Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

Checkoff Watch: Assessing dairy’s future in a post-COVID-19 world

Contributed by Eve Pollet Published on 24 August 2020
milk truck

The dairy checkoff has spent the last several months doing everything possible to move farmers’ milk and quickly get it into the hands of consumers. Working with partners in foodservice and retail, and teaming up with schools and feeding centers, we’re focused on keeping the pipelines moving during the pandemic.

At the same time, it’s important to our future that we also consider the scenarios which can and likely will emerge on the other side, as we begin planning for a post-COVID-19 world.

advertisement

advertisement

Sixty-four percent of people believe this pandemic, as horrible as it is, will lead to valuable innovations and improvements in how we live, work and treat each other, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update. While we cannot predict the future, we have seen certain trends accelerate and become even more critical for dairy’s future success. A continued focus on health and wellness, including mental health, is one we have undoubtedly seen as a driver during this time. Others are gaining momentum as well and will provide important opportunities for dairy.

Dairy’s environmental commitment

Forty million global health professionals are calling for a “green recovery” post-pandemic, and consumers are calling for a “COVID-19-like” response to climate change. Agriculture’s role will undoubtedly be a component of this recovery and response.

Younger generations are extremely climate-conscious and will demand that brands make transparent and aggressive climate commitments and continually report their progress. In June, New Jersey became the first state to announce the addition of “climate change” to K-12 education standards, a move that underscores the importance for dairy to continue its progress as future generations learn about agriculture and climate change.

Business models that address food waste and supply chain issues are taking off as well. One such company, Imperfect Foods, takes imperfect produce and wasted food from channels such as airlines and hotels, and sells it directly to consumers online through a subscription model. Dairy is included, and we have seen this expand into partnerships, including one with the first carbon-neutral milk company, Neutral. We can expect more concepts like these to be introduced in the coming years, and we need to ensure dairy has a seat at the table.

Purpose over profit

Consumers have witnessed breakdowns of industries meant to serve, protect and nourish, and the same Edelman report finds 71% say if they perceive a brand to be putting profit over people, they will lose trust in them forever.

advertisement

The crisis has consumers calling for a post-COVID-19 world that focuses less on economic growth at the cost of the environment and human health, with data showing that one-third of consumers have convinced others to stop using a brand they felt was acting inappropriately in response to the pandemic.

More than ever, consumers expect brands to do the right things, and there are organizations that track America’s largest employers’ responses to the pandemic. Consumers can then judge whether they align with a company’s response or not.

Technological adoptions

As the world was forced to go online in March, COVID-19 started the next wave of innovation and disruption. Emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, drone technology, automated vehicles and others stepped in to solve problems humans couldn’t solve.

According to the National Research Group, 88% of Americans surveyed say they have a “better appreciation” for the role technology has played in helping culture and society during the coronavirus crisis.

Increasingly, business leaders from dairy farmers to consumer packaged goods (CPG) executives will need to adopt new technologies and leverage them to their advantage.

Building dairy’s future now

COVID-19 has consumers calling for transparency and responsibility with brands and companies at the center. Dairy has an opportunity to be an even stronger force in the food system at that center.

advertisement

Dairy industry, let’s use these learnings to grab that opportunity together.  end mark

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit Undeniably dairy or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Farmer Group on Facebook. To reach us directly, send an email to Talk to the checkoff

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 farmers 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.

PHOTO: Staff photo.

Eve Pollet
  • Eve Pollet

  • Senior Vice President, Strategic Intelligence
  • Dairy Management Inc.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS