A Letter from the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin's CEO, Chad Vincent:
Dear Wisconsin dairy farmers,
While the past few years have been incredibly difficult for dairy farmers, the 2020 global pandemic brought even more challenges. Through it all the team at DFW continued to represent Wisconsin dairy farmers every day, focusing on driving awareness and affinity for Wisconsin dairy. As you know, we place an emphasis on cheese (because 90% of your milk is made into cheese) and we work tirelessly on your behalf to increase distribution, trial and sales of Wisconsin cheese, domestically and abroad, and build trust for Wisconsin dairy products, our dairy farmers and dairy farming. How we accomplish that may change, especially in these times, but the strategy remains the same— simply continue to build sales and trust in Wisconsin dairy.
As the pandemic took hold, we quickly shifted and hope you saw many of the ways we created new programming to ensure we could help keep Wisconsin milk and dairy moving during the pandemic. New elements included:
We created the “Here For You” TV and digital campaign, which showcased how our dedicated farmers were still in the barns to ensure residents had fresh dairy, and supported the campaign with more ads for milk and cheese
Partnering with Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Wisconsin Grocers Association, we worked to keep dairy moving with our “Stop Retail Limits” program, getting grocery stores to stop purchase limits on dairy
We helped get dairy to the state’s 200+ food pantries via partnerships with Hunger Task Force, DATCP, Rural Mutual Insurance/Wisconsin Farm Bureau
With schools closing, we helped get milk and dairy products to kids for breakfast and lunch
As consumers rushed to buy products online, we created an e-commerce site to help drive Wisconsin cheese sales, which yielded record-breaking sales for some cheese companies
Working with industry experts, we developed a heavily-used COVID-19 resource page providing general information for dairy farmers, processors and consumers
We found multiple ways to keep Wisconsin dairy farmers in the news, creating over 125 farmer video interview segments that aired across the state. We kept Wisconsin cheese products top of mind for consumers as we gained a record amount of free publicity totaling over $40 million in value, including articles in publications like Food and Wine, the Wall Street Journal, and even a Wisconsin Cheese featured segment on The Kelly Clarkson Show. WisconsinCheese.com made it to the FIRST page of the Google search for cheese, and we supported more in-store promotions across the country than ever. The Proudly Wisconsin® Cheese badge is now on 95% of Wisconsin’s cheeses helping consumers identify cheese from our wonderful state.
During the pandemic, dairy demand has remained high and consumers continue to seek out real, nutritious dairy products to help feed their families while safely sheltering at home. In 2019, per capita dairy consumption reached 653 pounds—the highest level since 1960! And at grocery stores, since the start of the pandemic natural cheese sales have grown 27%, butter sales are up 46%, and milk sales are up 11% compared to the same time last year.
This annual report will provide a summary of your dairy checkoff organization’s activities for fiscal year 2020 (July 2019 through June 2020) by highlighting some of the programs that promote, educate and provide research for your milk.
Please contact us with any questions. We’d like to connect with you.
Chad Vincent, CEO
PS: To stay up to date on our latest promotion efforts and timely news and issues, take a moment to sign-up for our monthly farmer e-newsletter by visiting WisconsinDairy.org and clicking the link for the dairy farmer newsletter. You can also get realtime updates via the DFW Facebook page we’ve created just to keep farmers informed. Note that our consumer Facebook pages (which have about a half-million combined fans) are Wisconsin Cheese and America’s Dairyland.