Dollars and Sense: Trust and Innovation: Keys to Dairy Success

Dollars and Sense: Trust and Innovation: Keys to Dairy Success


Shelly Dickinson
Loveland, Colo.

Mountain View Farm is a fourth-generation dairy farm, milking 2,500 cows with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains.

Dairy farmers across the region and the country make a great, healthy and versatile product. We’d like to think the product should sell itself. However, with the evolving expectations of consumers, it’s not enough to have a great product. In 2015, two keys to increasing demand for fluid milk sales and for dairy products are consumer trust and innovation.

For the first time, people trust the information they find in a search engine more than the information they find in a newspaper. They think the information that comes from friends and family is more reliable than the information that comes from business. Dairy farmers have to take this to heart. We can lead the entire food industry on trust if we take a few simple steps.

First, we have to be everywhere the consumer is and prove we are transparent. We have always provided farm tours, and now we have to talk about those tours online. We should post information about the tours on Facebook and pictures of our farms on Instagram.  We should share positive feedback on Twitter. Social media is the best way to showcase our quality lifestyle and products. It’s free advertising.

Being everywhere our consumers are also means having an even greater presence in our schools--and working with them to make sure the milk there is cold and fresh. It breaks my heart to learn my own children would rather drink water at school because it tastes better than a carton of warm, skim milk. Kids want cool packaging and great taste (innovation), and parents want their kids to drink a healthy product. Sounds like an easy fix, yes?

Dairy farmers also have to be more engaged overseas. As foreign economies improve and more people reach the middle class, families want high-quality dairy products to improve their own health. They don’t trust their local suppliers, and they’re looking to us to meet their needs. This means more innovation from the dairy industry is critical.

Investing in exports creates new opportunities and gains new consumers. It helps support our prices here as we provide a great product for the rest of the world.

Finally, we can’t stop innovating. Cheese and yogurt are the recent shining stars in the dairy world, but we can't forget about fluid milk.

We must keep making products that add convenience and great taste to consumers’ lives. Our customers are giving us great ideas, telling us what they want every day in person and online. If we engage with our customers, prove that we are transparent, and give consumers the right information where and when they want it, we will earn trust and preserve demand for years to come.

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