May 9 2023 10:00 AM

Energies are focused on Gen Z and Millennials, new partnerships and advancing science. Plus, two new Board of Directors officers were elected.

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

United Dairy Industry of Michigan’s passion and purpose was on full display as dairy farmers and industry leaders met to share highlights from 2022 state and national dairy promotion activities. This was the American Dairy Association of Michigan's 80th Annual Meeting.

“The UDIM team created and executed innovative activities on behalf of Michigan dairy farmers,” says Corby Werth, UDIM President. “2022 also marked the first year of new CEO Dwyer Williams’ tenure. As a forward-thinker, Dwyer is ensuring Michigan dairy is represented on a national level and encouraging the team and Board to think about dairy differently.”

Accomplishing that goal means forging new partnerships, strengthening relationships and looking ahead to capitalize on emerging scenarios.

“We have a great opportunity to explore, listen and intersect with the entire dairy community, so we can figure out more ways to work together and be the best partners we can be,” says Williams.

To set the stage for future programming and promotions, Williams provided the following situation and outlook for dairy:

A slowing U.S. population means dairy will need to expand prospects elsewhere. Dairy exports remain a key driver for future growth.

Changing U.S. population demographics means dairy must provide options people of color and different ethnicities want and need. Look for growth in lactose-free product development.

E-commerce offers tremendous opportunities. By 2025, one in three grocery shopping trips will happen virtually. UDIM is seeking ways to help Michigan dairy farmers participate in this trust and sales opportunity.

Dairy milk significantly outpaces plant-based beverage sales. But beware of the growth in cellular dairy products. About 40 brands exist today across every category of dairy: fluid, cheese, whey, sour cream and more. The projections for this category range between $250 billion and $550 billion by 2050.

Dairy product innovation is taking huge advantage of consumer interest in the environment by developing products, such as Super Frau, from milk components like whey proteins that might otherwise be wasted.

Dairy is also garnering serious interest from a functional food standpoint – consumers want benefit-stacked foods and beverages, examples of benefit stacking are one drink that does it all: boosts immunity, provides more protein, helps with athletic performance and so much more. Dairy has new products on the market that meet these needs like GoodSport®, the first milk-based sports drink.

Influencers and strategic partners offer increasingly important ways to reach consumers with dairy’s story about sustainability, health and wellness, foundational nutrition and more.

“We have a strong legacy with our partners, in schools and impacting communities,” says Williams. “But we need to keep pushing into the future to imagine what-ifs for dairy that we haven’t before. We are hyper-focused on building trust and sales with Gen Z and millennial moms in Michigan dairy foods, Michigan dairy farmers and the Michigan dairy community by meeting them where they are, appealing to their values, engaging in a nutrition-based dialogue and building ‘their’ healthy communities.”

Leveraging science

To reach these important consumer groups, Eve Pollet, Senior Vice President of Strategic Intelligence at Dairy Management, Inc., noted it’s essential to understand their frame of reference and realize they are different from any of the generations before.

These generations are digital natives, digitally savvy and:

Expect constant upgrades for things they use every day just as they expect technological upgrades and are more diverse than those before them.

Are always connected to the internet and social media, expect commerce to be embedded everywhere they are, and augmented reality to enhance their knowledge of the world based on their environment.

Are coming of age in the era of ESG (environmental social governance) and expect brands to prove their purpose.

Live in a time when wellness is increasingly important, and new digital tools are allowing people to get more information on their health in a day than some generations before them could get in an entire lifetime.

What does that mean for dairy and dairy promotion?

“It's no longer just about one key message for consumers, one benefit,” says Pollet. “It's more about context, how your product is modern, upgraded, and fits into their lifestyle in the moment. We have to tell contextual stories and provide contextual services that meet them where they are at.”

The dairy checkoff is leveraging science to offer new tools and research to address these changes. And offer sought-after benefits to consumers and the dairy community.

The Milk Molecules Initiative is just one example. By focusing on accelerating innovation around bioactives in milk and their health benefits, this will help create new markets for the ingredients dairy farmers already sell and verify new claims and benefits to better serve consumer needs.

“By preparing now for what comes next, we'll be ready to take advantage of a future that seems far away, but is only a couple of years away,” she adds.

Board of Directors Election

Werth also honored outgoing Board of Directors Tim Hood, Paw Paw, Michigan, and Jerry Neyer, Shepherd, Michigan, for their distinctive service and commitment to dairy promotion. Hood served on the UDIM Board for 17 years and Neyer for nine years.

During the Board of Directors meeting following the Annual Meeting, Corby Werth, Alpena, Michigan was reelected President, Scott Lamb, Jeddo, Michigan, was elected Vice President and Burke Larsen, Scottville, Michigan, was elected Treasurer.

To learn more about UDIM or dairy promotion activities, visit

About the United Dairy Industry of Michigan

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is dedicated to serving Michigan’s hard-working dairy farm families and promoting Michigan’s locally produced dairy products. UDIM is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education services on behalf of their funding members.