Pa. dairy industry meeting reminds participants to forge their own future

Retail and processor panel highlights milk's role in retail, legislator panel challenges dairy industry to reach out.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Two panel discussions were featured at the joint annual partners meeting of the Center for Dairy Excellence and Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania in December.

Panels

The first panel featured a dairy town hall discussion with key agricultural leadership within the Pennsylvania General Assembly, while the second included representatives from the processing and retail industries to highlight evolving consumer expectations.

More than 100 people attended the annual meeting, which was held to showcase how the center and center foundation are helping to forge dairy’s future in Pennsylvania.

“The Town Hall approach to questions and discussion provided an excellent opportunity for meaningful exchange,” said John Frey, executive director of both the center and center foundation.

“That allowed these legislative leaders to provide their perspective on key issues affecting dairy and how we can continue to strengthen our industry.”

Raise your voice

The legislative panel encouraged the audience to make their voice heard. The Consumer Expectations Panel included Andrea Karns representing Karns Food, Craig Faragelli from WaWa, Inc., and Maria Forry with Oregon Dairy Farm. Each shared their perspective on how they have seen the dairy case evolve and what has driven the changes that have occurred.

Questions from the audience centered on new product, flavor and market opportunities, as well as consumer interest in local products and on-farm issues.

“The dairy category is one that we want to win as a retailer,” said Karns. “Milk is a destination driver. It spurs customer shopping visits and customers expenditures. Additionally, on average 47 annual trips are made by a consumer to a grocery store to purchase milk. We want to be that grocery store where that milk is purchased.”

Trends

Emerging trends identified by the panelists included farm-to-shelf, health and wellness, and flavor excitement.

“Living in Pennsylvania, there are not a lot of opportunities to continuously offer a fresh, local product,” Karns told the group. “However, dairy can capitalize on the truly awesome opportunity to tell your consumers that fifty-two weeks a year you are getting a fresh, local product.”

Karns said farm owners should be using farm fronts to tell consumers “fresh, local milk is produced here. Anything you can do to remind consumers that, whenever they are going to a local grocery store, they are getting a fresh local product is important.”

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