Cool Possibilities

5/6/2015

For grocery retailers, June Dairy Month is a golden opportunity to help drive sales on several fronts, including wellness, local food and fighting hunger.

Grocers than the dairy industry’s trad of support for marketing and merchandising ideas to boost sales of yogurt, cheese and other dairy-based food products.

For the retail banners of Ahold USA, June Dairy Month is a chance to recognize the local farm families that produce milk and other dairy product for its stores in the Northeast.

“This June, we will build on our long-standing commitment to supporting food banks in the communities we serve by helping to make milk more available for families in need,” says Todd Patti, VP portfolio lead of dairy for Carlisle, Pa.-based Ahold USA, which operates 770 stores under the Stop & Shop, Giant and Giant/Martin’s banners. “Milk is frequently requested by families facing hunger, yet it is not often donated to food banks.”

In fact, Patti notes, on average, food banks receive only the equivalent of 1 gallon per person served each year. To meet the demand, A hold USA will hold a four-week Great American Milk Drive program, in cooperation with the Washington, D.C.-based Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), across the grocer’s market areas to address the issue of low milk donations.

The drive uses tear pads and stanchion signs that encourage per donations, which will then be converted into vouchers for free milk and distributed to local food banks.

The program launched last year to great success, and MilkPEP has now optimized it for June Dairy Month to build on that momentum, explains MilkPEP VP Victor Zaborsky. “We know that June is a key month of the year for charitable giving, and The Great American Milk Drive offers retailers an opportunity to drive consumers to the dairy case and drive donations to families in need when milk is top of mind.”

Patti concurs, “We think June Dairy Month provides a great opportunity to draw attention to the dairy aisle and get shoppers engaged in a unique way.”

MilkPEP offers a range of turnkey tools and resources for retailers, from customizable POS materials to personalized support.

Discovering Dairy

Beyond June Dairy Month, MilkPEP helps retailers tap into other key periods throughout the year, such as Hunger Action Month in September, and the holiday season, during which one-third of annual giving occurs. (Retailers can visit gotmilksales.org for more information.)

“We recognize that the dairy aisle is changing, and we have to more aggressively defend real milk’s reputation in the marketplace,” Zaborsky says. “We are focused on re-establishing consumer confidence in milk and driving increased milk consumption by correcting misinformation and telling positive milk stories. MilkPEP has a long-term strategy that is dedicated to educating consumers and driving sales and consumption of both white and chocolate milk through our research-based national campaigns steeped in shopper insights and industry collaborations and partnerships.”

Those campaigns include Milk Life, which stresses milk’s nutritional benefits, including its 8 grams of protein per serving, and Built with Chocolate Milk, which promotes the yummy beverage as a recovery drink for athletes.

Meanwhile, the Harrisburg, Pa.-based National Refrigerated and Frozen Food Association (NFRA) is unveiling its latest June Dairy Month retailer-driven initiatives that encourage consumers to “Discover the Cool Possibilities” as they shop the aisle, and inspire new uses in culinary and snack applications.

Retailers can enter their NFRA-based June Dairay Month merchandising programs in the 2015 Golden Penguin Awards, presented at the annual NFRA Convention in October, which this year will take place in Dallas (more information is at www.nfraweb.org). Programs should focus on a particular message, as explained on the NFRA website: “The refrigerated dairy aisle is where we go to find the foods we count on every day. But there is more to the aisle than meets the eye. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s a creative, fun side to these foods that’s beyond cool and waiting to be unleashed.”

NFRA offers retailers promotional resources, including digital FSIs, an idea book with a POS material catalog, and partnerships with Evite, an online party-planning service, and the Mr. Food Test Kitchen via television, e-newsletters and social media.

Regional dairy trade groups are at the ready to help retailers as well. Among them, the Midwest Dairy Association (with offices in Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas; www.midwestdairy.com) offers promotional resources like informational videos on topics such as “Dairy Academy for Retail Excellence,” aimed at boosting retail managers’ and dietitians’ knowledge of dairy production.

“We think June Dairy Month provides a great opportunity to draw attention to the dairy aisle and get shoppers engaged in a unique way.”
—Todd Patti, Ahold USA

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