Harness the Power of Protein

Cow’s milk has earned its reputation as a nutritious beverage because it delivers nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein. In fact, milk is the leading food source of three out of the four “nutrients of concern” (calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber) identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as lacking in the typical American diet.

Why, then, are sales of this nutritional powerhouse falling, and what can retail dietitians do to help?

Convenient and Flavorful

Sales of white milk gallons, while still the most popular, are declining overall. One key reason for this may be that the gallon jug may just be too large for many Baby Boomer and Millennial households.

Sales of flavored milk, however, are on the rise. It retains all of the nutrient benefits of milk and may represent the best opportunity to drive consumer interest in the category. The milk industry is responding by introducing smaller, portable containers of milk in unique and seasonal flavors beyond the traditional chocolate and strawberry.

Innovations that meet consumer demand for convenience flavor appeal and “clean” natural ingredients appear best able to compete in the flooded beverage market.

Protein-packed and Satisfying

Nutrition experts encourage consumption of 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal to curb hunger and preserve lean muscle. Despite this just 29 percent of consumers know that protein is naturally found in milk and only 25 percent are familiar with whey protein.

This is a major consumer education opportunity. Research shows that when targeted consumers receive a protein message demand for milk at breakfast increases by up to 25 percent.

Making an Impact

There are a number of ways retail dietitians can make an impact.

First, call out “good source of protein” at the shelf and on qualifying dairy packages. Next, use store tours, in-store and community events, and broader consumer communications to identify milk as a go-to choice for natural protein, and suggest healthful food pairings. Highlight available research supporting chocolate milk as a recovery drink for athletes and avid exercisers.

Finally, customize various industry campaigns to boost consumer awareness and drive milk sales at your retail location(s). Here are two examples:

Milk Life, a national initiative launched in 2014 by the Washington, D.C.-based Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and funded by America’s milk processors, spotlights everyday moments of accomplishment, achievement and enjoyment to reinforce milk’s many nutritional benefits. A campaign guide is available to help retailers customize the program and extend its impact. See social media #MilkLife, and watch for info on a new 2016 initiative, My Morning Protein.

Realizing that milk is desperately needed but seldom donated to food banks, the National Dairy Council partnered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Feeding America on the nationwide, multiyear Great American Milk Drive to inspire people to donate milk to hungry families. It provides an opportunity for retailers to address the epidemic of food insecurity while spotlighting milk’s vital nutrient contributions. Shoppers can buy milk at their local stores and donate it to an area food pantry. Resources are available to assist with customized checkout programs. The movement is also active on social media, via #MilkDrive.

Call out ‘good source of protein’ at the shelf and on qualifying dairy packages. Use store tours and events to identify milk as a go-to choice for natural protein.

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