Similar to when a natural disaster hits, the onslaught of COVID-19 onto dairy sales this spring required immediate efforts to stem the bleeding. Only once the situation became more under control could we step back to gauge the larger picture of what long-term effects could come out of the events.

As panic buying slowed and the country settled into a more regular stay-at-home routine, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) was able to look at what new needs and desires consumers had, detailed CEO John Talbot on the September 23 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream sponsored by World Dairy Expo.

Talbot identified two main areas that saw resurgences during the pandemic and offer opportunities for dairy: snacks and breakfast.

The snack category continued tremendous growth during the pandemic. Data from Dairy Management Inc. shows that morning snacking is now prevalent in 75% of adults, Talbot said. “Afternoon snacking has gone from 65% of adults to 91%,” he continued. “This is an area that seems just ripe for innovation.”

CMAB is working to harness the power of snacking innovation in this year’s installment of their accelerator program, which connects start-up entrepreneurs with processors and investors to help launch their products. “Last year’s focus was on fluid milk, but this year we decided to change the theme to snacking because of what we were seeing in COVID-19. We’re calling this year’s effort the Snackcelerator,” Talbot shared.

“We’ve been absolutely amazed. We received 76 entries, so now we’re trying to figure out how to make this an even bigger event than what we originally planned,” he said. “We’re doing this kind of March Madness meets Shark Tank, and we’re going to borrow from each. In March Madness, you know about the Sweet Sixteen; in our program, we’re going to have the Sweet and Savory Sixteen. We’re going to take the top eight sweet snack entries and put them head-to-head with the top eight savory snack entries and see who comes out on top.”

“We’re very excited to see how this kind of event might wrap in with a national innovation program,” Talbot added.

Additionally, more people have had more time for breakfast during the pandemic. “The re-emergence of the family breakfast has been a wonderful thing,” Talbot stated. “Time spent at breakfast equals more time spent with dairy.”

The checkoff organization in the country’s top dairy-producing state has used that perspective to launch a new campaign. “The Day Can Wait” encourages consumers to take even a small amount of time to eat breakfast, and to do it with their family. Talbot explained, “This campaign will combine advertising, social media, and influencer programs. It is just getting kicked off right now.”

An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast on Wednesday, October 7 at 11 a.m. CST will focus on “Can we sell that cheese?” Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
September 28, 2020
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