Producer Leaders Share How Strategic Partnerships And Industry Collaboration Drive Dairy Sales

October 28, 2010 11:00 AM

Highlights from the Dairy Checkoff’s 2010 Annual Meeting

Source: Dairy Management Inc. news release
Today’s national dairy checkoff program is helping lead the industry on a “path to prosperity” through strategies that work with and through the industry to grow sales, both short and long term. 
That was the assessment of dairy producer promotion leaders who spoke to nearly 1,000 producer and other industry representatives at the 2010 National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB)/National Milk Producers Federation/United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) Joint Annual Meeting in Reno, Nev.
Strategic partnerships are key to the dairy checkoff’s success, according to Bill Siebenborn, Missouri dairy producer and chair of UDIA, the federation of 20 state and regional dairy promotion organizations that work to implement a consistent, unified marketing plan to build sales across the country.
“The checkoff’s dramatic change in course several years ago through strategic partnerships has directly led to our successes today,” Siebenborn said. “Over the past 12 months, these partnerships have resulted in more than 1 billion additional pounds of milk sold.”
The dairy checkoff has three key core criteria in determining partners:
·                     Companies whose strategies have shared vision and goals with dairy producers
·                     Companies whose actions can lead to long-term sales growth across an entire category, not just for a specific brand for a specific period of time
·                     Companies that are industry leaders – and whom other brands and companies will follow, leading to increased sales
Both McDonald’s® and Domino’s Pizza® fit these criteria, Siebenborn noted.
“As producers, we benefit from industry resources that build on our checkoff investment to grow sales. Consider that for every dollar that producers invest, our partners contribute more than six dollars,” he said.
Partnerships also work to bring together the power of national and local dairy promotion organizations to do what each does best.
Through Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff through funding from UDIA and NDB, producers can form partnerships and bring in additional resources, Siebenborn said.  “Through our state and regional dairy promotion organizations, we bring the local connections and relationships that are crucial to implementing programs,” he said.
Power of Fuel Up to Play 60
Producer partnerships work not only to promote dairy sales, but also to protect a critical venue in reaching kids.
“Schools are incredibly important to the dairy industry,” said Paula Meabon, Pennsylvania dairy producer and NDB chair. “We aim to sell more dairy in schools and also to reach 100 percent of our future customers.”
The checkoff’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program helps protect and promote dairy’s place in schools. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an unprecedented in-school program that works to combat childhood obesity through an integrated approach that focus on good nutrition – including dairy – and physical activity. The program help protect sales by building a positive image of dairy through education and information to 55 million school children, 180 days a year.
“What’s good for childhood nutrition is good for dairy,” Meabon said.  Fuel Up to Play 60 promotes dairy’s place in schools by providing the best possible dairy experience in the cafeteria and beyond, not just the school lunch line, but also at breakfast, snacking and after-school activities, she said.
“Partners are critical to our success.  We cannot do it alone,” Meabon said.
To that end, the dairy checkoff is working with high-level partners in the business, government and nutrition world to activate Fuel Up to Play 60.  
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a unique partnership between National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Meabon said.  “NFL brings ‘star power’ and their experience regarding physical activity,” she said.
Other critical supporters of Fuel Up to Play 60 are core health and nutrition organizations -- including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association and the School Nutrition Association -- as well as food and dairy companies.
Together, all of these organizations can offer incentives for students to make changes needed to create healthier schools, Meabon said.
Value of Innovation Center Aligning the Industry
Beyond these partnerships, dairy producers also are creating a “path to prosperity” by bringing the entire industry together to help dairy producers protect and grow sales.
“The future of our farms, our businesses and our industry is being shaped, in part, by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy producer and chair of DMI. “The Innovation Center allows producers an opportunity to work with – and through – the industry to grow category sales over the long term.”
Rovey and representatives from other dairy producer organizations sit on the Innovation Center board, assuring producer input.  Other industry groups are also represented on the 30-member board.  The Innovation Center convenes dairy stakeholders to work together, pre-competitively, to help grow sales by addressing challenges and opportunities that require industry-wide action.
Rovey cited the example of sustainability to explain how the industry can align itself in a way that benefits all.  “A few years ago, this challenge would have had us competing against one another, making promises and claims to the detriment of others in the dairy industry,” he said. “The Innovation Center helps us collectively make decisions that set the framework for our industry’s sustainability, including the carbon footprint initiative that helped ensure that guidelines would be positive for everyone.”
“Dairy producers will always maintain control over the priorities and activities of the Innovation Center,” Rovey said. Through the checkoff, producers provide staff resources to support Innovation Center efforts aligned with existing work underway through the checkoff’s Unified Marketing Plan.
Rovey noted that non-checkoff resources are used for work that extends beyond the checkoff. For example, nearly $3.5 million in non-checkoff resources from government and non-government sources have been raised to support the industry’s sustainability initiative.
“These funds support projects that will improve our industry’s efficiency, lower our costs, and add business value,” Rovey said.
For more information the producer-funded dairy checkoff, visit

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