The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) expanded its focus on the yogurt and cultured products category this month by assuming the assets and operations of the National Yogurt Association (NYA) and creating a new segment board with a strategic focus on the category. IDFA now represents the vast majority of companies making and selling yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and other cultured products. These steps will increase IDFA’s effectiveness on Capitol Hill and within regulatory agencies when it addresses issues important to the yogurt and cultured products industry.
In December, the NYA board of directors voted to dissolve and transition its assets over to IDFA, including the Live and Active Cultures (LAC) Seal Program. This move aligned with IDFA’s recent change to a more streamlined and efficient governance structure. On Jan. 1, IDFA introduced a new Executive Council and created five Industry Segment Boards, including one dedicated to yogurt and cultured products.
“The NYA board members recognized that pursuing priorities as one advocacy organization would strengthen our voice in Washington, especially with our new strategic focus on yogurt and cultured products,” said Michael Dykes, IDFA president and CEO. “IDFA’s new governance structure and our Yogurt and Cultured Products Industry Segment Board will enhance our legislative, regulatory and communications efforts to promote the value of these products to consumers and policymakers alike.”
Dykes added, “IDFA has been a vocal advocate for increasing innovation in our industry, and we strongly support updating regulations that will provide a path for continued growth.”
Federal standards of identity for yogurt, for example, currently don’t reflect or accommodate new processing methods and new food ingredients. The outdated standards hinder innovation, impede the production of healthier products and thwart efforts to meet changing consumer preferences. IDFA has consistently called for updates to the standards to allow new technologies and ingredients and pave the way for fresh products and packaging options.
The Food and Drug Administration expressed interest in modernizing the yogurt standards as a part of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy announced last April, and IDFA and its new segment board members will continue to urge the agency to make the effort a top priority.
Live and Active Cultures (LAC) Seal Program
IDFA now leads the Live and Active Cultures (LAC) Seal Program for the industry. The LAC Seal is a registered certification mark that helps consumers identify yogurt products that contain significant amounts of live and active cultures, which are beneficial to a healthy diet. It is a voluntary identification available to manufacturers of refrigerated and frozen yogurt that meet the seal’s strict specifications, as verified by independent laboratories.
“Working on standards of identity, pursuing opportunities for innovation and providing more information to consumers through the LAC Seal Program are just a few of the many priorities we’re going to tackle in the year ahead,” said Dykes. “Building on our new structural foundation, we plan to continue our expansion efforts to reach and represent all dairy categories and companies.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports nearly 3 million jobs that generate more than $161 billion in wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. IDFA members range from multinational organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent approximately 90 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. The diverse membership includes numerous food retailers, suppliers, cooperatives and companies that offer a wide variety of nutritional dairy products and dairy-derived ingredients. Visit IDFA at www.idfa.org.