Bonus 01 – What Did Dairy Showcase At Expo West 2024?

Where do global food companies find the next big innovative consumer food product? They attend the Natural Products EXPO WEST conference, where over 65,000 attendees check out over 3,000 food vendors’ innovations.

Listen as Marla Buerk, Executive Vice President of Global Innovation and Insights for Dairy Management Inc., and Norrie Wilson, DMI Global Innovation And Insights Consultant, discuss how the national dairy checkoff engaged with Expo West attendees by sharing new dairy product innovation samples and presented a new study on consumer health perceptions.

Tune in to find out!

To learn more about the national dairy checkoff and your local dairy checkoffs, please visit www.usdairy.com.

Host & Guest:

  • Host: Scott Wallin, Vice President of Farmer Communications, Dairy Management Inc.
  • Guest: Marla Buerk, Executive Vice President of Global Innovation and Insights, Dairy Management Inc.
  • Guest: Norrie Wilson, DMI Global Innovation And Insights Consultant, Dairy Management Inc.

Transcript: (Machine-generated please ignore typos)

Scott Wallin  0:00 

Everyone, I’m Scott long with dairy management corporate. I’m so happy to bring you another discussion and more insights from our checkoff leadership. This conversation is an extension of the your Dairy Checkoff podcast and is designed to provide a concise look at Dairy promotion efforts and strategies that are driving sales and trust of dairy. Today I am joined by Marla Burke, who was Executive Vice President of innovation for DMI and nori. Wilson provides innovation insights for DMI as well. Marlon Roy, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you.

Norrie Wilson  0:29 

Thanks for having us.

Scott Wallin  0:31 

You know, the three of us have talked quite a bit over the last several weeks about a digital resource tool called innovate with dairy in effect, that’s the URL innovate with dairy.com. And this is an amazing tool. It’s one of a kind. And it’s really designed that one stop shop for dairy entrepreneurs, anybody who wants to innovate with dairy can go there, they’re going to see an E to Z look of what it takes to innovate with with with dairy products. There’s over 250 vetted resources there. So this is really a fantastic resource that your team has put together. And I know once you had the tool created and wanted to kind of take it on the road a little bit. And pretty recently, you’re at a major event in the country called Expo West. Mar, let me start with you and talk a little bit about Expo West. First of all, what is this event and why did it make sense for the checkoff to be there?

Marla Buerk  1:22 

Yeah, Expo West is actually the biggest natural food show in the country. It’s got over 70,000 people that attend there. It’s basically where entrepreneurs and industry showcase their food and beverage products, a lot of times they’re their latest food and beverage products, their innovation, the things that are really on trend. It’s attended by retailers, investors, and a lot of press. And traditionally the show’s been dominated by plant based food and beverage. But we wanted to showcase dairy this year. And we wanted to show that dairy is the ultimate natural food to innovate with

Scott Wallin  1:56 

you talk a little bit more I know you went into this event with with several objectives. What did you most most want to accomplish? So

Marla Buerk  2:04 

our major objective is always to promote the sale of dairy. And our key strategy to do that is really through product innovation. And we really have to keep up with consumer needs. And we do that through product innovation, right. So at Dairy. At Expo West, we showcase and sampled some amazing dairy innovations. We showcase dairy based beverage creamers that only had five simple ingredients so not like the ones that are currently on market with you know oils and fillers that are non dairy. We showcase Ultra filtered lactose free milk with more protein and less sugar. We show new super premium ice cream that had cookies and crumbles in it that actually stayed crunchy. So there was a moisture migration innovation there. We show new clear carbonated beverage that had protein and probiotics from fresh upcycled way. So both a great product and a great story. And then we brought Brian Fiscalini, the CEO of Fiscalini farms, he sampled delicious, unique flavored cheeses from hysteria, they were unbelievably good. And then he also talked a lot about sustainability about his farm practices, as well as you know, us dairy farm practices and how sustainable we’ve become. And that’s a high interest at this show. So that was great. And then as you said, we showcase the dairy digital resource tool.

Scott Wallin  3:26 

It’s always great when we bring our dairy farmers front and center like that and let people who don’t know dairy farms have a chance to interact with them. Nori, I want to talk with you a little bit obviously you were there at the booth, lots of interactions with people. Talk a little bit about those conversations you had and what sort of response we had from being there.

Norrie Wilson  3:46 

Oh my gosh, Scott, we had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the dairy exhibitor booths that Marla was telling you about. As a matter of fact, when people turn the corner, and they saw our undeniably dairy sign, the first question they asked us, is that real dairy? And we said, Yes, it is. And they just made this deep beeline to sample the products at the innovation booths and love the flavor and the taste of it. And not only that, we were really excited because we had great interest from investors who are interested in investing in these dairy innovations. So they were meeting with the companies right there on the spot. And we also had buyers from retailers who are interested in adding it to their store shelves. And that was one of our primary objectives. We want to be able to drive distribution for dairy based innovation. So we’re really excited about all of that. We also had a lot of other attendees there that Marlon was talking about. We had CPG companies, they had a lot of general interest as well. They’re coming up to us really excited to see dairy. They’re asking us if we’re coming back next year, and we’re saying we’re absolutely looking forward to it.

Scott Wallin  4:44 

I know it was much more than just having a booth on site. You also led an educational session about some research that was based on consumers perceptions of the health and wellness products that are available to them in the marketplace. Can you talk a little bit first about what But that research found and how that was useful to this audience.

Norrie Wilson  5:03 

Yeah, I want to start by just sharing our overall goal for that, because what we’re trying to do is to create this real experiential immersion into the transformational power of dairy. And we did that through four key elements at this education session. So the first one is, we set up by sampling stations for the innovative products that Marla was telling you about. And then the second thing we did coinciding with that is we had this presentation on what consumers really want to meet their health and wellness needs. And that presentation was based on this extensive survey that DMI did, it went out to over 12,000 US consumers, ages two to 75. And it helped them to really identify and profile in depth what consumers health and wellness needs were as it relates to the food and beverages that they consume. And I have to tell you one of the surprising findings from that research, can you imagine over 50% of consumers are dissatisfied with the food and beverages that they’re consuming for the health and wellness needs. That’s huge over 50%. And we know one of the best ways to meet consumer needs is to actually know what those needs truly are. So what we did for the presentation itself is we really focused on sharing out the bundle of both functional and emotional benefits that consumers are looking for across the different situations or occasions that they’re in, because we know you know your needs change depending on the situation or occasion that you’re in. We also worked with a company called spins don’t know if everyone’s familiar with them. But they happen to be the only company that aligns natural, regional, conventional and specialty retail data. So they leverage this very powerful database to help uncover different growth drivers for these occasions, and also to bring to life all those learnings through in market innovative examples. And that’s surprising to us. A lot of those examples that they brought to life were dairy innovations in the marketplace. Now the third thing that we wanted to do and Marla already touched on this a little bit is we really wanted to spotlight how dairy farmers are meeting consumer sustainability needs because we know that’s real ante in the marketplace. So she mentioned and we had Brian Fiscalini there, and he talked to this education session told his story, and really brought it to life that this sustainable farming practices are how important they are not just to his farm, but to the community. He talked about all these great things that they’re doing for renewable energy. And then the last thing that we did, as you already mentioned, the digital innovation resource tool. We’ve been rolling this out, we had a great audience here of our target audience for it. So we introduced it to them as well to sign up and to leverage this great tool. And those are the four key elements that we had

Scott Wallin  7:36 

knowing what was the audience’s response to the research.

Norrie Wilson  7:39 

It was great. First of all, we had standing room only for this education session, we even had to close the doors and we had this great mix of like investors retailers, media, healthcare professional CPG companies. As a matter of fact, we had the two largest beverage CPQ CPG companies as well as the largest snacking company in attendance. And not only that, their reaction to Brian Fiscalini, they were touched and impressed by him. They came up to us afterwards, how engaged and emotional they were with him. And I have to say they loved hearing from the dairy farmers directly

Scott Wallin  8:15 

great work and it’s so exciting, you know, the research to see the opportunities that are out there for dairy and just know that there is a receptive audience to dairy and all the ways that can be innovated with Marlo I want to finish up with you not we’re Expo West is past us a little bit, you’ve had a chance to catch your breath. What do you hope to most do moving forward from this event? What are some of the takeaways and learnings maybe that come from being at Expo West?

Marla Buerk  8:41 

Yeah, we we did great there. I mean, the consumers were really excited about us being in there, the retailers were excited the investors as noise said, we’re excited we the press wasn’t even excited. So we plan on going back again next year. And very simply what we want from Expo West is to encourage more companies to successfully innovate with dairy. More innovation drives more consumer demand and more sales for our farmers. So yeah, we’re really excited about it for the future.

Scott Wallin  9:11 

It absolutely is exciting. Anytime you’re talking innovation and entrepreneurship around dairy, I know that that gets our dairy farmers. Very, very excited. Well, I want to thank both of you today for joining me and really enjoy the conversation. For dairy farmers who want to learn more about their Dairy Checkoff. Be sure to visit Dairy Checkoff. podcast.com Thanks Marlon. Nori

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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