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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The news of DFA’s new Dairy Plus Blends – a half lactose-free low-fat milk / half plant-based beverage concoction broke mid-July. DFA’s Live Real Farms brand website showed Lund and Byerly’s stores as the place to buy the Dairy + Almond and Dairy + Oat, but a visit to two stores on the list at the Minneapolis city limits did not have the beverages in the dairy case – yet.
Looking at the packaging, a first impression is: Wow, why doesn’t 100% milk packaging look this good. If only the agencies managing mandatory milk promotion funds and dairy-farmer-owned co-ops put as much thought into packaging and marketing 100% Real Whole Milk as they do for a diluted “innovation,” imagine what could be accomplished!
A further examination of the new Dairy Plus Blends packaging brought this thought: Why use words such as “Purely Perfect” and “Original” for a blend, when such words would seem best reserved for marketing the actual original, purely perfect 100% Real Whole Milk that the DFA member-owner dairy farmers produce and that actually results in the dairy-checkoff promotion funds.
We asked DFA for some background. In fact, we sent 11 questions to DFA and to DMI communications staffs because we were aware that DFA’s Live Real Farms brand is part of a checkoff-supported partnership between DMI and DFA to innovate products in the fluid milk space under the auspices of DMI’s Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
We first wanted to know, why the blend? Why not just create an almond FLAVORED 100% real milk beverage? Because, after all, the new Dairy Plus Blends have half the calories, but they also have half the natural nutrients and only slightly more than half the protein of real 100% dairy milk.
It seemed like value was being subtracted, not added.
We all know that almond beverage has barely any almond in it, being mostly filtered water and some additives, so it seemed like the product is an offering of diluted milk. Since we couldn’t find any on the shelf yet at Lund and Byerly’s in Minneapolis, we aren’t sure if consumers will be asked to pay more – for less.
Of course, the packaging does have more. It touches all the right chords.
DFA was kind enough to answer some of our questions, although we have heard nothing back yet from DMI.
“In an effort to meet the demands of modern consumers, Live Real Farms has launched a new beverage, Dairy Plus Blends, which combines all the nutritional benefits of real cow’s milk with the flavor and texture of alternative beverage options like almond or oat,” stated Rachel Kyllo, senior vice president of growth and innovation at Live Real Farms, a DFA-owned brand.
The reply came by email to the questions we submitted.
“All the nutritional benefits of real cow’s milk”? (The label says 5 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving, not 8, and the other naturally occurring nutrients in real cow’s milk are also reduced.)
Kyllo continues in the reply:
“Nearly 50% of consumers who buy plant-based beverages also have dairy milk in the fridge, so they’re buying both products,” she writes. “This product is not about pivoting away from dairy, instead we saw an opportunity to fulfill a need as people like almond or oat drinks for certain things and dairy for others. This product combines the two into a new, different-tasting drink that’s still ultimately rooted in real, wholesome dairy.”
We wanted to know DMI’s part in developing this concept, seeing that dairy farmers mandatorily pay a checkoff promotion fee on every 100 pounds of milk they sell.
DFA’s response stated that, “The overall product concept for Dairy Plus Blends was developed along with DMI and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Consumer focus groups were conducted with Millennial and Gen X primary shoppers. Overall feedback was positive regarding the product concept, taste and packaging.”
We wanted to know more about how the product will roll out.
“Dairy Plus Blends are now being test marketed at more than 300 retail stores in Minnesota,” the DFA response stated. “If successful in test, the brand plans to roll out more broadly across the United States, beginning in the Central and Northeastern regions of the U.S.”
DFA has already been bottling plant-based alternatives in copacking arrangements in the Midwest. And, the Cumberland Dairy plant in New Jersey, formerly owned by the Catalana family, and purchased in 2017 by DFA, bottles plant-based beverages also as the Catalanas still operate the plant and retained ownership of their plant-based beverage investments.
We also wanted to know how the real dairy milk that makes up 50% of the new Dairy Plus Blends is classified for Federal Order pricing, but that question was not answered.
And, we wanted to know if DFA in its “partnership to innovate” with DMI has any plans to innovate the marketing and packaging of 100% Real Whole Dairy Milk in such a pleasing and attractive way as they have with the Dairy Plus Blends? That question was not answered either.
We also wondered if this “blend” will pull dairy milk drinkers as they hear all this talk about becoming “flexitarian” – cutting back on foods that come from cows and adding more foods that come from plants to, you know, save the earth and all.
Along these lines, DFA’s response attributed to Kyllo at Live Real Farms was: “We’re confident milk will continue to have a place on family tables for years to come, but we also understand and appreciate that consumers have choices in what they drink today. We think Dairy Plus Blends offer a refreshing taste experience and provides a unique way to get dairy in front of consumers who might explore other beverage options.”
We wonder if this is an invitation by a dairy-farmer-owned cooperative, funded in part by dairy-farmer-checkoff to lure consumers into experimenting with something new instead of dairy milk or will it appeal to people who have no intention of drinking 100% real dairy milk? It’s hard to tell, but it’s worth watching.
Some advocates of this kind of experimentation say that the fluid milk market needs more lactose-free choices. There are already lactose-free milk choices, there is also A2 for other types of digestive sensitivity, and there’s one thing everyone seems to be forgetting. Whole milk is more easily digested by people with these sensitivities. There’s actual real proof of this now, not just personal experience, but that’s a story for another day.
In this time of continued fluid milk sales losses, farm milk prices below breakeven for five years and dairy farms exiting the business, why does the dairy-checkoff not re-brand and re-market and innovate the packaging and promotion of Real 100% Whole Milk that is virtually 97% fat-free and loaded with natural goodness? Why not actually partner to innovate the brand-promotion MILK? What a novel idea!
Oops, that’s right. I think USDA lawyers would have a problem with that.
One thing that is impressive coming out of Live Real Farms is the Wholesome Smoothie line of Whole Milk yogurt smoothies last year. DFA says it plans to develop “a robust product line with the launch of additional, innovative products over the next three to five years.”
GORDONVILLE, Pa. — “You are hearing the negatives, not the positives,” said Marilyn Hershey about the dairy checkoff during a meeting requested by Lancaster County dairy farmers hosted here in Gordonville on Friday, April 12.
Hershey has a dairy farm with her husband Duane in neighboring Chester County, and she serves as the national chairperson of the Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) board.
Approximately 12 of the expected 30 farmers attended the meeting with a range of topics on their minds, in particular fluid milk sales and whole milk promotion.
Hershey got involved in dairy promotion eight years ago, serving first on the National Dairy Board, then becoming vice chair of DMI, the board that combines various boards, before becoming chairperson two years ago. National Dairy Board has term limits, whereas the DMI board does not.
Accompanying Hershey for the discussion was Harold Shaulis of Somerset County, who served 25 years on state, regional and national checkoff boards. Having sold his cows, he is no longer a board member, but helps with promotion.
Shaulis said the bottom line in dairy promotion is to sell more milk. He said total per-capita dairy consumption has grown since the 1980s, even though fluid milk sales have declined (Fig. 1). He also talked about trade missions to China and Southeast Asia.
“We are in a global market. One out of six loads of milk a day is exported, and we want to see that grow,” he said.
In addition to exports, Hershey said consumers are eating more dairy products, overall. “The National Dairy Council has funded 20 years of research on butter to get it back in the mainstream. We got butter into McDonalds in place of margarine, and 80% of McDonalds’ sales have a dairy ingredient in them,” she explained as an example of DMI’s partnership strategy.
By email, after the meeting, Hershey furnished the previously requested list of National Dairy Council research we will explore for a future edition.
However, a perusal of the science summaries section of National Dairy Council’s own website, where a few summaries are available, each download is prefaced with these words: “Low-fat and fat-free dairy foods are part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and American Heart Association (AHA) dietary recommendations. You can download our full report, which shows further support for consuming low-fat or fat-free dairy foods as recommended in the 2015 DGA.”
The website also talks about “nourishing communities,” about farm animal care and sustainability measures (FARM program) adopted and funded by checkoff dollars that tie in with the low-fat and fat-free dietary theme.
Undeniably Dairy replaces Real Seal
Cross-referenced to the National Dairy Council website is the Undeniably Dairy campaign. Hershey said this promotes positive messages to targeted audiences with school curriculum and through social media.
At this website, the “nourishing communities” theme continues as well as the reinforcement of low-fat and fat-free dairy.
Hershey provided a handout on Undeniably Dairy and said: “We are targeting the ‘conflicted health seeker’ with four messages: Responsibly produced, nutrient rich, locally driven, real enjoyment.”
“We want Undeniably Dairy to replace the Real Seal. That is the goal,” said Hershey. “We are combining MilkPEP’s ‘Love What’s Real’ campaign with our Undeniably Dairy campaign.”
The Real Seal was previously owned by UDIA / DMI, but it is now the property of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). The Real Seal can only be used on milk and dairy products that contain real dairy ingredients, no imitation dairy ingredients and are made with milk produced and processed in the USA.
This posed a problem for DMI, since importers must pay a small checkoff fee for dairy promotion, so the dairy checkoff stopped promoting the Real Seal and came up with Undeniably Dairy two years ago.
Hershey fielded questions about the requirements for using the Undeniably Dairy Seal. How might those requirements differ from the Real Seal? She did not have the specifics and promised to get back with those details.
“We don’t just have a foot in the schools, we are IN the schools,” said Hershey. “Companies would kill to have what we have in the schools.”
The Northeast program is strong because there are seven football teams here so the program can affect a large number of kids in the Northeast, according to Hershey.
Asked what is on the breakfast carts, she said: “Yogurt, cheese, milk, fruits and vegetables, and some have smoothie machines.”
She said the Grab N Go Breakfast Carts have ice packs to keep the milk cold. She also stated that every dime ADA Northeast sends in to GENYOUth is returned to the Northeast region to fund FUTP60 and breakfast carts as well as other foodservice equipment grants to schools. (See ADA Northeast 2017 Annual Report here)
“We buy the carts, and we have multi-year contracts with the schools to keep milk on the carts,” said Hershey.
Acknowledging that the milk provided is fat-free or 1%, she stressed that, “As independent dairy producers, we can advocate for whole milk, but DMI, FUTP60, and GENYOUth cannot influence policy,” she explained.
“You have to go to your co-ops and Farm Bureau and G.T. Thompson to get that done. We can’t do it,” said Shaulis.
Shalis said the FUTP60 breakfast carts “absolutely sell more milk.”
He reported that 95,000 more children participated in school breakfast in 2018 compared with 2017. “That’s 95,000 more servings of milk since they have to take a milk.”
“But do they like it?” asked one farmer.
Hershey quickly replied: “It doesn’t matter if it’s 3%, 1%, 2% or 0%, they are getting the same nutrition. Even though they are not getting the fat content, they are getting the nutrients.”
A discussion of fat-soluble nutrients and bioavailability of nutrients ensued.
When asked if DMI, yes or no, believes 1% and fat-free milk are equal to whole milk, Hershey said: “We have no control over what we serve or promote in the schools. With that carton of 1% milk, we want children to know they are getting the nutrition, we can’t address the fat.”
When asked what DMI can do about 20-plus years of having the low-fat diet-heart hypothesis “forced on us,” Hershey’s reply was that, “It took 20 years to get here and it will take a while to turn it around.”
She informed the group that the American Heart Association has already written a letter to Congress signed by 18 health organizations protesting the House Bill 832: Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act.
“They are against the bill, so there is a battle in front of us,” Hershey said.
On the positive side, Hershey said farmers can thank Dr. Greg Miller, global chief science officer for the National Dairy Council, for his use of the research on full-fat dairy. She also said dairy farmers can thank the dairy scientists in each partnering company’s kitchen as DMI develops new products for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Domino’s and McDonalds.
Beyond the fat
“Lots of things with school milk need changing, not just the fat,” said Hershey as she dove into the innovations side of DMI’s strategy.
“I appreciate that the fat content is your focus, but it has to be the right temperature, delivered correctly and packaged correctly,” she said. “We are working on this with processors.”
She said that giving high school teens the same packaging as kindergarteners doesn’t fly. She cited research showing that when schools switched from paper cartons to plastic bottles, milk sales grew by double-digits in the first year, and waste was down by 20% in those schools.
“School milk got a lot of discussion there,” Hershey reported. “But, let’s not get lost in this whole milk point. There is a huge price difference (between whole milk and 1% or fat-free), and school contracts are lost by one-quarter of a penny per carton.”
Some of the farmers in attendance said that didn’t matter unless other beverages can compete for those contracts. The bottom line would be whole milk going into the schools.
Time was also spent talking about the trend toward smaller containers and ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization. “All the milk in Europe is UHT, and it tastes good,” said Shaulis.
Some of the farmers in the room disagreed, sharing their concerns that UHT leaves a less valuable product nutritionally and in flavor. To which, Hershey and Shaulis said the entire food industry is going that way, and there’s nothing they can do about that.
“What we have to try to do (in promotion) is stand by the value milk has and promote what we are able to promote,” said Hershey.
She shared figures showing that overall fluid milk sales represent 18% of total milk production: “79% of consumers are not eating meals as a family. Everything is grab and go. That’s where we need to be,” said Hershey. “We have to meet consumers where they are with our innovation and packaging.”
Citing fairlife, she explained how “that product came through our fluid milk committee, and now others are following. Darigold has a new high protein ‘fitness’ drink. DFA has a couple things coming out under the Live Real Farms label. Kroger and Shamrock are coming out with beverages – all this year. These products have a lot of milk in them,” she said.
Farmers learned that these new products are not Class I products. They are largely Class II.
“We partner on these products,” said Hershey. “We give money for research. They do the product research. We only contribute to the research to try and get the innovation out there in order to survive.”
“We gave up on selling milk. ‘Got Milk’ did nothing,” Shaulis added. “Generic milk advertising doesn’t work.”
Farmers wanted more statistics to back up this claim, and they referenced the overwhelming reaction among consumers to the 97 Milk Baleboards and campaign done voluntarily at a grassroots level, starting in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania with signs and baleboards now in five states and spreading nationwide and internationally through the website and social media.
Hershey did share the news that retail data show whole milk sales grew more in the first quarter of 2019 than the already higher whole milk sales in 2018.
She later sent an email stating that in the Northeast, retail sales data show 40% of fluid milk sales are coming from whole milk sales. She also reported that, nationally, whole milk sales as a percentage of total fluid milk sales rose from 29.7% in 2014 to 39.3% currently.
As one farmer noted, “DMI has done a good job promoting cheese, what we are asking for is more focus on fluid whole milk than we are seeing now.”
Hershey had explained that the national checkoff boards are represented geographically by milk volume.
Some wondered if making the checkoff voluntary would allow them to put money into promoting local whole milk, and to take on the imitations head-to-head without the restrictive oversight of USDA.
“It’s all or nothing. That’s how the whole world of checkoff programs work,” said Shaulis. “These farmers on the board look at every penny spent, and they look at what is best for the industry while regions look at what is best for their region.”
‘Let’s have dairy-based protein in 3-D printers and whatever comes next.’
Schools represent more consumer touch-points for milk than all other sectors, combined
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Friday, March 22, 2019
CHICAGO, Ill. — The fluid milk category is receiving much attention after a decade of rapid declines in sales. What does the CEO of the national dairy checkoff organization DMI have to say on the topic?
For starters, he says the dairy industry should stop blaming the alternative beverages and start looking at its own failures.
In his CEO’s Report, delivered at the February DMI board meeting, DMI CEO Tom Gallagher addressed the fluid milk question. While no press release or public statement or copy of the CEO’s Report was provided to Farmshine, a video was posted to the private Dairy Checkoff facebook page and was subsequently provided to Farmshine by a dairy farmer participant.
Since Gallagher states while giving his “CEO’s Report” that this information is ‘public’ and that “we want you to take pictures of it and share it, do what you want with it, it’s yours.” So we are sharing with Farmshine readers what was shared with us by dairy farmers what was shared with dairy farmers via the closed facebook group.
Gallagher began his report talking about farmer engagement.
“The power of the industry is within the industry, it’s the farmer,” he said. “We can commit to activating the dairy farmer at the local and national levels, then we can have a big voice, especially, on what it is that your checkoff really does.”
He talked about the changing world of consumer influence, saying that, “When you think about the things we need to do, more and more they are moving away from the things we are familiar with.”
From there, he referenced a presenter for the following day who would be talking about the future, about 3-D printing of food.
“Well, it’s not the future because you can go on Amazon today, and for $2000, buy a 3-D printer that will print dessert for you,” said Gallagher. “We think, why would people eat that? They don’t like processed foods. But the people who make those and the food production people — and hopefully dairy protein will be in that, not plant protein — they don’t need the 90% of people consuming your product. They just need 5 or 10 or 4% to have a very successful business. If that’s what people are going to be doing, we need to be there.”
Gallagher announced that DMI will be buying a 3-D printer, a few of them. “We’ll buy one, and we’re going to figure it out and we’ll figure out how to approach these 3-D printing companies with dairy-based proteins in foods to be used in them,” he said. “We can’t afford to be nickeled and dimed with 4% of consumers here and 5% there.”
He went on to observe that just 4% of consumers identify as vegan and that vegetarians are also a small number. “What is really driving plant-based foods and beverages is not predominantly the vegan movement, it’s because these companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars and are getting really good at taste, are phenomenal at marketing and great at innovation.”
He referenced diets that promote being vegan or vegetarian before 6:00 and other consumer trends.
“I think our goal is it is not either-or, it can be both… We have to be honest with ourselves, there will be plant-based beverages out there, and people will buy them, and they will gain share, not because people are vegan or concerned about sustainability… it’s because the food and beverage companies are doing a great job at what they do,” Gallagher said.
“If we do the same job in the dairy industry, we will be just fine. But if we sit back like we did with fluid milk, we will be where we are with fluid milk,” he added.
Referencing a report in the 1980s before the checkoff was authorized by Congress, Gallagher said: “That report laid out everything that needed to be done for fluid milk, and that same report would be valid today because none of it was done — not until fairlife and a few other things.”
“It’s not that the bad guy came and took it (fluid milk sales), it’s that us, the dairy industry collectively, did not keep growing and innovating and doing what we should do,” said Gallagher from a marketing, not policy, standpoint. “Instead of getting in a lather about plant-based food companies, let’s do what we are supposed to be doing as an industry.
“Let’s do marketing. Let’s do innovation. Let’s have dairy-based protein in 3-D printers and whatever comes next. That’s were we need to be,” said Gallagher. When it comes to policy, nutritional values and sustainability discussions, that’s another discussion we need to enter into.”
In the breakdown on sales, he said foodservice milk is up slightly even though retail and other sectors are down. The data was by servings, and he explained how sales figures are pieced together and how program evaluations fit into those.
He also talked about a meeting DMI had with the top persons from the five top coops for packaged fluid milk salesn — DFA, Select, Prairie Farms, Darigold and Maryland-Virginia — along with Jim Mulhern of NMPF, Tom Vilsack of USDEC, Rick Naczi of ADANE, Marilyn Hershey, president of DMI, along with a former CEO of fairlife with some insights.
“We came out of that meeting as positive about fluid milk as ever on how the industry can work together to change the trajectory,” said Gallagher, explaining that they looked at how much of fluid consumption is really pushed down into Class II, and to see if getting and including that number, what that would do to the per-capita fluid milk consumption numbers.
“The group focused on kids. Kids is the deal — at 6 billion containers a year, when everything else is 5.3 billion,” said Gallagher. “So while schools only represent 7.7% of consumption, it represents more touch-points with consumers than everything else combined. So, they, on their own, quickly came to the conclusion that we have got to deal with the kids for a variety of reasons — sales and trust. And they asked DMI to put together a portfolio of products for kids inside of schools and outside of schools. What are the niches that need to be filled? What’s the right packaging? What needs to be in the bottle? And we can do that,” he said.
Depending on the results of the next meeting, the circle could be expanded. And regulatory, legislative and standards of identity issues were brought up that DMI can’t be involved in, but NMPF can.
Author’s note:Meanwhile, all of those kids in school, those 6 billion touch-points for milk every year that surpass all other touch-points for milk, combined, are forced to consume (or discard) fat-free or 1% milk. The simple answer would be to give them whole milk that tastes good so they know what milk is vs. trying to re-invent the wheel. As an industry, we can’t know what the per-capita fluid milk consumption figures would look like today if the 60 billion touch-points over the past 10 years had been permitted by the government to consume whole milk. Before reinventing some pre-competitive proprietary wheel, shouldn’t those touch-points (schoolkids) have an opportunity to try real whole milk?
Dietary Guidelines among the factors plunging us deeper.
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Friday, March 15, 2019
Many are confused about what the dairy checkoff organizations can and can’t do. There is nothing in the Order that says the checkoff programs must promote according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines.
So where did this idea come from and how does it look today and what might it look like tomorrow?
To stave off challenges brought by folks questioning the government’s authority to require farmers to fund private speech, USDA defended the checkoff programs as “government speech,” which is a protected form of speech. This was explained in more detail in part 6 of the GENYOUth series in the February 22, 2019 edition of Farmshine.
Here’s why it matters. Government speech on dietary concerns has become increasingly restrictive, and by the looks of the recently-named USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it could get worse.
With so much control by USDA, how will dairy farmers fully defend their position — even when rigorous science is on their side? They can’t count on government speech because rigorous science is all too often ignored by government bureaucracies and the advisory committees with links to foundations and corporations that have other ideas for that money.
The proof is in the long trend of using mandatory farmer funds to promote the low-fat / fat-free government speech that has become their own undoing, not to mention detrimental to health, especially for our children.
Here’s a glimpse of where we are headed with this dairy-farmer-funded government speech.
Separation of Church and State, for example, seems to apply only when convenient for politicians. Could a religious doctrine of animal rights and vegan diets become even more embedded into the government Dietary Guidelines that dairy farmers are forced to promote?
I was told by more than a few people that Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is a scientist and would not allow this to happen to his formation of the current committee, but the composition of this Dietary Guidelines Committee takes us further down this wrong road.
In fact, could the U.S. guidelines be on the brink of cowtowing even more toward the Adventist-funded EAT Lancet Global Food Transformation Agenda?
Some scoff, saying not to take this report seriously because it’s not gaining traction.
Unfortunately, they are not paying attention. This track has been laid and the wheels are in motion, and plenty of bargains with the devil have been made behind closed doors.
Our dietary choices are poised to be further corrupted. Just writing about these topics makes my blood boil and causes me to second-guess my own sanity.
But folks, this is real.
We can be proactive, or we can sit with our heads in the sand and be run over. This is happening, and our own leaders don’t want us to see it, hear it or speak of it.
People can criticize the series of articles on this topic all they want, but the truth is that alliances formed — most notably over the past 10 years — are poised to plunge us even further into dietary guidelines, labeling, look-alikes and standards that have the potential to remove even more animal-based dietary choices from Americans — especially our children.
As an ag journalist, I’m appalled.
As a grandmother, watching the effect it is having and will have on our children, I am angry.
What I see coming is a dietary future that will be a mix of fake proteins, grains, legumes, vitamin/pharmaceutical cocktails and high fructose corn syrup fashioned into whatever you want it to be or taste like from your 3-D printer.(Even the venerable Dr. Kohl talked about it at a farmer meeting and how much this “spooks” him out.)
In the beginning, these 3-D printer options may use dairy or meat proteins, but they are set up for not just plant-based proteins, and what some in the industry call “dairy-based” proteins. What does ‘dairy-based’ mean? (more on that later). The 3-D printer technology is the handmaiden of the gene-edited cell cultured fake-meat proteins and the gene-altered yeast sourced by USDA to a company growing them (with the commercial assistance of ADM) in fermentation vats to produce fake-dairy protein without the cow.
His name is Dr. Joan Sabate, and he was placed on the committee in this role instead of Stanford professor John Ioannidis — despite over 1000 letters supporting Ioannidis being sent to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue by the public that included medical doctors, dieticians, veterinarians and other experts, including specialists in oncology, heart disease and endocrinology (diabetes, etc).
Not only is Sabate Chair of the Nutrition Department at the Seventh Day Adventist institution, Loma Linda University, he also constructed the vegan food pyramid and co-authored a book on Adventist doctrine for global change, called “The Global Influence of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Diet” where this playbook is well laid out.
It’s pretty clear that Sabate has been given an influential position and has spent his career promoting a religious-dietary-doctrine with undue influence now in a government dietary advisory capacity.
Also, an article co-authored by Sabate in 2011 talked of how the Adventists praised the 2010 dietary guidelines that took the destruction of school lunch under the Obama / Vilsack administration to new lows. That report said the 2010 Guidelines “confirmed” the findings of Sabate’s predecessor at Loma Linda University.
Last Friday, while doing a Rural Route Radio show as a guest of Trent Loos, I learned from him a piece I did not know — that the Wellcome Trust, which wrote the check for the EAT Lancet Commission, is the trust of Henry Wellcome. He passed away in the 1930s, and was the founder of what is today a Big Pharma player.
Remove whole milk, full-fat dairy and red meat from our diets and we’ll all need more drugs for a panacea of ills. Yes, the EAT Lancet report calls for just a little over one ounce of meat per day, the equivalent of one 8-oz cup of milk per day and 1 and ½ eggs per week. See the picture?
Our kids are already drinking fat free or 1% milk in school, eating fake butter, skim processed cheese, non-fat yogurt (if you can call it yogurt) and a host of other real-food-replacements when they should receive the best nature has to offer.
Yes, Edelman is the same PR and Marketing firm that has worked for dairy checkoff for 20 years and increasingly in the past 10 years and was instrumental in the GENYOUth formation (2010), a non-profit with a pretty face that is also tied in with the Clinton Foundation of the same persuasion, and the Obama / Vilsack administration’s heavy hit to school milk and the school lunch program parameters, which also happened in 2010.
This really is one big thing connected, moving gradually to where we are today amid several key converging factors.
Call me “negative” or “unhinged” or whatever name you have for this investigative reporting, that is your choice. Meanwhile, some of our own organizations are tied in, and it is disturbing.
The template is set for a sustainability footprint that is focused on streamlining the food industry with rapid consolidation to get the WWF stamp of approval for the largest and most vertically integrated animal food producers.
Recently, other organizations that challenge these institutions have put farmers on a new HSUS ag-advisory board to try to influence that particular anti-animal organization to get a similar stamp of approval for small farms and regional food supplies.
Meanwhile, the anti-animal heavy-hitters are laughing all the way to the bank as their strategy as kindred NGOs is to divide and conquer — while raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Their strategy is working because there is division. Not because I’m writing about it, but because none of our organizations and institutions have the backbone to stand up for what’s right.
The mode of operation is to work quietly through alliances and advisory boards and non-profits — to paint a pretty face on these alliances, hoping to come out of the internal fray with a few crumbs for a surviving streamlined industry.
If you dare question these alliances or dig into them, you are attacked.
You must remain politically correct at all costs! Don’t touch the third rail! Shame on anyone who dare question! If you question, dig, report, enlighten (all while said organizations refuse to answer interview questions), then you are “negative”, “unhinged”, “divisive”, “harming farmers” and a journalist who has “an agenda” or is just trying to “sell newspapers.”
Not in the least. I would much rather be spending all of my time writing the positive stories, and I have quite a few lined up! But I can’t discard the concern for the people whose stories I’ve written as I watch one after another sell their cows and/or their farms, and as I’m deeply concerned for the health and well-being of our children.
It’s time for Congress to revisit the law authorizing the dairy checkoff. I don’t say this lightly. The dairy checkoff budget dwarfs all others at $350 million a year. That’s a huge budget of dairy farmer funding under increasingly detrimental USDA control.
Maybe government speech is “protected” under the law, but the law should no longer require dairy farmers to pay for it.
BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — In Part 7 last week, we looked at some of the questions still unanswered by DMI regarding GENYOUth. As noted, a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) created in 2009-10 and signed in 2011 by USDA, National Dairy Council and the NFL has not been provided.
Data requested on the “before” and “after” purchases of dairy by FUTP60 schools has also not been provided.
The question about total funds provided by DMI in addition to what appears on the GENYOUth 990 form has also not been answered. However, the 2016-17 DMI audit reflects amounts that are almost double what appears on the GENYOUth 990s.
And the question about Edelman’s role in the formation of GENYOUth and any knowledge or concern DMI may have about Edelman’s role in the EAT FReSH Initiative was simply not been acknowledged, let alone answered.
This is the concern that is perhaps most vexing, and here is the what the public record tells us.
Richard Edelman sits on the board of GENYOUth and as previously mentioned, he is credited with recruiting GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick in a marketing publication’s story about her taking this position.
The Edelman firm is listed as a corporate sponsor of GENYOUth, including the board seat held by Richard Edelman, but the firm is not listed as a donor of funds on the GENYOUth IRS 990s, except that Richard Edelman, himself, is on record donating $25,000 in both 2016 and 2017.
Edelman is widely considered the world’s largest and leading public relations and marketing firm with offices worldwide. Based in Chicago, the firm, according to the writings of Richard Edelman himself, has been involved in work for DMI (Dairy Checkoff) for 20 years.
The firm is listed among the 41 corporate sponsors (logos pictured below) of the EAT FReSH Initiative. This Initiative is an extension of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
And, in Edelman’s own words in a May 2018 blog post, “Edelman has partnered with FReSH to help accelerate transformational change in global food systems.”
As reported in Part 6 of this series, Danone and PepsiCo are just two companies among the 41 corporate sponsors that are Edelman clients, and both companies planned new plant-based non-dairy “look-alike” product launches to coincide with the EAT Lancet Commission and EAT FReSH launch in the first quarter of 2019.
Edelman is best known for its annual Edelman Trust Barometer shared with the world’s leading business CEOs each year at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland.
Purpose driven marketing is their thing.
DMI will not acknowledge our question about Edelman’s role in the formation of GENYOUth. Our question about the link between Edelman and the marketing of the EAT FReSH Initiative was also not acknowledged.
However, on the secret Dairy Checkoff facebook page, we have received screenshot copies of answers given to farmers who have asked the checkoff staff questions about this. In those one-to-one facebook group replies, DMI staff are stating on the one hand that “Edelman is not involved in EAT Lancet.” On the other hand, stating that, “we should be glad we have someone representing us there.”
So which is it? And who is representing whom?
What we found in the public record is that Edelman is not, technically, on record as “the” marketing firm for EAT Lancet. The situation is far more subtle, and clever, because Edelman “loaned” their Amersterdam office account director, Lara Luten, to the EAT FReSH initiative for at least one year prior to 2019’s EAT FReSH launch.
A “secondment” is defined as the detachment of a person from his or her regular organization for temporary assignment elsewhere.
In the blog post, Richard Edelman asks the firm’s Amsterdam account director on loan to the EAT FReSH Initiative what has been most interesting in her work with FReSH.
Her answer: “The current (2018) preparations for the EAT Stockholm Food Forum and the EAT Lancet Commission Report. But also: Setting a basis for communications for the FReSH team.”
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?
He asks her what she has learned from this partnership that can be applied to other work, and Luten replies: “Working in a pre-competitive environment on a project (EAT FReSH) that is driving impact by leading the change. I’m also gaining in-depth knowledge about the food system (its topics and stakeholders) that will definitely be useful for other projects.”
So not only was the Edelman firm involved, but their involvement is “leading the change.”
What is the WBCSD? It is described at its website as “ a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business.” It is made up of the 41 corporations, including the Edelman firm, that have launched the EAT FReSH Initiative.
In her new employment as WBCSD communications manager, Luten now carries on the public relations, social strategies and marketing she began planning, organizing and laying the groundwork for during the time that she was employed by Edelman “on secondment” to this 41-corporation group now launching the EAT FReSH Initiative.
It all fits together with how Edelman does business. This is not in any way a question of ethics. Plenty of marketing agencies work for competing accounts in the world of advertising and public relations. There’s nothing new about that.
There’s also nothing new about this concept of working in “pre-competitive” environments where products and marketing are developed in a way that all corporations involved can utilize in their own new product campaigns.
This is, in fact, a signature way that DMI has also functioned over the past 10 years. In addition to GENYOUth, the Sustainability and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy began similarly with an MOU between DMI and the USDA, and it also includes the participation of dairy processors in a pre-competitive environment to develop and initiate innovations and sustainability measures. One example to come out of that pre-competitive environment is the innovation of ultrafiltered milk known as fairlife. Another example is the F.A.R.M program.
The goal of these pre-competitive collaborations is to give all corporate participants something they can use in a way that takes away a competitive edge.
What is concerning for dairy producers — who are mandatorily funding DMI — is that this has folded dairy promotion into a broader setting of corporations working in pre-competitive environments to pass back through the supply chain requirements about how things are done on the farm.
Toward that end, Edelman has actually played an even larger role in DMI projects over the past 20 years and especially in the past two years in coming up with the design of the Undeniably Dairy campaign. Again, purpose-driven marketing is an Edelman specialty.
And it seems noble to drive marketing with a social purpose. More companies today engage in purpose-driven social marketing, aiming to win consumers by showing what they are doing to address social concerns, such as the environment. In fact, they create problems to fit the solution they want to market.
In its own way, each corporate member of pre-competitive collaborations then capitalizes by introducing products that solve a real or “created” need in this realm of social purpose.
Here’s where it gets cloudy for dairy farmers. The government mandates that dairy farmers pay 15 cents per hundredweight for education, research and promotion. DMI administrates the use of the national portion of these funds and even sets the direction for regional funds — under the ever-more-micro-managing-oversight of USDA via two key MOU’s (GENYOUth and Innovation and Sustainability Center for U.S. Dairy).
DMI’s association with Edelman over 20 years has increased its alignment with purpose-driven marketing via pre-competitive environments with food supply chain corporations. On its surface, that doesn’t sound so bad.
But here’s another way to look at this trend. As one creative strategist, Zac Martin, stated recently in his opinion piece for an ad agency publication, “purpose” was 2018’s “most dangerous word.”
Martin defines “purpose” in marketing in the context of “brands aligning with and promoting social causes, almost always seemingly out of nowhere.”
This is most definitely the road we are on. We are being told that consumers don’t want to know what you know, they want to know that you care. We are told that consumers make brand choices based on the “why” not the “what.”
Some of this comes from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer and other research where consumers are surveyed about who they trust in their buying decisions.
But what information do consumers actually use when they buy? Price, flavor, freshness, perceived nutrition.
Are we part of the problem? Are these alignments helping or hurting the promotion of actual milk?
Think about this. EAT FReSH is just the newest and most transformational example of how a “why” – climate change and the environment – are being used to sell new food products based on their fulfillment of a created “why”.
What could be more perfect than to use unsubstantiated “science” to make untrue claims about certain food and agriculture impacts and then use that as a selling point for a whole new product answering the “why” that has first been created?
The EAT Foundation even has the new “planetary” diet patterns outlined (1 cup of dairy equivalent a day, a little over 1 ounce of meat/poultry/fish a day, and only 3 ounces of red meat per week, and 1 ½ eggs per week for examples). Within that context, the participating corporations are now coming out — simultaneously — with a whole bevy of new beverages, snacks and staples that do not contain any animal protein. Protein is played down and favors plant protein (incomplete proteins) and refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup is just fine.
They’ve created the “why” (planetary boundaries that they have set) and now they can sell consumers the products (fake meat and fake dairy) that fulfill that social planetary purpose that they themselves have convinced us we need!
Looking at this ‘social purpose’ trend in marketing, Zac Martin states the following: “The fad (of purpose-driven marketing) seems to driven by the likes of Simon Sinek, who notoriously said: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ But Simon is wrong. It’s a claim made without substantiation.”
In fact, Martin observes that purpose-driven marketing to is made up of “feel good” stuff that promotes and aligns with social causes while doing little as a sound marketing strategy.
Undeniably Dairy feels good. Telling our “why” feels good. Do consumers need to understand more about what happens on a dairy farm, why we do what we do? Of course! But this does not substitute for sound marketing of the dairy farmers’ product: Milk.
Martin says this trend amounts to “brand noise” that is “a sign of desperation”.
He defines purpose-driven social marketing as “fabricating an experiment, presenting pseudoscience disguised as research,” and all the while appearing “authentic.” (Think EAT FReSH).
He makes the point that when everyone is zigging, maybe it’s time to zag. I could not have said it better myself.
This series of articles is not meant to question the good intent of good people doing what they believe is good for their industry. Rather, the point is to show the direction dairy promotion dollars have taken since 2009 and some of the guiding principles that are not working.
Going back to part one, the graph showing fluid milk consumption trends could not be more clear. What we are doing is not working — unless the objective is to sell less fresh fluid milk, especially whole milk, that returns the highest value to farmers and keeps dairy farms relevant in communities, especially in the eastern states, while selling more global dairy commodities, at cheaper prices, fueling rapid expansion of more consolidated and integrated dairy structures in the western states.
Dairy Checkoff has been aligning more closely to USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines when nothing in the Congressional Act establishing the Checkoff states that it must. Dairy Checkoff has been aligning in pre-competitive environments with corporations that turn around and push us right out of the dairy case with non-dairy alternatives that fill a social purpose of their own creation.
Dairy Checkoff has partnered with fast food chains that help sell more cheese, and yet one pre-emptive cheese company is a primary beneficiary, and rapid milk production expansion in certain states follows with that.
Dairy Checkoff has bought-in to the idea that rapid expansion of exports is a primary mission, when that actually lowers the farm-level milk price because the focus of those sales is the lower-value commodity dairy.
Meanwhile, the marketing largely ignores the best selling point we have: Nutrition and Flavor in the domestic market.
Now the pressure is on for Dairy Checkoff promotion to draw more farms into “telling our story.” As noble and wonderful as this may be, what’s the 15 cents doing to actually sell milk, to win back the milk market we’ve been losing in the process?
We have a simple product. It doesn’t have a list of additives to make it look, feel and sort of taste like milk, it IS milk.
We have a nutritious product. Nothing else on the market comes close.
We have a delicious product. But we have to market the tasteless version and train our children to dislike milk by doing so… because somehow we have ended up in a place where the government’s dietary police are in charge, and we either must obey, or we just think we must.
Telling consumers our ‘why’ can be a good thing, but with 15 cents per hundredweight forked over by farmers by government mandate, the question remains, what is being done to truly sell the “what” — the actual milk that comes out of the cow because of all the good things farmers do.
Consumers don’t know squat about milk. That’s being proven over and over again, despite over $300 million a year in mandatory promotion funds deducted from farmer milk checks for promotion.
We’ve been zigging with the ziggers long enough.
Maybe it’s time to zag.
(The graph below shows us what has happened to per capita real fluid milk consumption since 2010 while we increased the amount of zigging, suggesting it is time to zag.)
Delays, diversions and disregard for specific questions keep the investigation rolling.
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, March 1, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa.– The public record is clear on Dairy Checkoff alliances of the past decade through GENYOUth, and the financial side of the picture is coming into even sharper focus.
Meanwhile, important questions were only partially answered last week while other questions were outright ignored.
This is especially true about the questions concerning the firm doing public relations and marketing for DMI over the past 20 years.
Instead of answering those questions, we saw diversions. We saw DMI chairperson Marilyn Hershey, in her letter on page 17 of Farmshine last week (and at the end of the article at this link, here), give Dairy Checkoff the credit for changing the conversation on milk fat! Hard to believe!
While it is true that Dairy Checkoff has moved a bit in that direction since 2014, the change in the conversation can be attributed to independent science writer Nina Teicholz and her 10 years of exhaustive investigation that led to her book The Big Fat Surprise, which led to the interest of Time magazine on this topic.
As for our unanswered questions? We are still waiting.
Last week, we referenced some of the questions that had been sent to DMI three weeks ago. One being the MOU between USDA, Dairy Checkoff and NFL.
In previous installments of this series, we had mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by USDA and other government agencies, along with GENYOUth, National Dairy Council (NDC / DMI) and National Football League (NFL), and we included a photo of the original 2011 signing found on a Flickr photo stream link at a USDA blog post that year.
There had been no press release about this development at the time. But that’s water under the bridge.
After examining the public record, we reached out to DMI via chairperson Marilyn Hershey, and her letter, of course, was published on page 17 in the Feb 22 edition of Farmshine and at the end of the report at this link. Instead of answering each of our questions, she chose the option of writing a letter for publication, unedited, in Farmshine.
Most of the questions, however, remain unanswered. While there are vague glimpses here and there of something to hang a hat on, it is the outright silence on some questions that is so telling.
First and foremost, we have not received the requested full copy of the MOU. Our request to DMI was ignored. Our request to USDA has been referred to Public Affairs. And we wait.
Hershey maintained in an email response that the MOU is nonbinding and has nothing to do with how milk is promoted in school. In her letter, she said,“MilkPEP and DMI programs are limited to promoting school milk as governed by the Dietary Guidelines set by USDA.”
As mentioned last week, there is nothing in the Checkoff Order that requires this, just a progression in that direction over the past 10 years, and no sign of the MOU that was in development 10 years ago and officially signed eight years ago.
Another question we asked was: “What role did Edelman (the longtime public relations firm for DMI) play in the creation of GENYOUth as some public articles say Richard Edelman, on the GENYOUth board played a significant role?
This question was completely ignored in both the DMI letter published last week and in any other correspondence with Hershey or DMI staff. It was not even acknowledged. When pressed, it was ignored further.
We also asked: “What role does Edelman continue to play and are you at all concerned that Edelman and other aligned partners in GENYOUth are aligned with the EAT Forum, specifically the FReSH initiative which seeks to accelerate global transformation of the food system to plant-based diets for “healthy people and a healthy planet”?
This question was also completely ignored in both the DMI letter published last week and in any other correspondence with Hershey or DMI staff. It was not acknowledged.
Meanwhile, after these articles were published, the information has come under heavy criticism by DMI staff and board members in discussions with questioning farmers on the private facebook page where farmers can join to ask checkoff-related questions and DMI staff and board members engage in conversation.
There, farmers who ask are told on the one hand that Edelman is “not involved” in the EAT Lancet Commission or EAT FReSH initiative, and on the other hand that it’s “good to have representation on the inside”.
But again, no public statement or answers to these questions are forthcoming. This seems odd given that DMI is funded by dairy farmers through an Act of Congress and the questions are being asked by a dairy farming publication.
When asked if a particular statement made by DMI staff on the private Checkoff facebook page is considered an official public statement answering a question for which we have not yet received an answer, the staff reply by email was that these statements are only for the private facebook participants, not official public statements.
To this point, we have information from the public record, questions for which we have received indirect answers, at best. Many questions that have been completely ignored. And we have a letter of response that contains plenty of diversions.
I find it puzzling that Hershey attempts to position DMI in the letter as the champion of changing the conversation on milk fat, that checkoff would be credited with the Time magazine “Eat Butter” cover in 2014, when that was through the independent work of science writer Nina Teicholz!
I find it puzzling that I was promised a long list of all the whole milk and full-fat dairy research DMI has done for years to change the conversation, but I am still waiting for that list.
These are more diversions. Look over here, not over there.
We’ll look at some of the other unanswered questions next week and see if we can press for more information about the Edelman PR firm regarding the EAT FReSH initiative.
As the public record is clear on some of the Dairy Checkoff alliances of the past decade, and as the financial side of the GENYOUth connection comes into sharper focus with additional documentation that is surfacing, and as specific important questions about the Edelman firm doing public relations and marketing for DMI over the past 20 years are ignored, it’s obvious to me that the digging needs to go further.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: They call it “the dairy farmers’ youth wellness program” because it has been depicted as the brainchild of the National Dairy Council… But GENYOUth — including its flagship Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) — is thin on milk and threatens to steal even more demand as future milk drinkers are steered away from nutritious whole milk products. Meanwhile, the anti-animal and environmental NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) have been infiltrating new billionaire “sustainability” alliances poised to profit on the main course, while dairy farmers bow-down in hopes of crumbs. This is Part One of an investigative multi-part series.
Depicted above is the illustration used to promote and glorify the 2018 GENYOUth Gala that was held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on Nov. 27. The “superheroes” sponsors are listed further down on the 2018 GENYOUth Gala website. PepsiCo was the “hero” sponsor at $150,000. Champion sponsors of $100,000 each were UnitedHealthcare, Corteva Agriscience, Inmar and fairlife. So-called “defender” sponsors included Domino’s, Ecolab, Jamba Juice, Land O’Lakes, NFLPA, SAP, Leprino Foods, Schreiber, Ameritrade, RBC Capital Markets and Omnicom Group, each of which gave $50,000.
By Sherry Bunting, from Farmshine, Friday, January 11, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — How serious is the National Dairy Board about improving fluid milk sales? We see some renewed emphasis on this lately, but our most important sales — those to children in school — threaten to steal even more demand from the future as we lose future milk drinkers with the forced service of only fat-free and 1% low-fat milk in the school lunch and breakfast programs.
Recent studies show that children and teenagers in the poorest demographic of the U.S. population are leading the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. One study by University of Michigan Health System, for example, revealed that for every 1% increase in low-income status among school districts, there as a 1.17% increase in rates of overweight/obese students. Researchers used data collected from mandated screenings that began in Massachusetts schools in 2011, and the percentage of overweight/obese students was compared with the percentage of students in each district eligible for free and reduced school lunch, transitional aid or food stamps (SNAP).
The meals these students receive at school are their best two options for nutrition and satiety all day. There are few restrictions for cheap, high-carb, high-fructose-corn-syrup foods and beverages that can be purchased with SNAP cards, so what will they find at the end of the day for their hunger at home? Soda pop and Dollar Store snacks.
What role is the National Dairy Council and its GENYOUth program playing?
The GENYOUth collaboration is aimed at making “a lasting difference in the lives of children.” That sounds great, but what have been both the intended and unintended lasting consequences?
Certainly, there is a long list of dairy research projects funded by the NDC. That’s a good thing.
But where the rubber meets the road, GENYOUth and its flagship program Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) are aimed at promoting a “healthy lifestyle” that focuses on 60 minutes of physical activity daily and consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein “including low-fat and fat-free dairy.”
For nearly 10 years, the dairy checkoff has parroted the Dietary Guidelines on dairy service to children (and adults) when it comes to institutional feeding — the largest category of the food economy and the place where seeds are planted for lifelong choices based on nutrition education and flavor.
Let’s look at how GENYOUth was launched in 2010.
At the Nov. 27, 2018 gala in New York City, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that GENYOUth was the concept of Dairy Management Inc (DMI) CEO Tom Gallagher. Gallagher today serves as chairman of the GENYOUth board.
In a YouTube video of Goodell’s remarks — before handing the coveted 2018 Vanguard Award to PepsiCo CEO Albert Carey — Goodell stated that Gallagher came to him with the idea for GENYOUth 10 years ago, which was then “founded” in 2010 as a partnership between the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL).
In fact, in its 2014 Progress Report, GENYOUth’s beginning is described as making “cultural shifts” in school nutrition and exercise, stating further that, “Through signing a six-way Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Dairy Council, the National Football League, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services, we have created a productive synergy that has made the sky the limit for GENYOUth.”
According to a report at its website, genyouthnow.org, the foundation seeks to “convene leaders in a movement to empower America’s youth to create a healthier future.”
But let’s go back to the second gala on Dec. 7, 2017 aboard the Intrepid in New York City. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack — who now serves as CEO of dairy checkoff-funded U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) — was presented with the Vanguard Award that year.
The GENYOUth website cited “Vilsack’s accomplishments for dairy farmers” under President Obama — for having “legislated to improve the health of America’s kids.”
More specifically, the Vilsack accolades stated that he partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move!” initiative — “alongside GENYOUth to improve the health of America’s children.”
These words show the partnership the NDC / DMI has had with the Obama / Vilsack administration on shared goals of promoting exercise and low-fat / high carb diets for children and youth.
According to the former GENYOUth foundation website before it was revamped to genyouthnow.org, the Vanguard Award presentation to Vilsack was described in January 2018 as follows:
“Sec. Vilsack helped pass and implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to help combat child hunger and obesity by making the most significant improvements to U.S. school meals in 30 years.”
What was included in these “significant improvements” in 2010?
For starters, America’s schools were forced to offer only fat-free flavored milk and only 1% or fat-free white milk, while the screws were tightened on the requirement that less than 10% of a school meal’s calories could come from saturated fat and by reducing the total number of calories in a meal served to children at school, while at the same time putting both program and promotion emphasis on plant-based meals containing scant lean protein.
This means that not only are dairy producers prohibited from putting their best and most nutritious foot forward with future milk drinkers at school, the schools are forced to serve butter substitutes and imitation cheese or cheeses that are diluted with starch to decrease the amount of calories the students receive from fat).
During the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit in February 2018, keynote speaker Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise — without realizing the significance of her statement — put these USDA / GENYOUth ideas to shame. She stated:
“The fat we eat is not the fat we get. The idea that 60 minutes of exercise can make up for a bad diet is disingenuous. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”
Her 2014 book details her 10-years investigation, revealing the lack of sound science to support low-fat diets. Not only are new studies bearing this out, old studies were found to have been “buried” by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and American Heart Association, because they did not support the fat-heart hypothesis of Ancel Keys.
GENYOUth and FUTP60 not only dutifully “followed” these government guidelines but in reality worked alongside the Obama administration to develop them and further the reach of this low-fat dogma.
The implementation of those school milk rules have cost dairy farmers plenty in lost milk sales. Losses so steep that they drove the gradual declines in fluid milk consumption (see Fluid Milk Timeline chart below) plunging downward like a rock from 2010 through 2017 (most recent full-year figures)
Timelines don’t lie. As we look at this fluid milk timeline, we can see the layered effects of government dietary policy, USDA requirements for fat-free milk (2010), that move occurring alongside the creation of GENYOUth (2010) and some reversal in whole milk trends moving higher after Nina Teicholz’s book Big Fat Surprise made the cover of Time magazine. Meanwhile, the past decade has also been one of FDA non-enforcement of milk’s standard of identity, allowing plant-based alternatives to take hold and proliferate.
Bob Gray for the Northeast Association of Farm Cooperatives addressed these losses on a dairy policy forum panel in Washington exactly one year ago on January 8, 2018. Gray said: “For the last six years (2010 through 2016 data), we have not been able to sell 1% milk in the schools.”
He noted that in just the four years from 2012 to 2015, dairy producers had “lost 288 million half pints of sales to schoolchildren because of this move, alone.” And those losses continued through 2016 and 2017 and into 2018, despite the small move by the Trump administration to allow 1% flavored milk back into schools.
This is an uphill battle to turn around — what with all the fat-free and low-fat promotion and the fact that schools are already aligned with processors that prefer to keep the fat-free pipeline going.
In addition to GENYOUth honoring Secretary Vilsack with the 2017 Vanguard Award, the National Dairy Board provided him a checkoff-funded salaried position as CEO of USDEC, where his rallying cry has been to get export sales to 20% of expanding total milk production while Class I sales as a percentage of total milk production declined to below 20% by the end of 2017.
Remember, experts at various dairy market forums throughout 2018 have made the point that exports do not raise farm-level milk prices because they are “commodity clearing markets.”
But maybe that is the point.
If fluid milk consumption erodes as a percentage of milk production, the cost of milk to processors is reduced for the many other products competing globally for export sales to increase. Meanwhile, a pipeline for fat-free milk sales keeps the cost of milkfat for other products from accelerating in the farm milk check.
The highest-value class under the Federal Order pricing scheme is the shrinking piece of an expanding commodity-dairy-production-for-export pie.
Meanwhile, the past decade has been one of FDA non-enforcement of milk’s standard of identity, allowing plant-based alternatives to take hold and proliferate.
One can argue that the National Dairy Council — whether simply following USDA’s lead or by working alongside USDA to lead — has played right into the hands of GENYOUth ‘friend’ PepsiCo / Quaker.
Remember, Quaker was a company that DMI specifically partnered with a few years back, but the milk part of the Quaker Oatmeal promotion never really materialized, just like we don’t see the milk part promoted in any of the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 spots. But the NFL is joined at the hip to PepsiCo with side-by-side logos during televised games.
Now, just six weeks after receiving the 2018 Vanguard award from GENYOUth, PepsiCo is launching its own Quaker Oat beverage.
In fact, PepsiCo CEO Albert Carey had the audacity to do a brief sales-pitch for what he called “our new oat milk” in his remarks after NFL commissioner Goodell handed him the highest GENYOUth award on behalf of the NFL and the National Dairy Council.
We’ll dig into that in future parts of this investigative series.