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    One Gallon At a Time

    June Dairy Month promotions step up efforts to boost sales, improve access for the needy.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    Registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, Maura Daily of Feeding America and actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson launch the Great American Milk Drive.

    Nothing says dairy like a waterskiing cow, at least in Wisconsin during June Dairy Month.

    That’s certainly the case at Albrecht’s Delafield Market, a family-owned grocer about a half-hour west of Milwaukee in Delafield, Wis., where champion cheese carver Troy Landwehr will create the aqua-centric bovine out of a 75-pound block of the state’s finest Cheddar as part of the grocer’s festivities celebrating the month honoring dairy products from across the country.

    Of course, the focus at Albrecht’s will be all things Wisconsin. “Our expectations for this year’s event are to create awareness of our expanded fine-cheese section, as well as highlight the Wisconsin products that we now carry,” says Kerry Jeanpierre, director of marketing at Albrecht’s.

    Offering support to retailers in America’s Dairyland is the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s (WMMB) “Dairy Days of Summer” campaign, now in its third year. Madison-based WMMB is targeting nearly 200 cheese shops in the state, along with some larger retailers. “June Dairy Month has a strong tradition within the state of Wisconsin,” says Marty Pullin, WMMB’s VP of retail. “It really resonates with customers here.”

    To help promote dairy products in stores, retailers can order customized promotional items, including counter card displays with recipe holders, recipe brochures, table tents, danglers and clings. Retailer efforts are supplemented by the Dairy Days of Summer website, where consumers can access up to 50 recipes that should send them to their local grocers in search of ingredients. Social media efforts include a Facebook page and an Instagram photo contest.

    Albrecht’s will feature discounts on cheese; host local cheesemakers to sample product, tell their stories and explain their processes; and make its own staff cheesemongers available to curious shoppers. “Traditionally, with school letting out and kids spending more time eating meals at home, we normally see an increase in dairy,” Jeanpierre says, “but this year, we hope to see a double-digit increase over last year’s sales with running a special ad in our weekly circular and social media support.”

    Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the nation’s other dairy stronghold will be urging retailers to wave the flag as well.

    “June is our favorite time of year, because it gives us a chance to celebrate not only the variety of dairy foods that consumers love, but also the people who make them possible,” says Jennifer Giambroni, director of communications for the South San Francisco, Calif.-based California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “Dairy is California’s No. 1 agricultural commodity. The Golden State produces more milk, ice cream, butter and Hispanic dairy products than any other state, and is the nation’s second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt.”

    CMAB will help consumers, retailers and dairy processors celebrate Dairy Month with 30 days of Tweetable tips, tools and recipes. The group will partner with food blogger Sommer Collier at aspicyperspective.com, with a featured dairy month recipe and Pinterest collaboration celebrating her best dairy recipes.

    “June marks the launch of our new website and social media platform, ‘Califarmia,’ that celebrates the farmers, the cows, the land and the foods that make up our dairy state and are brought to life by the Real California Milk and Cheese seals,” Giambroni says. “Califarmia will be in full force during the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery show in Denver in the CMAB booth, with a street of dairy processors sampling everything from butter to cheese to frozen yogurt and crema; a station with pairing ideas for California cheeses and other dairy products; and our ‘Real California’ pizza bistro showcasing how specialty cheeses can bring flavor and profits to pizza offerings in the service deli.”

    CMAB also will celebrate June Dairy Month with retail promotions around the country. “While most of our marketing efforts are directed to move California dairy products at the convenience of the retailer, we have an important coupon promotion for California and the Pacific Northwest,” Giambroni says of a campaign with Nabisco that offers a coupon for milk bearing the Real California Milk seal, with the purchase of Oreo cookies.

    Up in the Pacific Northwest, PCC Natural Markets promotes dairy all year and tries not to “pantry-load” any particular category, explains Scott Owen, grocery merchandiser for the Seattle-based retailer. “We are opening our 10th store in June, however, so there will be special promotional sales on items throughout the store, including basic basket items such as fresh dairy,” he adds. “We have strong fresh and frozen dairy sales throughout the year, supported by special offers on milk, yogurt and ice cream each month.”

    Owen expects 2014 to be a challenging year for dairy nationwide because of the drought in the Southwest. “Northwest milk producers will be tapped to respond to demand in those states where dairy production suffers from lack of water and feed, which likely will impact dairy availability, pricing and sales in PCC’s market area,” he says.

    Driving Dairy for a Cause

    While not launched specifically for June Dairy Month, a new campaign from the Washington, D.C.-based Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) is gaining momentum after an April launch and should benefit from increased attention on the category next month.

    The Great American Milk Drive allows supermarket shoppers to make donations of $1 to $5 at checkout toward gallons of milk for families in need. Funds are collected by the retailer and converted to gallons of milk that are distributed to Feeding America food banks via retail-specific coupons, direct donations by the retailer, or the National Program Fund.

    Grocers can also coordinate with Chicago-based Feeding America to have a refrigerated truck on site to deliver extra gallons of milk purchased by shoppers for donation. Additionally, retailers can offer to match all gallons donated or sold during a store event. In any case, the additional gallons mean incremental sales for retailers.

    Rallying the participation of dairy farmers, milk processors and retailers, MilkPEP offers marketing materials online that grocers can access via MilkPEP.org/drive. This campaign is part of a new marketing direction for MilkPEP, dubbed “Milk Life,” which will champion milk’s protein content, especially for breakfast eating occasions.

    MilkPEP’s Victor Zaborsky says the organization is working with retailers to customize Milk Drive campaigns for each grocer’s branding message. “It’s going to be local retailer connections that make this work, to deliver gallons to local communities,” he observes, noting that during the summer, kids often have less access to milk because school’s out and, with it, school milk at lunchtime. “What a powerful opportunity to talk to your customers about the need for nutrients.”

    In addition to incremental milk sales, Zaborsky anticipates that the campaign “will have a halo benefit beyond gallons” to other dairy products targeting wellness needs, such as yogurt.

    Regional trade groups like CMAB are pushing the program as well.

    “According to Feeding America, milk is one of the items most requested by food bank clients, yet there’s a nationwide shortage because it is rarely donated,” Giambroni says.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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