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Partnerships and exports fuel dairy demand

By Susan Mykrantz
Farmshine correspondent

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Scott Higgins, CEO of the Mideast ADA and Ohio Dairy Producers Association, had plenty to share at the recent annual meeting and awards program of the Wayne County Dairy Service Unit. Aside from giving an update on what Mideast ADA is doing, he informed the assembled dairymen that one in seven loads of milk leaving the farm now goes to the export market. “The export market continues to grow," he assured, pointing out that exports account for 18 percent of the market.

Reviewing Mideast ADA programs, Higgins affirmed that partnership with the fast food industry remain strong. Four DMI employees are currently working at McDonalds headquarters to help incorporate dairy items in the chain’s menus. Milk is now the default beverage for Happy Meals. They are continuing to collaborate with new brand partners such as Taco Bell to expand dairy related items on their menu.

Recently, Taco Bell added new items to its menu, including a breakfast yogurt parfait. Dominoes and Pizza Hut are adding more cheese to their products and Quaker Oats is developing advertising to promote making their instant oatmeal products with milk. He said by developing partnerships with other people in the food industry; they are able to generate six dollars in promotional programs for every one dollar spent by dairy farmers.

The “got milk” promotion is being discontinued at the national level. The new promotion “Milk Life” is designed to promote the nutritional benefits of milk. He added that chocolate milk is the official beverage of the Ohio High School Athletic program and they are working to make sure that chocolate milk is available after practices as well as after sporting events. The new promotion theme is “Respect the Game”.

Higgins said the ADA is part of the Innovation Center for Dairy, which is made up of companies working on health and wellness, inventing new products, research and investing in the industry, globalization, food safety and sustainability in the industry. The ADA is also participating in Feeding America as part of the Great American Milk Drive, which will provide milk for families through food banks across the country.

Higgins said the Ohio Dairy Farmers series has been well received. The campaign educates consumers on how Ohio dairy producers care for their animals and produce a high quality product. Higgins also reported on the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, a member organization that provides a voice for the dairy industry on policy issues such as water quality and livestock care.