How the dairy industry proved it’s still the cream of the crop

Government-funded marketing agencies work hard to keep dairy on top.

Soy milk. Almond milk. Oat milk. Pea milk?

Two gold trophies lined up with a glass of milk and a triangle of brie cheese.

Today’s alternative milk market is overflowing as a once-niche coffee request has become the norm for many.

With all the buzz around nondairy options, you’d assume the milk market had dried up. Think again: Dairy consumption has grown steadily since 1995, surpassing 170 pounds of quarterly per capita consumption, per US Department of Agriculture data.

But how has dairy managed to fight off the competition for so long?

Butter believe it

Much of its resilience is thanks to government-supported marketing groups like Dairy Management Inc. and Fluid Milk Board that focus on promoting dairy, per Grist.

Dairy Management, which is funded by fees from dairy farmers and processors, has created some of dairy’s biggest wins:

  • The group was behind the recent viral butter board trend that swept social media.
  • It partnered with MrBeast 2x to film the YouTuber tour dairy farms and promote dairy-related competitions in “Minecraft.”
  • It worked with Taco Bell on a frozen drink that added dairy to Mountain Dew, and on a burrito with 10x the amount of cheese as a normal taco.
  • Last year, it helped Domino’s roll out its pepperoni-stuffed cheesy bread.

Plus, it’s partnered with McDonald’s since 2009, when it embedded two dairy scientists into the business to get more dairy onto the menu.

The effort paid off: Some 80% of McDonald’s menu items have dairy in them. Even more importantly, Dairy Management has backed research on why McDonald’s ice cream machines are always broken.

A moo-t point?

While Big Dairy is thrilled that we’re slathering butter on boards and eating our weight in cheese, there are still some concerns about the industry.

Globally, dairy cattle emit 231B+ pounds of methane every year. And the jury is out on how much Dairy Management’s campaigns have actually helped US dairy farmers, a demographic that’s fallen by ~75% over the last 30 years.

Plus, Big Milk’s promotions sometimes flop: Fluid Milk Board’s “wood milk” campaign with Aubrey Plaza received a formal complaint from physicians who advocate plant-based diets. Talk about crying over spilled milk.

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