The Fiesers milk 600 cows and graze and hay 500 acres in east-central Florida.
Producing milk for a fluid milk market is becoming increasingly challenging as fluid sales continue to drop. Much discussion continues to take place on how to fix it, and I am confident we are at a point where positive changes will happen.
New innovative products are a positive sign, but ultimately I believe we must return to our roots of providing a fresh, pure, wholesome and complete nutrient package that the consumer can identify with.
Unfortunately for the dairy industry, for too many years, the American consumer was told that fat was bad. This resulted in low-fat products being marketed that many dairymen like myself, as well as many consumers, thought were disgusting.
We futilely spent money through the check-off to promote this inferior product because all the “experts” pointed to fat as the root of many of our nutritional problems such as obesity. Many milk consumers soon moved away from a bland product and found other alternatives.
Fortunately, the science is increasingly showing that fat isn’t the problem and in fact may be good for you. I believe it is time for promotional programs to return to promoting full-fat dairy that provide satiety when consumed. It is encouraging to see the national branding that Dean Foods is implementing, as well as the specialty products like fairlife® that Coke is now marketing.
Ultimately though, for fluid to regain its prominence, we must get the fat back in milk. After all, whole milk is still 97% fat-free. This too will increase the economic returns to dairymen as the value of full fat milk is greater than skim. I look forward to the day when a glass of fresh, locally, and sustainably produced milk will yield a much greater premium price when compared to the value of the individual components of that milk.
It is also time to dispel the notion that “organic” milk is better. The carbon footprint of organic is usually much higher, and there really is no difference in the milk. We need to educate the consumer to choose safe, conventionally produced milk with the smaller carbon footprint.
While promoting fluid milk is obviously important to the Southeast, we have always been supportive of investing in the promotion of all dairy products, both domestic and export. We know that the success of marketing these products produced outside the South ultimately determines our prices.