Checkoff partnerships represent farmers’ values, priorities
Thursday, April 12, 2018
By Tom Gallagher, CEO, Dairy Management Inc.
When the dairy checkoff’s business and marketing strategy shifted from a pure advertising approach to working with and through foodservice and retail partners, there were some critical factors to be considered.
We wanted to work with partners who have the same values as our dairy farmers. And we wanted to work with leaders who can move the needle on dairy sales and make an impact that others in the marketplace will follow.
McDonald’s is that kind of checkoff partner.
It is one of the largest customers of U.S. dairy in North America, and we’ve enjoyed many wins since our partnership began in 2009.
Some quick highlights include:
- The change from serving milk in cardboard containers to the kid-friendly “Milk Jug.”
- The launch of McDonald’s McCafé specialty drinks line in 2009. Today, 90 percent of these beverages feature dairy.
- The move from margarine to butter in all of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants in 2015 – a change that responded to consumer trends and nutrition research showing the benefits of milk fat. The result is an incremental 700 million pounds of milk moving through McDonald’s restaurants each year.
In each of the above examples, your checkoff team has worked in close collaboration with McDonald’s helping to expand and improve the dairy experience for millions of McDonald’s customers who visit the chain’s 14,000 restaurants every day. And, in the past three years, there has been five percent annual dairy volume growth at McDonald’s.
Lately, farmers have asked about our McDonald’s partnership after its announcement that chocolate milk and cheeseburgers would be removed from its Happy Meal menu boards.
This decision is not about an elimination of dairy but more about McDonald’s global initiative to achieve its goal of 600 calories or less in the Happy Meal. McDonalds also aims to reduce sodium, saturated fat and added sugar levels from the meal.
Customers can still request chocolate milk and cheeseburgers with a Happy Meal and white milk remains on the menu board and in advertising.
In the meantime, McDonald’s is reformulating its chocolate milk to achieve its nutritional goals. This work is occurring with checkoff support as our onsite scientists are assisting McDonald’s and its suppliers with the reformulation. When this work is complete, customers will again see chocolate milk on the Happy Meal menu board.
The McDonald’s partnership, as well as others we have with high-profile companies such as Taco Bell, Domino’s and Pizza Hut, are delivering the kind of results we envisioned years ago. These relationships put us at the table with these global foodservice leaders to ensure your perspectives are shared, and we maintain the ability to influence their positioning on key dairy trust and sales topics.
Farmers can expect to see more results from our partnership strategy and can feel good knowing that our partners share your values and priorities.