The meeting was held in Arizona, which is home to 85 dairy farms and ranks 12th in milk production in the U.S. One of the natives shared the five C’s of Arizona’s economy; Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus & Climate.
Master of ceremonies Mike Adams who, host of Agri-Talk, said he knew it was going to be a good meeting when he was served tacos, pizza and ice cream all before lunch! When you attend a dairy event, you eat lots of delicious dairy foods! Some traditional favorites and some products that are new to the market place.
The highlight of the meeting for me was hearing from companies who are partnering with American dairy farmers to enhance their food offerings. These companies include McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Quaker and Dominos. They depend on milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream and other dairy products to create delicious menu items and food products.
Taco Bell President Brian Niccol and Chief Food Innovation Officer Liz Matthews told us how they plan to grow sales through product innovation and new menu items, including a new breakfast menu. One thing they’ve found is people love cheese and want products with more cheese! They’ve responded to their customers, 90% of the items on Taco Bell’s menu include dairy. In 2014, Taco Bell will use 2 billion pounds of milk in the form of cheese, sour cream and other ingredients. Their goal is transparency and enhancing the customer’s eating experience. The Taco Bell truck parked outside our meeting serving Doritos Locos Tacos – they are delicious!
Quaker Food & Snacks Strategy Senior Manager Christian Bryinski shared that Quaker is one of the most trusted brands at breakfast. They are known best for oatmeal, but offer a variety of products. Christian shared two new products with us; the Breakfast Shake and Warm & Crunchy Granola. I tried both of these new products and they tasted great. One goal dairy farmers share with Quaker is encouraging people to mix oatmeal with milk instead of water. It tastes so much better with milk!
|Mike Konkle (Dairy MAX), Steve Maddox (dairy farmer), Christian Bryzinski (Quaker) & Darci Forrest (McDonald's)|
McDonald’s Senior Director of Marketing Darci Forrest shared there are 27 new dairy-friendly products on their menu. She said when you ask customers, they feel positive about dairy. That’s good to hear! Through dairy check-off funds, we partner with McDonald’s by providing onsite staff including food scientists, a nutrition advisor and a sustainability advisor to assist with product development. Thank you to McDonald’s for creating this wonderful video featuring their restaurant and America’s dairy farmers.
Our partnership with Domino’s Pizza raised total milk use in pizza cheese by 10 billion pounds! And has resulted in some wonderful new additions to their menu. One of my favorites is the Stuffed Cheese Bread.
Thanks to these restaurants and food companies for supporting farmers who produce the raw ingredients. We depend on each other to feed people. We share many of the same goals; producing quality products people want to eat, using sustainable practices that create long-term success, community involvement and engaging consumers. It’s important that we have trust in each other.
One more thing, the Real Seal character has a new name DairyUS! Look for the RealSeal on products for assurance that you are buying a genuine dairy product, made from milk from cows on U.S. dairy farms, and meeting strict manufacturing requirements. When you see the REAL® Seal on a dairy product, in a store or restaurant, you can trust it’s the real thing, and not an imitation.
It was great to have an opportunity to represent fellow dairy producers at this event!