Your Dairy Checkoff At Work: New opportunities
By Tom Gallagher
New opportunities connect dairy producers and consumers
Dairy producers have a long-standing ccommitment to our nation’s health and wellness. Since the creation of the National Dairy Council® in 1915, we’ve been telling the story of our wholesome and nutritious products through national and local dairy checkoff organizations. As a result, dairy’s contribution to a healthy diet is strongly known and supported by consumers, health professionals, scientists, and others.
But, today’s consumers are different from those of 50, 25 and even 10 years ago. They want to learn more about the products they buy and how they are produced. Consumers feel responsible for doing things that help protect the environment. They feel more loyal to companies whose real or perceived values mirror their own. Research shows that consumers believe corporate reputation is just as important as product brands.
Healthier planet, communities
As a result, the dairy industry has an opportunity to expand upon our story about dairy’s contribution to healthy people. We now can include our commitment to a healthier planet and healthier communities with examples about how industry innovation is producing healthy, affordable products to feed a growing population in a sustainable way.
Consumers want to hear this story and want to feel confident in dairy. That’s why the dairy checkoff is working hard to share dairy producers’ values with consumers and thought leaders. National and local dairy checkoff organizations are helping to provide balance, address misinformation and engage in conversations that can create positive perceptions of dairy and dairy farming among consumers and other critical audiences.
We are leading an industry-wide effort through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® to give dairy co-ops, processors, manufacturers, and others the resources to engage in conversations about dairy through traditional and social media.
Dairy Month as starting point
Using June Dairy Month as a starting point, we helped position dairy’s important role in a safe, affordable and abundant food supply. Our message focuses on:
• Healthy People – Dairy products play a healthy, nutritious and great-tasting role in people’s diets throughout their lifetime.
• Healthy Communities – Dairy farmers help communities lead healthier lives by producing nutritious dairy products and providing real economic value.
• Healthy Planet – Dairy farm families, along with others in the dairy industry, are committed to environmental stewardship and reducing our environmental impact.
“The Future of Food...”
As part of this effort, the dairy checkoff partnered with The Washington Post and Slate (a digital national thought-leader magazine) for a Washington, D.C.-based event in June titled “The Future of Food: Food Security in the 21st Century.” The event was co-sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and provided the industry an opportunity to help lead a national discussion around the future of food. It also helped position dairy’s “license to lead” in government, academic, public health, and social circles.
We also are working closely with local dairy checkoff organizations to host four regional events over the next few months that will further promote dairy’s contributions to a healthy planet, healthy people and healthy communities.
To be sure, communicating dairy’s benefits and values, especially those related to health and nutrition, have been a priority for the checkoff from the beginning. That said, we now are ramping up efforts nationally and locally to proactively engage in conversations to protect and grow consumer confidence in dairy.
This includes tapping into dozens of dairy organizations across the value chain – cooperatives, processors, industry associations, agribusinesses, and other industry stakeholders. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, created by dairy producers, and its board of industry leaders are actively using checkoff-developed communication resources to supplement their June Dairy Month and other image-related efforts to make sure the industry is speaking with a unified voice.
Become part of our voice
I encourage you to become part of our powerful voice to help communicate dairy’s good story to consumers, thought leaders and others. Together, we will showcase dairy’s commitment to healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy planet, as we build a healthier future for our dairy industry.
For more information, contact your state or regional dairy promotion organization or visit www.dairycheckoff.com.
■ Tom Gallagher is chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the domestic and international planning and management organization that works to increase sales of and demand for U.S.-produced dairy products and ingredients on behalf of America’s dairy producers. For more information on dairy checkoff programs, visit www.dairycheckoff.com.