Introduced more than 40 years ago, the REAL Seal has become one of the most widely recognized label identification programs in the food industry. In its first decade, dairy promotion organizations invested significantly in education and marketing to alert consumers about real dairy products. This took place at a time when imitation dairy foods began appearing in the market. Since the National Milk Producers Federation took ownership of the REAL Seal in 2012, awareness for the brand across social media has increased significantly thanks to the NMPF’s strategy for developing a targeted social media presence for the iconic dairy label.

The REAL Seal program is entirely self-funded by users, who pay a modest fee that is plowed into marketing efforts to remind consumers of the virtues of real dairy foods. This is all occurring at a time when imitators continue to encroach in the supermarket dairy case. Only dairy foods made in America with American-produced cows’ milk are eligible to display the REAL Seal.

Three main areas of focus
Today, a stream of content illustrating the value of the REAL Seal can be found on Facebook and Pinterest, two social channels that cater heavily to families in their prime dairy-buying years. REAL Seal content focuses on several areas.

First, it educates consumers about the benefits of real dairy by drawing comparisons to the dubious aspects of fake dairy foods. For example, our “REAL Dairy Challenge” series last year encouraged fans to incorporate more dairy into their diets. The successful effort generated nearly 100,000 impressions and more than 7,500 engagements.

Second, it inspires consumers to use dairy products in a variety of recipes, connecting the act of choosing real dairy with the ultimate act of eating it.

And lastly, it highlights the program’s sponsors by creating content through our “Keeping it REAL” brand spotlight program. Brands that have been spotlighted receive access to thousands of consumers who have an interest in real dairy products.

To help consumers find real dairy foods in an increasingly confusing retail marketplace, the program unveiled a completely redesigned website in 2019 for the REAL Seal,, complete with a buyer’s guide that helps steer shoppers to those brands that feature the mark. The website, which launched in November 2019, has been live for more than a year. In 2020, the website attracted more than 60,000 page views and 36,000 users.

Any marketer will tell you that when it comes to food, most consumers seek out products with authenticity, quality, and transparency. As it has for more than 40 years, the REAL Seal is a broad-based commitment from dairy producers to aid people in determining what’s real in the dairy case when they go shopping.

It’s not the same program as it was in the 1980s, but thanks to the ability to use social media to target interested buyers — Facebook is now the leading advertising platform in the world — the NMPF-administered REAL Seal can still deliver positive messages about dairy to our patrons.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
February 25, 2021
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