Milk Matters: Showcasing tasty trends
By Jennifer Giambroni
Summer is showtime for dairy. The return of summer vacations, celebrations of brides, dads and grads and the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) and Summer Fancy Food shows, dairy will be front and center all season long as consumers, retailers and anyone associated with the food business puts the spotlight on this diverse category.
We also enjoy summer because it brings Dairy Month, Ice Cream Month and Back to School – celebrations of all things dairy and the farmers who bring this essential food to the table. And essential it is. Dairy is part of every day for consumers, from the milk on their cereal to the cheese topping their takeout pizza and it is an essential and profitable retail category.
Opportunity to build demand
The IDDBA and Fancy Food shows give the CMAB an opportunity to build demand for California dairy by showcasing to retail and foodservice buyers how milk and dairy products fit the food trends consumers are talking about, sharing and looking to participate in. Food is a contact sport and consumers are getting involved more than ever before. Our love affair with channels like Food Network and Cooking Channel has given birth to a curious, creative and adventurous home cook who’s looking to try new things while at the same time keeping the family budget in mind.
Dairy continues to top trend lists because it offers a unique combination of attributes – value, nutritional delivery, diversity and performance.
What does that mean? It’s hard to beat the value of dairy and what it delivers in one cup of milk, ounce of cheese or carton of yogurt. That value is more than just monetary – where else can you fit so much taste and nutrition into one sip or bite? Variety-wise, dairy comes in countless forms, flavors and even fat levels making it a fit for every lifestyle. On the retail end, that diversity means the same specialty cheese that gave a kick to the deli sandwich of the month can also be featured in a bulk salad or even take-home pizza. And does dairy perform? Just ask any chef or home cook – dairy is a dream ingredient to work with.
From ethnic foods to farm-to-table to shared meal experiences, dairy fits them all.
A recent CMAB survey indicates that the ethnic food consumers most often make at home is Mexican. The Hispanic dairy category alone with its affordable cheeses, table creams and drinkable yogurts, offers an extraordinary opportunity for retailers to tap into that passion for Latin flavors by merchandising those products beyond the “Mexican Food” section.
Consumers still interested
Farm-to-table means consumers are still interested in where their food comes from. Our Real California Milk and Cheese seals are an indication that products are made with 100 percent California milk. We use our Web site - RealCaliforniaMilk.com - to tell the stories behind California’s farm families and tap into social media to help deliver those messages directly to consumers. Retailers and foodservice operators can leverage those tools to populate their own social assets and help their customers be better informed.
Food, a social experience
Food has always been a social experience – from the first meals shared over fire to the family dinner table. Today’s social media tools are making it easier to share than ever before. Yesterday’s coffee klatch recipe exchange has been replaced by today’s Pinterest page. Consumers want to learn and to share their own knowledge, it’s important for retailers and foodservice operators to be there too.
So all summer we’ll be working hard to show how California dairy delivers consumers variety (in both products and applications); giving ideas to retailers about how to merchandise this diverse product to grow business and consumers how to use these products at home; and building the relationships to share our dairy products with consumers everywhere.
■ Jennifer Giambroni is the director of communications for the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), one of the largest commodity boards in the United States. The CMAB executes advertising, public relations, research and retail and foodservice promotional programs on behalf of California dairy products, including Real California Milk and Real California Cheese. Contact her via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 650-871-6455; or visit RealCalifornia Milk.com.