Episode 23 – What Is Really Going On With Dairy In Marketplace?

You may have heard that dairy is dead but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dairy is a powerhouse in marketplace. Listen as Maine dairy farmer Jenni Tilton-Flood talks with Paul Ziemnisky, Executive Vice President of Global Innovation Partnerships at Dairy Management Inc., and Madlyn Daley, Senior Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights for Dairy Management Inc., about how dairy products are doing in the marketplace as well as how the national and local checkoffs are helping to drive dairy innovation and grow sales at retail and restaurants. We’ll also get to hear about exciting new fluid milk products and what consumers are really looking for in dairy. Tune in to find out!

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

Dairy Farmer Hosts:
Farmer Host: Jenni Tilton-Flood @jtiltonflood

Dairy Farmer Guests:
Farmer Guest: Paul Ziemnisky, Executive Vice President of Global Innovation Partnerships at Dairy Management Inc.
Farmer Guest: Madlyn Daley, Senior Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights for Dairy Management Inc.

Transcript (machine generated please ignore typos)

Madlyn Daley  0:00 

A one thing I think that sometimes gets distorted out there in the media is that everyone focuses on plant based and the tremendous growth that they’ve had over the last 10 or so years. But what they neglect to look at is how large the dairy industry is in comparison to that plant base. So for example, over a 52 week or one year period of time, dairy products sold $80 billion worth of very real dairy products versus only 44 billion, sorry, with regards to the plant options, so huge, huge difference in that. And then if you look at how much they’ve actually delivered in terms of games, again, much, much larger were a $3.8 billion gain in just one year period of time, whereas the plant based are about $260 million increase. So again, you know, sometimes percentages can can be misleading.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  0:59 

Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of your Dairy Checkoff Podcast. I’m Jenny Tobin flooded dairy farmer from beans, dairy capital of Clinton, Maine, and I will be your host for today’s discussion, taking a deeper look at sales and consumers consumption of dairy. Today we’ll be talking to Paul’s nisky EVP of Global Innovation Partnerships and Madeline Daly, SVP of strategic insights and Evaluation at Dairy management Incorporated, we know them as DMI and they’re going to discuss how consumers are purchasing and consuming their dairy. Can you just tell us a little bit about what it is you do at DMI what would you roll up your sleeves and dig into Paul you first and then Madeline?

Paul Ziemnisky  1:35 

Hi, everybody pulls them in iski. I lead we call the innovation pillar that encompasses nutrition science and all the functional research for the body to the product science and technologies like ultrafiltration then bringing in the growth platforms and partnerships that the people we work with on the outside whether it’s fluid milk revitalization to the power partnerships at Domino’s McDonald’s, newly added raising canes through finally we call the Strategic Intelligence how we bring the outside world back into the dairy industry, what’s happened with consumers the category science technology and and use that to fuel our insights for the organization.

Madlyn Daley  2:18 

Hi, and I’m Madeline Daly, I’m in what we call our Strategic Intelligence Group here at DMI. And my particular role is to understand kind of where consumers are at with regards to their mindset towards the dairy industry. So understanding you know, how they’re thinking, what products they’re interacting with, and then how does that ladder up to sales of the product. So I am constantly monitoring what’s happening in the retail channel, for example, what’s happening in foodservice, just understanding those big overall trends and notably sales increases.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  2:50 

Great, thank you so much for bringing your experience and expertise is conversation I know that both of you bring bring a real understanding and convey the realistic facts to us all the time. So I guess, as a farmer founder, when I walk into the grocery store or go to the market, or or wherever I am doing my purchasing, what is it that I can be proud of? What is it that that should be exciting me,

Paul Ziemnisky  3:15 

in that I can start putting the frame on it, when you when you think about the category itself, you know, 230 billion pounds, you know, we’ve grown 64 billion pounds of production the last 20 years, you know, that’s that’s about almost 2% growth. You know, the farmers are amazing, we produce about 3 billion pounds more a milk a year. And we find new amazing ways to grow that rebellion in the minds of consumers, both domestically and internationally. You know, when you when you look at the last five years that that production that we’ve grown has been split 50% consumed domestically, and that additional poundage has been consumed, you know, 50% internationally. And so, we work with our peers, we use DAC and the industry to really focus growth, you know, I’ll call it abroad and domestically. So domestically, you’ve had amazing success across different channels, from food service, to retail, to healthcare and internationally the same thing. We’ve really, from an international perspective, taken some of the insights we’ve done here domestically, I’ll pick a category like pizza, where you know, you look at the food service channel, about 35% of cheese goes through that, that pizza segment. And that’s why we focus to make sure that pizza segments healthy because it takes so much dairy. We’ve taken the knowledge working with domestic partners, and I have successfully then taken that volume and exported it internationally with and through those domestic players like Pizza Hut Domino’s, into new places like Japan, Southeast Asia. Now we’re opening up the Middle East to so I think this combination of taking what we’re learning domestically and moving volume internationally and that’s the farmers who were pushing them working with these power players to unlock New growth market when you think about 330 million people in the US, you know, you got billions just in Southeast Asia. So that’s why it’s so critical to you know, the farmer should be proud of unlocking those new markets for dairy growth.

Madlyn Daley  5:14 

Yeah, and I would just kind of piggyback onto that, and say that as we look at various places where dairy can be purchased and consumed, we see a very strong retail market. If we think about, overall, the entire grocery store, the aisle in which dairy sits, the refrigerated part of dairy is the largest aisle in the entire store. And dairy is actually larger than looking at fresh meats or fresh fruits or vegetables, carbonated soft drinks. It’s the the largest of all of those. And also, as you think about the growth that we’ve seen over the last couple of years, dairy has excelled in that respect as well, and is posting some of the largest gains that we’ve seen. And then similarly, if we think about, you know, the food service channels, certainly it’s been challenged a lot over the COVID period of time as as many restaurants were closed down. We do see recovery that’s occurring, and certainly some of the markets in which we play. And I would say that she’s is a huge player, when it comes to food service with more than half of its volume moving through that channel. You know, we’re seeing that the pizza industry is coming back, we’re seeing many of the players that we have been involved with helping to kind of push forth, that growth within that marketplace.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  6:28 

That’s great. And I really like and appreciate the way, Paul that when you were talking about those good things, you also dovetailed in the the work that’s going on at DMI to advance all these positive aspects. So Madeline, I’ll put you on the spot here. When you look at that challenge to you know, institutional feeding and congregational feeding and restaurants and such what what are some of the things in either one of you can answer this, what are some of the things that checkoff is doing to make sure that we we get back to where we are, we find a way to get back to those levels to ensure that we’re out there, and we’re back in the game? Well, I think one

Madlyn Daley  7:06 

part of it is that we’re playing with the big big players, I guess, I would say in the industry to make change. So if you think about some of the food service partners over the years that we’ve partnered with, you know, certainly McDonald’s and Domino’s are just leaders in their particular areas. And so by working with some of the largest areas of foodservice and also those that we’ll be working on in the future, we’re helping to kind of set the stage and others kind of follow that lead as well. And so if you can kind of create innovation and growth within the big players, you’ll find the smaller ones will will look for those growth pockets and kind of follow through.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  7:44 

Great thanks. And you know, I I love that you mentioned those those two foundational payment partners of McDonald’s and Domino’s and a lot of times farmers think well what else what else and Paul you did refer refer to raising canes, you know, we’re talking about putting cheese where cheese wasn’t before we’re putting more dairy where we’ve there’s an entire team that is expanding a menu that is known for being non expanded. So I mean, I think that that’s, that’s really amazing work and I think that speaks to where we are trying to meet consumers where they are we’re trying to meet the partners where they are, and we’re making sure that they’re doing the heavy lifting, lifting, right I mean, and that’s something that we we don’t think of we usually we think that we’re the ones doing that heavy lifting we do enough heavy lifting on the farm and getting the milk to market and making sure it’s fresh and high quality these partners are the ones who are who are putting in the the extra time and effort and money Correct.

Paul Ziemnisky  8:39 

Oh for sure. I mean really what we try to do is that all the food service players or channel players we work with they may not think about the dairy category first like we do and so we we look at it how do we make sure we bring a dairy lens and incremental dairy lens so that their efforts and so we do a lot of the upfront work for them. We’ll look at new concept territories. So they may be incentive like a McDonald’s may be focusing on trying to grow their chicken business we’re like well, how can we bring a dairy lens to the chicken business or great example is raising canes they’re they’re an emerging chicken player, you know that one of the top two Gen Z’s favorite brands, you know, they do more dollar sales per restaurant and Domino’s McDonald’s and Taco Bell. And they’re growing rapidly. But they have a couple of items very little dairy. So we’re like this, this company who intends to be bigger than KFC in two years? How do we make sure we can get dairy from whether it’s a beverage space, or like the cheese with a chicken or a dairy side they have no desserts like ice cream. So our job is to try to bring that incremental dairy lands to these players. And so we do have the outline of that front have proven the opportunity space for them. And whether it’s a test or consumer concepts, but they may spend 100 millions of dollars in marketing, commercializing it through the system training their operators how to run it and make it taste great. And so again, our investments much smaller, because we’re doing proof of concept and they’re doing the commercialization. And so it’s usually we say their their investment is usually around 20 to one at a minimum Rs. Plus, we also want as we work with them, create growth targets, even upfront, every even for an existing player like McDonald’s or, or Taco Bell, we still always have annual growth targets and try to is, is there a way to keep that volume moving incrementally every year? Or is it time to walk away? So we have that challenge and that discussions with him every year?

Jenni Tilton-Flood  10:42 

So you know, what, I hear a lot that dairy is dead. And, and I hear I hear that, from not just people who don’t like dairy, but from people within dairy. We think that it’s, it’s not going anywhere. But it sounds like that when you approach these partners. You don’t have to sell them on dairy. You have to just help them figure out how to make dairy work for them. They know it’s a sure thing. Correct?

Paul Ziemnisky  11:05 

Correct. And one thing I think we’re different is we have the lens for the farmer of driving incremental sales. No one else just thinks incremental. And a lot of players are amazing quality suppliers. And the industry will tell you we have quality, consistent and great quality supply. But not a lot of people are bringing them growth spaces and growth ideas like we do. So we try to look at what categories can we can ignite growth in. I’ll give you a great example. Jenny one right now is creamers. The creamer category is the inverse of milk, milk 15 billion plant base is 2 billion. So it’s 17 billion. The creamers is the opposite 4 billion plus, and only 140 million are real dairy the rest is all fake. So thinking incrementally how do we attack new space as attack new categories? How to disrupt like right now we’re working with General Mills, how do we disrupt Yogur because you guys think about yogurt, you got yogurt, and then it goes into like some of the adult in flavor, we’re looking at new formats of yogurt, you know, and in the short term, we’re getting base hits and doubles with General Mills way like we’ve launched ratio, heat, you know, helping them with keto, bringing the whole milk knowledge of fluid milk into the yogurt with we, but also making fun of bringing cereal emerging cereal with yogurt with their cereal toppers, trying new things to make it more modern and relevant. I like to tell the farmers were like a lot of our categories like a Ford F 150, trusted and traditional. But the kids today, they also say give me a cool Ford Bronco, or they want premium give me a wrapper which you know, so we have a lot of spaces to grow on the premium side, the experiential side. You know, think about snacking cheese, right? There’s a lot of snack cheese cubes. We were just at Expo West, they’re launching wasabi flavored cheese snacks, strawberry flavor, cheese snacks. So that’s you know, bringing in fruits and stuff and adding it to it bringing in nuts to the cheese and adding it so you’re we’re still huge growth opportunities and snacking and the beverage space. People forget coffees growing in milks. The number one ingredient is coffee beverages, right, but you see the Asian teas coming. You see these ready to drink protein beverages continue to grow. So there’s a lot of incremental growth spaces at retail food service globally, that you know and our job for the farmers to help unlock those growth spaces.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  13:37 

So I love that you were talking about opportunities. Madalyn, when we look at the trends of where consumers are reaching what they want to put in their cart what they want to put in their body. As farmers we hear a lot about lab grown or cellular dairy free products, which talk talk a little bit about the trends there and how they might match up to the real dairy products we’re putting on the shelves.

Madlyn Daley  14:00 

Sure, Jenny, one thing I think that sometimes gets distorted out there in the media is that everyone focuses on plant based and the tremendous growth that they’ve had over the last 10 or so years. But what they neglect to look at is how large the dairy industry is in comparison to that plant base. So for example, over a 52 week or one year period of time, dairy products sold $80 billion worth of dairy real dairy products versus only 44 billion sorry, with regards to the plant options, so huge, huge difference in that. And then if you look at how much they’ve actually delivered in terms of gains, again, much much larger, we’re at $3.8 billion gain and just one year period of time, whereas the plant based are about $260 million increase. So again, you know sometimes percentages can can be misleading from a consumer perspective. And even within the dairy category, you know, we see many areas of growth sir like cheese has been a key driver over the long term and continues to be kind of a shining star. But we also saw during the COVID period of time, that butter really stepped up from a consumer perspective with people, you know, baking more cooking more. And even though you know, inflation has kind of hit us and we start to see a little bit of maybe pullback. What we also know is that where we are today is still much higher than where we were before the pandemic even hit. So again, many of those at home behaviors are still in place. We also see some exciting things happening within yogurts, for example, we see people wanting the yogurt drinks, something they could kind of take with them a product they view as being healthy, delicious, you know, great taste is a key hallmark of dairy, I would say. So across many categories, we’re seeing some great growth areas.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  15:53 

So I love it. Both of you mentioned yogurt, I love yogurt. But I just recently saw a tick tock or real and it was of like the amazement of someone who was in France in one of their markets. And the yogurt section just went on, it was both sides of the aisle, and they were just and I’m sitting there thinking I thought our yogurt section was incredibly large, you know, it had more than, you know, more than three items in it. And it’s grown so much, you know, over the past few years. So, and I feel that the reason it grows is because there are new products, new formulations, new versions to drink bubbles of yogurts, as you mentioned. So I guess I guess I’m I’m wondering what is it the checkoff is doing to take advantage of the opportunities that some of these new products is? Is it producing new products? Is it safeguarding the products that are already there? How was checkoff working to make sure that you know farmers can benefit from from these opportunities?

Paul Ziemnisky  16:54 

One, I think we start with a science Jenny and a we continue to do more science and prove the functional benefits of dairy in these spaces, gut health. You know, we’re doing health and wellness landscape research right now. And you know that looking at the top consumer needs and benefits, and then identifying how do we make sure we have the modern claims to attack those needs and benefits. So emerging areas, whether it’s bone science, digestive health, to, you know, performance. So one is the doing the science, proving the science. And that’s why we brought in new collaborations, like Mayo Clinic to have that trusted science edge. But then also saying how do we create new technologies and products to commercialize it and unlock new growth spaces. So we’re in the process of looking at new technologies where we can capture, whether it’s a whole milk product, or some of the functional bioactives of milk and a new modern way that lets us have new claims and new products, you know, whether it’s lactoferrin, and lactoferrin, has functional benefits like immunity. But you’d have to have 21 glasses of milk to get those functional benefits. Well, if we can do things differently, where you get that in the glass and call it immunity milk. That’s what we mean by bringing the combination of technology and science to life. And then pushing it downstream. We’re looking at where are these opportunity to grow spaces, just like you said, we just brought in General Mills as a partner a couple of years ago, because one of the things we’re seeing is this consumer opportunity in the space of digestive health, immunity. And also, we’re even looking ahead food as medicines coming. You know, drugs can only do so much when you get into that mitochondria, food can help and a lot of these things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease. And so we you know, when you look at the culture products, that fermented products, a lot of that from dairy, we’re just starting at, we believe were at the tip of the iceberg of bringing a lot more functional foods to market. And again, we want to be at the front and center to inform the industry where the spaces are, help enable them with the science help enable with some of this emerging technology using the farmer funded dairy research centers, right, we have 140 experts tied into airy researches and extended 22 Total facilities that work across the space to help on the discovery of the benefits all the way to the technology. So we’re going across the industry, with the producers of what our role is, and we’re trying to, you know, be that forefront of science. And I would just add

Madlyn Daley  19:29 

to that, you know, as Paul talks about what’s going on in the future, what are those future opportunities? There’s also a track record of what’s happened already in building on some of the past right we have high protein products in the market that are you know, skyrocketing in terms of sales. We acknowledge that consumers are looking for lower sugar and so you see lower sugar yogurts emerging on the market are lower sugar flavored milks, and those are doing quite well. You also see, you know, other areas such as consumers interests, Perhaps in some enhanced benefits, maybe they’re looking for more probiotics and their products are looking for more omega etc. So again, I think the dairy industry has built on some of that in the past. And you know, the key will be to keep up with where consumer benefits are facing towards the future.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  20:18 

And am I correct in saying that in a lot of these scientific aspects and benefits that dirt real dairy can offer, that some of the competition can’t really compete in those spaces right now? Correct? Oh, correct from

Paul Ziemnisky  20:33 

me, when you look at PLANT BASE from performance, the nutritional benefits, the body of science, nothing. So we’re definitely and that’s what we also work with our communications team to help educate the health care professionals, you know, and we can do so much we also outside influencers and bringing in the medical profession, whether it’s the National Medical Association, who is tied to African Americans, and endorsing and actually educating about the value of dairy to, like I said, new relationships with Mayo Clinic to say, how can they with their powerful voice know the number one trusted brand of physicians and consumers to use them to be that voice of the science for us. And then, as just as we’ve looked at these opportunity spaces, making sure that we we also work across the industry to one of things we’re talking about is making sure we say the same thing consistently. You know, you have so many companies using the area and the more simple of the benefits in functional things getting us to work together more if one of the things we’re talking about in the future is how do we push out the messaging and the functional benefits in a new modern way?

Jenni Tilton-Flood  21:41 

Great. And, and I will say that I’m so appreciative of the fact that our checkoff and our firm are funded work is now working in collaborating with, with the populations we seek to find and working with the National Medical Association, because we have to understand that while dairy is, is a wonderful sustainable nutrition, food, it is not digestible, and it’s not an acceptable diet for many people, but we have the ability to make sure that, that they can enjoy it, and they can be our consumers, and they can be our happy, healthy consumers. And I’m so glad to have that. And we don’t have much time left. But I do want to ask, we talked about fluid, we talked about sales a little bit, but just you know, as a as a farmer, from the oldest milk shed in the country, I guess, you know, here in New England, I have to ask how is fluid milk doing? Should we be worried about it and and how is checkoff making sure that, that we’re spending money from our milk checks and our hard earned dollars to ensure that that we are still viable and sustainable here in our corner of the world? Malin, you

Paul Ziemnisky  22:57 

want to start off finish?

Madlyn Daley  22:58 

Yeah, I mean, so it is true that we’ve been seeing a decline over many decades in terms of fluid milk consumption in this country. We also know that, you know, we got hit with some really, you know, terrible events over the last several years. So first COVID hit us that maybe saw a little bit of an uptick in terms of fluid milk sales, but then certainly, you know, people were on the move again, and then inflation hit us hard, right. So we do see an impact from a consumer perspective, what I would tell you is that currently, the decline, the rate of decline that we’re experiencing, is not that different than what we’ve had endured kind of over the long historical period of time. But but it is down. You know, as we look within that fluid milk market, we do see some growth spaces, though, we see Whole Milk has come back, you know, after many, many, many decades of decline. Now, people have permission to kind of enjoy those whole fat products again, so we’ve seen nice increases there. We’re also seeing really good growth and kind of that lactose free area. Jenny, you mentioned a little bit earlier, the importance of really trying to make sure we connect with all types of people. And certainly those with lactose intolerance are now we’re able to kind of enjoy that product. And we’re seeing good growth there as well. So again, the entire categories now, but we’re finding some areas that we can build on for the future. We just we need more of those areas, I guess I would say

Paul Ziemnisky  24:25 

yeah. And to build off. When you when you look at the category where there has been investment, there’s growth, value added as milk, you know, high protein, low sugar lactose free. Now we’ve launched you know, recently you see probiotic, right, so functional benefits that consumers are looking for, and guess what they’re paying two bucks more per gallon and plant based. You look at where we’ve invested in science like the whole fat the whole fat as a percentage growth of the categories moved up 12 percentage points the last decade. Do you know where flavor has grown over the last five years? So there’s investment in brands investment like and that’s what’s typical in any category I grew up in pizza. If you didn’t invest a new product every year, guess what happened? Your competitors did. And what happened was, milk was controlled by players who didn’t invest every year didn’t think about the consumer put the consumers first. Now you have new players coming into the category, acting like a brand new category again, and investing in the future. The only thing that’s declining, if you look at the last five years, is that conventional low fat milk, right. And that’s been controlled majority by private label the retailer’s. And I bet you ask any farmer, you don’t want to give your business over to a retailer, right? So we’re taking the business back and investing into the future. And again, it goes back to better packaging, better science, better messaging. And so we’re working with milk PAP and the processors, if you’ve seen over the last 12 months, where they’ve gotten more aggressive in their marketing campaign around milk hydrate, you know, they call their prey to claims milk hydrates better than water, the power of protein, to retake that health and wellness piece that we need to do with it back consumer. That’s one of the phases other one again, is we’re working with a lot of players in the industry looking at new packaging, graphics and structure, you know, looking at bringing like more functional, like we said, the probiotics and even further benefits of whether it’s immunity colony stress spaces that consumers and then also we’ve seen quality improvement in the industry as well. So players are investing back in the category. And that’s what it’s going to take to keep it relevant in that and so we’re still in 92% of household. You know, despite probably about 20,000 new beverage products a year. I always encouraged the farmers to go next time they go to the store, don’t walk the milk section walk the beverage section in the billions of dollars. If you go back to coffee 25 years ago, coffee was a it was Maxwell House and Folgers tried to find that now. And that guess what that sold for on a price per ounce. And look at what they’re selling coffee foreigner price per ounce. And then look at go to the ready to drink coffee section you got locked alone, that sells for 40. Last time I looked it’s 40 bucks a gallon. And that little glass. So I have people telling me we can’t sell milk for 388 A gallon ago, they’re buying a coffee with milk for 40. So again, there’s a premium premiumization is coming to the categories, consumers look for that experience and in the category. So I think I’m a big believer that we’re just getting started and relevancy and milk and consumers coming back to Whole Foods. And we’ve seen that plant based over the last 12 months is down in volume 2.6%. You know, so and they’re starting to go out each other, you know, they’re talking about who’s got a cleaner label, because, you know, everybody knows that they’re they’ve got a lot of stabilizers and additives to try to make up for the stuff that they can’t deliver in reality. So, you know, there’s a, I think there’s a future with milk, and we’re just getting started.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  28:02 

Okay, I am going to throw you a curveball. And you don’t know this is coming. But I think you all can rise to the challenge. I want you to give me three words to describe how you want farmers to feel after this conversation or what you want them to take away from this conversation. So three words, call you go first, and then you met on will have the last three words.

Paul Ziemnisky  28:27 

First would be because I think the category in our future is fun. Again, the first thing consumer buys product for taste. So fun. Number two functional. I think that when we look at the food is medicine and all that is coming. And the third is value, not just volume. So find functional value.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  28:55 

Thank you and Madeline

Madlyn Daley  28:58 

I would say proud, proud of the accomplishments of the industry so far long term, I’d say positive. You know, as you look to the future, there’s a lot of untapped markets out there. I think pointing just to the European market. Certainly we’re still in our infancy. And some areas like yogurt and cheese as well. And then I would say growth, I see it as something that’s going to continue to grow.

Jenni Tilton-Flood  29:22 

Oh, that’s great. Thank you so much, folks. This has been really amazing. I feel good and you know, thank you to all you do. I really appreciate all the work you guys put in everything. Thank you, Madeline and Paul for this discussion today. It’s been interesting to hear about consumer purchasing and consumption trends as it pertains to dairy. And in closing, we just want to say thank you for joining us today. If you want to hear more about various issues affecting the dairy community. Subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast platforms, including Stitcher, Spotify and iTunes or you can check out our website Dairy Checkoff. podcast.com for future episodes. Until next time, have Have a great day

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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