Industry Partners

It's Time to Change the Dairy Business, IDFA CEO Says

Michael Dykes urges innovation in a rapidly evolving business
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Photograph: Shutterstock

“It is time to take charge of our future together rather than allow others to determine it for us,” Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), said during the recent Dairy Forum 2020. He noted that change can be scary, but if you call it by another name—innovation—then it becomes something that is both exciting and necessary.

He went on to add, “I’ll make a prediction about the dairy industry: We will see more change in the next five years than anything we’ve experienced over the last 15 years. We will continue to see consolidation across our industry … and change in the products we make … the way our industry is organized to produce and deliver those products … and we will see more public scrutiny on our industry with changing consumer demands and preferences for our products. The question is: Are we going to endure change or embrace it? Are we going to react to change or get in front and lead it?”

Michael Dykes

Michael Dykes

The dairy industry now includes traditional milk but also protein bars that are made with dairy byproducts and whey protein health drinks—a demonstration of innovation in the category that should be embraced, not things to be feared.

Dykes said that now is a great time to be in the dairy business. “The dairy business in the United States at the consumer level has never been bigger, never been stronger, and it continues to grow. Dairy is highly relevant in the marketplace. It is a flexible product able to maintain core attributes of quality, taste, affordability and nutrition—as it evolves with shifting consumer preferences. Dairy consumption is growing around the world, providing us with a significant long-term opportunity as emerging middle classes begin to demand more protein.”

Dairy consumption has trended up for the past five decades and increased 22% since 1975. In the past decade, per capita consumption has increased 6%, although the mix of products consumed has changed.

“Even as beverage milk sales have declined, we have found ways to adapt to evolving consumer preferences, demonstrating that we’re dynamic, innovative and committed to delivering dairy’s essential goodness and powerful nutrition to consumers in all sorts of products and offerings. We are eating more dairy and drinking less,” Dyke said. “The future will not look like the past, but it’s change we must embrace.”

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