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Checkoff Watch: Your dairy checkoff moves more cheese – nationally and locally

Published on 11 June 2015

Your dairy checkoff moves more cheese – nationally and locally

There has been much said about the dairy checkoff’s efforts to turn around fluid milk consumption, along with the strength of exports through the checkoff-led U.S. Dairy Export Council, all of which is great news for dairy farmers.

But the domestic cheese story remains as strong as ever.

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Cheese consumption has been on the rise for the last few years, and the key has been other-than-American cheese, fueled by the checkoff’s partnership work with Domino’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. And these efforts have led their competitors to do more with cheese.

In 2014, cheese commercial disappearance was up nearly 10 billion pounds of milk versus five years ago, driven primarily by our partnership work. Domino’s reported its first-quarter 2015 domestic sales were up 14.5 percent, which means cheese sales are way up – the best quarter yet since the partnership began in 2009.

Other efforts promotemore cheese enjoyment

There is more good news for cheese and American dairy beyond these high-profile wins:

  • Pizza in schools – The checkoff has teamed with Domino’s to change pizza in the cafeteria. We have helped make Domino’s Smart Slice Pizza a much better tasting lunch while having it fit the nutritional guidelines for school meals, boasting lower sodium and fewer calories.

    Smart Slice is in more than 3,000 schools in 500-plus districts nationwide. Domino’s estimates it moved more than 1.7 million pounds of school lunch cheese in 2014. Pizza Hut has followed suit, looking to up its presence in the school cafeteria.

  • U.S. cheese in the Pacific Rim – In 2010, the checkoff teamed with suppliers to make inroads in the growing market for food service cheese in the Pacific Rim by offering an incentive to Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s to switch from foreign sources to American-made cheese.

    The companies responded, and since the promotion began, we have seen 173 million pounds of U.S. cheese go through the region in five years, of which 47 million were incremental.

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  • Dairy Research Centers focus on cheese – The checkoff-founded-and-funded Dairy Research Centers, which are affiliated with prominent universities, have been working for more than 25 years on innovations that have helped co-ops, processors and manufacturers produce better cheese products and ingredients, which has led to increased consumption.

    The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Food Safety Operating Committee partners with the dairy centers to host food safety training workshops for small dairy companies on the processes needed to ensure food safety in their unique operations.

The heightened profile of cheese at national food service chains is great, and we’ll keep pushing for innovation here because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Combined with the initiatives above and others, the domestic cheese category will keep growing for America’s dairy farm families. PD

On the web

  • DairyGood – Visitto find the many ways the dairy checkoff is building and reinforcing consumer trust in you and your products.
  • The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy – See how the checkoff is bringing the industry together to work on common issues that help move more dairy.
  • Dairy.org – Visit to learn more about your checkoff and find links to local promotion organizations.

Local spotlight

Your state and regional promotion organizations work with national and local partners to showcase dairy locally, recognize the value of dairy farm families and move more product. Here are some highlights:

cheese wheel

Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association

Mid-Atlantic worked with a chef and school food service director at a local high school to teach culinary students how to use fluid milk to make fresh cheeses. To put the lessons into action, 12 students are competing in a fresh cheese-making contest that will be judged by a chef, food service director and a local dairy farmer.

Western Dairy Association

Providing recipes and education on how pizza can fit into a healthy meal plan is WDA’s plan to increase cheese consumption locally. WDA hired a school district chef to create three homemade pizza recipes that are school meal compatible. These recipes will be shared with school nutrition directors during an upcoming farm tour. Domino’s will provide pizza to the school nutrition directors and, in a separate event, to about 1,000 people during a farm tour and pizza event for June Dairy Month.

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Simply Southern cookbook

Southeast United DairyIndustry Association

Simply Southern – Delicious Easy Cheese Recipes for Any Occasion” is a new recipe booklet featuring a collection of classic Southern cheese recipes and a cheese platter guide. With photography, recipe instructions and a nutrient analysis of every recipe, this publication is an effective way to encourage consumers to use cheese when they are entertaining. SUDIA shares this booklet at state fairs, exhibits and professional meetings.

mini burgers

United Dairymen of Idahoand Southeast United Dairy Industry Association

The United Dairymen of Idaho and the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association hosted a “Cheese Symposium” for restaurant chain menu development executives from Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, Krystal and Shoney’s. The symposium was aimed at increasing awareness of the impact of cheese on restaurant menus. As a result, Krystal launched a Cheese Lovers’ line of sandwiches featuring American, Swiss and cheddar cheeses for a limited time.

PHOTOS
PHOTO 2: What could be more delicious and enticing for consumers – and it uses LOTS of cheese!

PHOTO 3: Farmers in the West and South have teamed to move more cheese through quick-serve restaurants.

Test your answer

How popular is Domino’s Smart Slice Pizza, which the checkoff helped develop for schools?

ANSWER: Smart Slice is in more than 3,000 schools in 500-plus districts nationwide. Domino’s estimates it moved more than 1.7 million pounds of school lunch cheese in 2014.

Your Dairy Checkoff in Action – The following update is provided by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy producers and dairy importers. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing sales of and demand for dairy products and ingredients.

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