A two-day seminar was held recently at a California college titled “Coffee, Tea, and Creamers: The Science and Art of Milk in Beverages.”
Attendees included processors, suppliers, entrepreneurs, and coffee shop personnel and they heard insights from the dairy checkoff as we were among the invited subject matter experts.
This is just one example of ways our dairy products research team at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), led by Emil Nashed, serves the broader industry. Between Emil, myself, and my colleagues Dr. Rohit Kapoor, Dr. Hari Meletharayil and Chad Galer, we bring more than 120 years of collective dairy science experience to the checkoff.
While we aren’t a consumer-facing team, the work we do ultimately impacts the dairy products people enjoy.
We support companies, processors, co-ops, and others with the latest cutting-edge product research and science-based solutions. Our team keeps busy year-round serving as speakers, panelists, and moderators at major industry conferences or engaging one-on-one. We also hold board and advisory positions for leading organizations and our insights are published in industry journals.
Our impact is felt across the country and even globally and it starts with a hand-in-glove partnership we have with the checkoff-funded Dairy Foods Research Centers network, which celebrated its 35-year anniversary last year. The network was created by farmers to provide innovative, science-backed solutions related to consumer demand and business needs and trends.
The network encompasses more than 20 universities and there’s nothing like having a deep bench of “dairy doctors” constantly on call. Their efforts have supported 400-plus companies with solutions related to processing, food quality and safety, ingredients, and other areas.
Our regular interaction with this network allows the checkoff to understand and react to industry challenges and consumer opportunities to help dairy stay on top of its game. There is long highlight reel of material, including the surge in artisanal and specialty cheese growth.
Specialty cheese production once accounted for about 3% or less of national cheese production back in the 1980s. Today, the U.S. annually produces 1.8 billion pounds of artisan/specialty cheese, and it accounts for more than 13% of our cheese production. But our assistance stretches to the industry’s biggest players, including Saputo, Foremost, Hilmar, Grande, Bel Brands, Lactalis, Glanbia, Sargento, Great Lakes Cheese, and others.
Our team’s mission is very much aligned with the checkoff’s Unified Marketing Plan, which is grounded in driving sales and trust of dairy. Newer checkoff priorities are focused on showcasing dairy’s lesser-known benefits related to immunity, calm, energy, and digestive health. Sustainability also remains a hot topic with consumers, so we are engaged in work related to creating bioplastic packaging.
The checkoff-founded U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) also works with us and the network. In fact, Rohit traveled to Brazil for a large sports nutrition conference where he helped companies there better understand how sustainably produced U.S. dairy ingredients can help them innovate.
Every day is one more opportunity to build the strength and relevancy of the U.S. dairy industry, and it is happening thanks to many talented minds who have a passion for innovation.