The Dairy Checkoff says that despite challenges brought on by COVID-19, it continued to help its foodservice partners to grow sales of U.S. dairy foods in 2021.
Dairy Management, Inc. is the organization that oversees the checkoff. DMI CEO Barbara O’Brien says more domestic dairy got shipped into the international marketplace in 2021.
“The environment is complex,” O’Brien said. “We are increasingly reliant on the global marketplace for new volume, so we need to bring new solutions and make hard choices within the programs to make sure we are efficiently and effectively investing the farmers’ dollars. So, you’re going to see that in the coming months.”
O’Brien says the checkoff continued its effort to connect with Gen Z consumers, while the dairy industry’s sustainability journey reached new levels during a busy year. Generation Z is comprised of the age group of 10 to 23 years old. O’Brien says this is a tech-savy, social network-based age bracket who no longer uses traditional media to get an industry’s message.
“They have massive spending power, an estimated 100-billion dollars, and they have mostly grown up online,” said O’Brien. “We are actively testing new programs, new partners, new vehicles, and new messages, to ensure that dairy is staying relevant and that our content is resonant.”
One Dairy Checkoff program that taps into Gen Z’s love of gaming is called “Beat the Lag.” It captures the attention of gamers and shows how dairy products can meet their wellness needs. Dairy Management, Inc. is partnering with viral gaming influencers like Jordan Maron who streams on YouTube and Twitch. Maron says he helps share the message that dairy foods can provide an energy boost and a tasty pick-me-up during long stretches online.
“The goal is to inform the Gen Z audience that dairy is protein packed and can help fuel you up whether you’re going to be gaming or you’re going to be doing homework, work, whatever it is in your day-to-day life,” said Maron.
O’Brien says the dairy checkoff delivered on its mission to drive sales and trust in 2021. She points out the continued success of the checkoff’s partnership with globally-recognized companies like Domino’s, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s. Overall dairy sales at those chains grew between three and six percent this year.