ORLANDO, Fla. — Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, delivered strong results and reasons for optimism to dairy farmers who are in the midst of a difficult economic year.
Gallagher spoke to more than 800 dairy farmers and industry representatives attending the 2015 joint annual meeting of the United Dairy Industry Association, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and National Milk Producers Federation in Orlando, Fla.
Among Gallagher’s highlights are:
Domestic cheese growth
Gallagher said 4 billion pounds of domestic cheese sales occurred from January of 2014 to July of 2015 and much of that resulted from the checkoff’s work with partners such as Domino’s Pizza.
Gallagher said NDC-led research has made milkfat more acceptable in the eyes of consumers and health professionals and this could have positive ramifications on full-fat dairy products at schools. He referenced the recent decision by McDonald’s to replace liquid margarine with butter in more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants as a catalyst that will have others following suit. The McDonald’s decision is expected to move as much as 600 million pounds of fluid milk equivalent in a year.
Fluid milk partnerships
The checkoff is leading a fluid milk revitalization project with eight partners that is showing progress. More than $500 million has been invested by partners in plant revitalization efforts and another $250 million has been directed toward marketing programs.
One of the meeting’s highlights came when Gallagher called a team of checkoff staff dairy scientists to the stage to introduce themselves. Each scientist works at the headquarters of checkoff partners including Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Quaker.
Gallagher asked each employee to reference a menu item or product advancement they are responsible for creating. Gallagher said he did this to “put a face” on the people working behind the scenes to grow dairy demand.
Gallagher closed the meeting with another reason for optimism: Dairy farmers’ voice with consumers, and the importance of the farmers’ collective voice to continue building consumer confidence in dairy.
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