Dollars and Sense: Focus on Consumer Wants

Dollars and Sense: Focus on Consumer Wants


Katrina Curti Rainey
Tulare, Calif.

The Raineys milk 550 Jerseys at Rainimade Dairy. Katrina helps her dad at his 2,800-cows at nearby Curtimade Dairy.


The key to the dairy industry is listening to the consumer, taking advantage of the export market and continuing to educate the general public.

As a working dairy mom, I pay attention to what all the other moms are purchasing at the grocery store. Every mom always has the basics: bread, eggs and milk. Fluid milk consumption has been slowly decreasing over the years, but milk is always an essential for every mom at the grocery store.

Even though fluid milk consumption per capita is not heading in the direction we want, statistics show the world population is going to double by the year 2050. This means there’s still a growing demand for more milk.

With the concern of falling fluid milk consumption, we should continue to focus on what the consumer wants. We’ve done a really good job with this in the yogurt department. Greek yogurt has taken off in the last couple of years, along with my favorite Go-GURTs® (which are individual sized tubes of yogurt) and perfect size for the kiddos.

I also like the fact that you can order a Go-GURT in a Happy Meal® or have the option of chocolate milk. These are perfect ways to get our products to consumers. I would love to see someone strike a deal with one of the major airlines to offer complimentary, personal-size cheese snacks!

Another opportunity I see for the dairy industry to increase demand is the export area. We only export about 16% of our total dairy products made in the U.S. This is a very low number, which seems like a great area to explore, especially with the growing interest of dairy products in Asia alone.

The volatility of the export market is a concern too. This year’s export market is down compared to the previous year. Strong exports help dictate a strong price for the producer.

My third point is something I’m very passionate about: Educating the general public about what we do as agriculturists--being an open book, having transparency and sharing with people (who know nothing about ag) about our livelihood.

We all take pride in what we do and how we do it, so share it with the world any way you can. Whether it’s giving tours to an international group or a local group of school kids, having a discussion with a stranger on an airplane or chatting with a mom in the local grocery store--these are invaluable.

Also, be your own marketer for dairy. Every chance I get, I take cheese snacks for the school field trip, donate butter for the local fundraiser or take chocolate milks for the kids after their t-ball game. We are less than 2% of the population, so every little conversation helps.

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