Midwest Dairy Association seeks collaboration to increase nationwide consumptionThe Midwest Dairy Association hopes collaboration with businesses and schools will boost nationwide dairy consumption.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
The Midwest Dairy Association hopes collaboration with businesses and schools will boost nationwide dairy consumption.
To get the ball rolling, Barb Luehmann, food service marketing manager of Midwest Dairy Association, said at the organization’s North Dakota district meeting Tuesday that it is bringing two new partners onboard to help promote milk in a balanced diet — Taco Bell and Quaker Oats.
“With Taco Bell, we’re not just thinking about the milk people drink, but also the cheeses, beverages and milkshakes that their customers consume,” she said. “With Quaker Oats, last year people consumed 9 million servings of oatmeal and about 15 to 20 percent of people used milk in their oatmeal, but we think with a partnership between our industry and theirs, we can increase that number.”
Luehmann said there is a healthy demand by the public for milk products like cheese, but not fluid milk.
“I think in the Midwest, you find that people use milk a little more, but these companies will work with us to increase demand for milk all over the country,” she said, adding that for every dollar a producer spends in dairy promotion, the association’s partners spend $6 promoting dairy products to consumers. “Maybe we need to rethink how milk is used in school lunches and how we sell it and make milk products.”
The meeting was attended by about a dozen local dairy producers at the Elks Club in
Gerald Stokka, associate professor and extension livestock stewardship specialist for the Department of Animal Sciences at North Dakota State University, suggested that links made between fat and dairy products, like cheese, might be chasing some consumers away.
“We need to capture people back and help them to understand that dairy products do provide them with nutritional value that is good for them,” he said.
Jerry Messer, a dairy farmer near Richardton and chairman of the Midwest Dairy Association, said partnerships will give dairy producers backup when making their case for the nutritional benefits of dairy.
“We want to try and forge partnerships with companies and people, so when we have to defend dairy guidelines we will have others to help us do that,” he said. “I think we need more partnerships, and our work with Quaker Oats is only the tip of the iceberg. If we can get students eating their breakfast at school with milk, then they will do the same when they go home. It’s exciting to think about.”