Partnerships with major restaurant chains have helped to drive new dairy product sales in the U.S. Those same initiatives are now going past America’s borders.
Yum! Brands — think KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell — have 44,000 restaurants in 135 countries.
DMI recently facilitated innovation sessions with Pizza Hut in its Asia Pacific region and created a “Cheese University” taught by a dairy checkoff scientist to educate culinary teams on the ways to use U.S. cheese. Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., said the emphasis is already yielding results.
“U.S. cheese use at Pizza Hut’s Asia Pacific region has sales up 35 percent versus a year ago,” said Gallagher speaking to those attending the joint annual meeting of the National Milk Producers Federation, the United Dairy Industry Association, and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board at its gathering in Anaheim, Calif., on November 1.
A second pilot project is taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean with KFC. Like the project with Pizza Hut in Asia Pacific, this initiative also will look for ways to incorporate more U.S. dairy products into menu items such as cheese sauces and food pairings to complement KFC’s international products, including chicken sandwiches.
A longer U.S. track record
Partnerships with DMI and its dairy checkoff date back to 2008 when the organization forged the first joint venture with Domino’s. Since that time, the restaurant chain increased its overall cheese usage by 58 percent, an average growth rate of almost 7 percent per year.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s switched from margarine to butter and that move contributed an 8 percent gain to the restaurant chain’s dairy sales in 2016.
At Pizza Hut, its Grilled Cheese Stuff Crust Pizza has more than one pound of cheese per pizza (developed by a dairy checkoff employee) and has moved more than 25 million pounds of milk during its promotion.As for Taco Bell, DMI’s dairy checkoff efforts elevated dairy from garnish to “hero” on Taco Bell’s menu. In 2016, this Yum! company grew dairy sales by 10 percent with the Quesalupa and Cheesy Core Burrito being major contributors. Both menu items were developed by dairy checkoff scientists.