There is a growing appetite for Western-style food in the international diet, and the dairy checkoff is working to put U.S. dairy on menus far beyond our borders.

cheese logoDairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, has grown demand for dairy in the U.S. thanks to our work with global foodservice leaders, such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

As a partner, we provide food scientists who work in collaboration with partners on menu development that helps keep dairy front and center. We also offer expertise in dairy nutrition and marketing insights about today’s consumer and the types of products that appeal to them.

As a result, many dairy-centric items have been added to menus of these companies over the last decade, which led us to examine if this model could work outside the U.S.

The checkoff’s priority is growing demand and trust for dairy in our country, but we also need to remember the great potential that lies elsewhere. In fact, 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of the U.S., and the opportunity is right for us. Many countries are experiencing fast-rising populations and a growing middle class that has the appetite – and purchasing ability – to add dairy to their diets.


Gauging interest

These insights led to discussions with our partners to see if there was mutual interest in exploring growth opportunities for U.S. dairy in other countries.

Yum! Brands Inc., which has a strong international footprint with 45,000 restaurants in more than 140 countries, agreed to conduct two pilots. International business is important to Yum! as about 60 percent of its profits are generated from outside the U.S.

In 2017, we launched two pilots with Pizza Hut and KFC:

  • The Pizza Hut pilot focused on restaurants in the Asia-Pacific region, which represents 16 countries and nearly 5,000 stores.

  • The KFC work focused on the Latin America and Caribbean region, which is comprised of 40 countries and territories and approximately 1,200 stores.

The Pizza Hut work showed what’s possible in the Asia-Pacific region as we launched five pizzas that feature U.S.-produced cheese. DMI and Pizza Hut also produced TV commercials that create awareness of our products by including a “U.S. Cheese” logo. Our partnership efforts contributed to increased U.S. cheese use at Pizza Hut by 29 percent in 2017 over the previous year. (Results from 2018 are not yet available.)

At KFC, a dairy checkoff food scientist worked with its team to create a pipeline of chicken and cheese ideas that will be in the marketplace later this year.

USDEC alignment

This work nicely complements the mission of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), founded by dairy farmers in 1995. USDEC has succeeded in moving more than 15 percent of U.S. production into other countries.

However, USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack sees an opportunity for more, which is why USDEC unveiled its “Next 5% Plan” in 2017. Its goal is to export 20 percent of U.S. solids by 2022, a strategy critical to dairy farmers as milk production exceeds domestic demand. USDEC has offered valuable insights and support as we work toward a common goal of growing our presence internationally.

Working with our partners in the international marketplace is new business for the checkoff, and we learned a lot from our Yum! pilots. The experience will allow us to move forward and explore other opportunities with partners to create menu offerings using U.S. dairy and surround it with messaging that builds trust in and a love for our products.

We’re building a foundation that will give U.S. dairy its rightful place at the international table.  end mark

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.

Amy Wagner
  • Amy Wagner

  • Executive Vice President
  • Global Innovation Partnerships
  • Dairy Management Inc.