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Sustainability, Innovation, Reputation and Exports Drive Dairy Checkoff 2023 Milestones

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program, recently announced significant outcomes in 2023 on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and importers.

“This past year, we built on our collective successes while defining the next chapter of the checkoff’s history,” said Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of Dairy Management Inc. and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a voluntary organization that works across the dairy value chain to foster collaboration and progress to advance U.S. dairy’s interest. “ASPIRE is the acronym for our strategic areas of focus (Sustainability, People, Innovation, Reputation, Exports) and staffs at local, national and international levels have worked together to deliver meaningful results and ensure funders see a whole new level of transparency and accountability for their investment.”

Highlights include:

Sustainability:

  • Research and technology advancements: The checkoff actively engaged in research and piloted technologies, implementing best management practices to offer economically viable sustainability solutions for farmers.
  • Feed in Focus program: A key achievement is the new Feed in Focus program, which involved 31 farms, covered more than 9,000 acres and 20,000 cows, and disbursed nearly $500,000 in farmer incentives.
  • Net Zero Initiative and Environmental Goals: More than $10 million in new commitments from external partners and organizations were secured for the Net Zero Initiative programs targeting 2050 environmental goals, including $7.2 million in Greener Cattle Initiative grants.
  • Innovation Center’s Full Value-Chain Momentum: The Innovation Center bolstered engagement and collaboration with 39 companies representing 75 percent of the milk supply joining the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, and a significant increase in participation at various sustainability convening meetings.

Innovation:

  • Domestic Foodservice Growth: More than 200 million milk equivalent pounds of growth were achieved through partnerships with major foodservice brands like McDonald’s McFlurries and the new Grimace shake, Domino’s Loaded Tots and Stuffed Cheesy Bread, and Taco Bell’s Grilled Cheese Burrito, now a permanent menu item, and the rollout of frozen beverages.
  • Growth Landscapes Activation: The checkoff activated three major growth landscapes in health and wellness, foodservice, and beverage, inspiring innovation across the industry.
  • Science and Research Modernization: Collaborations with Mayo Clinic, University of California-Davis, and Cornell have led to significant advancements in dairy research.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy:

Advanced U.S. dairy’s collective engagement and progress within the pre-competitive social responsibility areas important to consumers and customers, including: 

  • Increased U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment adopters to 39 companies representing 75 percent of the milk supply.
  • Increased membership within the Dairy Sustainability Alliance to 200 member companies and organizations.
  • Achieved strong attendance and engagement at key industry and broader agricultural meetings including the Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall meeting (335 attendees) and the Sustainable Ag Summit (record attendance of 925 people).

Reputation:

  • “See Dairy Differently” Campaign: This Undeniably Dairy partnership with Washington Post, USA Today and Wired challenges consumer and thought leader misconceptions about dairy production and has garnered over 180 million impressions.
  • Increased Web Traffic: Strategic content planning has drawn more than 4.3 million views from 3.1 million users to USDairy.com.
  • High-Profile Media Engagements: Leveraging dairy nutrition and environmental science, stories about farmers and sustainable production, popular trends and recipes, the checkoff secured media placements in major and local outlets reaching nearly 2.7 billion readers. 
  • Health Authority Partnerships: Collaborations with Mayo Clinic and National Medical Association enhanced the reputation of dairy in health and science circles.

Exports/International:

  • Export Growth: Despite challenges, there has been a significant increase in exports, particularly through a partnership with Yum China to grow US cheese use, delivering 10.84 million cheese pounds so far
  • Permanent Menu Innovation Focus: We began to shift focus from mainly short-term promotional support to include permanent menu innovation and new products, including Domino’s Pan Pizza launching in Saudi Arabia and UAE, which utilizes 20 percent more U.S. cheese, and AMPI’s Dinner Bell Creamery premium processed cheese expanding across specialty burger chain menus in China.

“I’m so proud to see the checkoff continue to prioritize outreach and engagement with farmers, ensuring that our voices are heard and reflected in all initiatives,” said Virginia dairy farmer and National Dairy Promotion and Research Board Chair Joanna Shipp. “Our revitalized Annual Meeting and farmer-led board meetings are a testament to this commitment, offering opportunities for farmer interaction and feedback that is reflected in checkoff’s local and national plans.”

O’Brien added, “We had an amazing year of momentum and progress. The checkoff organization committed to building a culture of innovation and excellence, driven by a strong purpose to support farmers and deliver high-quality work. The focus for 2024 remains on delivering short-term demand and sales at the same time we’re building the pipeline for future growth through science and innovation.  And we’ll continue to engage farmers from across the country—securing their input, listening to feedback, sharing the work and results in a way we know resonates.”  

For more information about the dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com/for-farmers. 

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