An array of leading dairy marketing executives convened by the dairy checkoff showed unity in reporting impressive checkoff-led dairy sales results to nearly 1,000 producer and industry representatives at the 2011 National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB)/National Milk Producers Federation/United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) Joint Annual Meeting in San Diego.
The dairy checkoff is driving more dairy sales than ever by working through the power of partnerships, said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc., speaking at the joint annual meeting of United Dairy Industry Association and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board in San Diego.
Joining Gallagher onstage were some of the checkoff leading dairy marketing partners, including: Larry Jensen, President of Leprino Foods, and chairman of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy; Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O Lakes, Inc., and chair of the Innovation Center's Consumer Confidence Committee; Kevin Burke, Senior Vice President of Global Business Development for Leprino; John Jeter, President and CEO of Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc.; and Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona cooperative. These executives shared how working through the dairy checkoff and its Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy helps drive dairy sales and protect dairy's image on behalf of the entire industry. George Martin, president and executive director of the NFL Alumni, also joined Gallagher onstage to discuss a new partnership with National Dairy Council related to increased nutrition and physical activity in our nation's schools.
The dairy marketers' message that of dairy producer promotion leaders, who reported that the dairy checkoff has directly contributed to more than 7 billion additional pounds of milk sales since January 2010.
Dairy Checkoff's New Role
The checkoff's role has changed greatly over the past five years, Gallagher said. It no longer funds generic advertising or retail promotions. Rather, it works to directly drive sales through partnerships, he stressed.
"The checkoff is the voice of the farmer once your milk leaves the farm," Gallagher said. "The only way to do that successfully is by working with co-ops, processors and manufacturers -- those who actually turn your milk into products that people may or may not want. We help make it so those products are the ones people want to buy."
To that end, the checkoff has been able to corral roughly $800 million in outside resources to advance producer goals in selling more dairy. The result, Gallagher said, has been an increase of 4.2 billion pounds of dairy sold through the first seven months of 2011 (compared to the same period a year earlier). This includes more dairy sales through quick-serve restaurant chains such as McDonald's and the pizza category, as well as increased dairy export sales.
Gallagher cited other key successes in using other people's money to help advance dairy producer priorities.
One outstanding example has been the substantial support for the industry-wide dairy nutrition and product research plan formed by the Dairy Research Institute, newly created by the dairy checkoff. The 2011 plan has amassed $60 million, of which $45 million are from non-checkoff sources, to fund important research areas, including bone health and sodium-reduced cheese.
School Program Partnerships
Nutrition remains an important cornerstone of the checkoff's work, Gallagher said. "What's good for school children and all Americans is good for dairy sales. After all, if all Americans ate according to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines, which recommends three servings of dairy a day, we would need to double our milk production."
The checkoff is involved in schools, he said, "because 55 million kids a day go to school, and nearly 30 million go through the lunch line, where there are dairy products."
A key strategy is a six-party partnership involving National Dairy Council (NDC), the checkoff-formed GenYOUTH Foundation and the National Football League (NFL), along with three arms of the federal government: the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The partnership is meant to encourage better nutrition and increased physical activity.
NDC's Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which Gallagher described as a "noble cause" to help fight childhood obesity, is now in more than 70,000 schools, and is accessible to 36 million children.
In addition, Gallagher and George Martin,president and executive director of the National Football Alumni, announced a new partnership between NDC and Martin's association. "This partnership allows NDC to draw from a pool of professional athletes who are trained in communicating messages of good nutrition and physical activity to school children, and who are ready to go to work in our nation's schools," Martin said.
For more information, visit www.dairycheckoff.com.