. "It feels like family already."