Maintaining Consumer Trust

May 29, 2014 08:05 PM
 

Julie Maurer

Julie Maurer
Newton, Wis.

Family-owned and -operated Soaring Eagle Dairy milks 1,100 cows and grows the majority of the herd’s feed on 1,800 acres.

 


Making sure dairy demand remains strong is something that everyone from producers to processors needs to be concerned with. We seem to be in an extended period of insatiable demand. We cannot take this for granted and need to continue to foster the relationships with our consumers.

Market research tells us that consumers trust dairy farmers. But we need to remember that trust is hard to earn and very easy to lose. Making sure we stay out of the headlines and connect with consumers is critical.

Every opportunity to share our story and provide tours to those who ask is important. It is not news to us that the face of agriculture has changed. To those not familiar with agriculture, there is sometimes a fear of the unknown. This is our story to tell, and we need to share how these changes have improved efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

For food processors, continued innovation is necessary to maintain and hopefully increase the space allotted to dairy in the supermarket. I’m always impressed when I hear of the innovative ways that our co-op is gaining market with new, value added products.

Just 10 years ago, we didn’t have cappuccinos and other specialty coffee drinks, which contain a great deal of milk, or the Greek yogurt markets we have today. Without these and other value-added markets, how would we move the increased volumes of milk being produced? I’m excited to see what the next craze will be, and we need our co-ops and processors to continue to create new ways to include milk and cheese in new offerings.

Finally, investing in our export markets ensures that excess product is moved at a fair price rather than stored in caves as in the past. The preferences of other countries are different than those of the U.S. consumer, and so we must make sure our plants can produce products to these specs.

We’ve been hearing about China’s booming economy and demand for protein for a long time. It seems that time is finally here, and losing this market would be disastrous for U.S. dairy farmers.

Maurer’s recent prices

Milk
$25.42 (3.59 bf, 3.01 prt)

Cull cows
$94-$104/cwt.

Springing heifers
$2,000/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)
$240/ton

Cottonseed
$485/ton

Ground corn
$192/ton

Soybean meal
$530/ton
 

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