When COVID-19 first disrupted dairy supply chains, we all saw the grocery store signs. As dairy farmers dumped milk, the stores posted even more of them. They all read a little bit differently, but the request was the same — please limit your dairy purchases.

For an industry that was being dealt a number of blows all at once, this one hit especially hard for many dairy producers. The brutal punch brought the purchase limit signs to the top of the action list for the California Milk Advisory Board.

According to their CEO, John Talbot, the board partnered with Crossmark to develop a merchandizing program to get milk back in stores and pull down the limit signs.

“First, we focused on fixing what was broken, and the retail channel was the biggest issue,” he explained during the September 23 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream presentation sponsored by World Dairy Expo.

“We targeted the top 350 stores in California to stock shelves and remove those purchase limit signs that we all hate,” he detailed. “During the two months that we ran this program, we restocked over 160,000 units and removed more than 800 limit signs. We were very happy with the success there.”

The California Milk Advisory Board and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) simultaneously enacted a number of other programs and initiatives to improve dairy sales, enter new markets, and manage sales disruptions.

DMI CEO Tom Gallagher detailed some of those projects during the same webcast. They worked hand-in-hand with schools and organizations to get dairy products to school-aged children who were no longer in the classroom. He proudly shared that they raised $9 million from non-dairy sources to help keep school channels open.

Additionally, checkoff programs worked hard to get products into feeding systems at the local and regional level. In total, Gallagher felt that the efforts of the entire industry kept dairy losses from being much worse.

An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast “Can we sell that cheese?” will be on Wednesday, October 7. 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
October 1, 2020
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