OKEMOS, Mich. — From expanded partnerships and working to overcome food security concerns to finding new ways to reach the next generation of dairy consumers, Michigan dairy promotion efforts hit noteworthy milestones in 2022.
“Every day we work to approach dairy promotion the same way Michigan dairy farmers farm – with consistency and passion,” says Dwyer Williams, United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) CEO. “I’m incredibly proud to report our dairy promotion efforts have been laser-focused to forge trust and build positive awareness among Gen Z and Millennial audiences through channels and activities that allow us to connect directly to our audiences. Dairy farmers, through their checkoff investment, are ensuring dairy foods are accessible and bring joy to all communities and all generations in Michigan.”
Dairy for the future
Nowhere is that passion more evident than with promotions geared toward Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012. This generation makes up 27% of the U.S. population and is a crucial focus since these individuals represent the future of dairy consumption, as well as possess incredible buying power.
In 2022, dairy farmers connected with the next generation of consumers in new ways, including:
- A sMOOthie pilot project with Chartwells School Dining Services, a branch of Compass Group, the largest food service contract management company in the state. The project began in 41 Michigan schools – 140 schools nationwide – and serves milk-based smoothies three times a week. Student and school food service response has been overwhelmingly positive. This project will run through the end of the school year.
- UDIM Virtual farm tours are a popular and welcome way for children, parents and teachers to learn more about Michigan dairy farms straight from the source. This year, four virtual tours were viewed by thousands of virtual visitors throughout the state and across the country to learn first-hand how farmers care for cows, calves and land. Since 2019, Michigan farmers have reached more than 150,000 consumers with virtual farm tours.
- UDIM Farm-to-school curriculum and materials help build trust in the next generation of consumers while introducing students to different career paths.
- Under the Milk Means More and Conquer with Milk umbrellas, UDIM is on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as TikTok and YouTube, channels frequently used by the next generation of dairy consumers. Dairy’s story on social media is resonating with key audiences, Generation Z and Millennial Parents, more than ever before because of video content featuring delicious recipes, farm sustainability practices and UDIM’s contribution to local communities. These visuals have contributed to UDIM’s 463,000 social media engagements in 2022 (how many people interacted with a post). Dairy-positive posts from UDIM have been displayed 24 million times.
Consumer dairy connections
Consumer communications are a cornerstone in helping consumers understand dairy foods are a powerful combination of natural nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle. The goal of these programs is to bridge the gap and share dairy’s dynamic message with people where they live.
- UDIM tapped into the Detroit Pistons megaphone to expand dairy’s voice in an area of the state where a significant number of people live and work. Social media content reached more than 8.3 million people while a series of billboards along I-96 was seen by millions more viewers.
- Michigan farmers harnessed Dairy Producer Grants to actively support and guide in-person promotional events in their local communities, like the Winterlaufe Race, Sebewaing Firemen’s Benefit Breakfast and MSU Dairy Club’s Dairy Day at the Rock.
Increasing food security
UDIM made huge waves this past year with its growing collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross Complete of Michigan, whose values to reach more underserved Michiganders match Michigan dairy farmers’ values.
Through this Food Pantry Grant program, dairy farmers reached a record 85 food pantry organizations to help supply those in need with nutritious dairy foods, that’s 60 additional organizations who received help from this partnership.
- The 2022 program awarded 110 grants totaling $193,500 in partnership funds, offering a prime example of how partnering with organizations with shared values can help amplify efforts and boost program effectiveness.
The success of these efforts on behalf of farmers continues to build a strong foundation for the future.
“We’ve developed a multi-year innovative strategic plan to continue driving programs such as these to promote Michigan dairy and dairy foods to consumers through education, innovation and research,” adds Williams. “We’re thrilled to share what we’ve accomplished so far and are ready to showcase dairy in a variety of unexpected ways in 2023 and beyond.”
To learn more about the dairy checkoff and promoting dairy in your community, go to milkmeansmore.org.
About the United Dairy Industry of Michigan
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is dedicated to serving Michigan’s hard-working dairy farm families and promoting Michigan’s locally produced dairy products. UDIM is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education services on behalf of their funding members.
— United Dairy Industry of Michigan