Last week we reported the recent jump in sales for pizza giant Domino's after launching its new recipe for pizza which coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) included 50 percent more cheese. Jim Montel, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Dairy Management, Inc., said that a strong working relationship with Domino's was an important part of this recent recipe revamp. Domino's isn't the only one that DMI works closely with though.

McDonald's, the world's largest quick-serve food retailer has a long-standing relationship with checkoff programs. It is paying off, too. Have you noticed what McDonald's has been promoting lately? Besides the cheesy Angus burger launched last year, the new McCafe coffees contain plenty of milk. Montel affectionately referred to them as "coffee flavored milk" as they contain up to 80 percent milk. "Much of what McDonald's is promoting right now is dairy focused," said Montel. Besides the Angus cheeseburgers and McCafe, McDonald's is launching frappes and smoothies this summer in all 14,000 locations, in addition to creating improved shakes that will be served in clear plastic containers with whipped cream. Montel also pointed to the considerable dairy-focused advertising done by McDonald's during the Winter Olympics as a sign that they are committed to promoting these dairy-heavy foods.

Partnerships like these are certainly proving to be efficient uses of our checkoff dollars. That's the goal of the relationships says Montel who remarks that they remain focused on long-term growth of dairy product use. As a result, competitors are launching similar products to go head-to-head with McDonald's, for example. Wendy's large Bacon Blue burger that is covered with blue cheese crumbles launched after the Angus burgers certainly may fit into that category.