New England Dairy staff, delegates, directors, and guests gathered on November 3 and 4 in Essex, Vermont, for our 2022 Annual Meeting.
Staff shared highlights and results from our work throughout the year and shared a look into plans for 2023 as we continue to work on your behalf to build dairy trust and sales. We also hosted a panel discussion about building trust in dairy using social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram. It featured guest panelists Denise Barstow Manz (dairy farmer, Barstow’s Longview Farm), Indiana Troupe (Gen Z influencer & dairy ambassador) Kate Rowley (dairy farmer, Rowley Brother’s Dairy), and Alyssa Pannozzi (millennial mom influencer & fitness trainer).
Our 2022 direction was Keep it Real, Enjoy the Good. Every time you drink milk or enjoy your favorite dairy food, you’re doing good for yourself and your family, the community, and the planet.
Dairy Sales In & Out of Schools: New England Dairy supports schools through equipment grants. In 2022, we provided $133,000 in funding to 78 schools. Smoothies have been the most popular grant for the past two years launching in many of our target districts. We also continued our Chill Out with Cold Milk program that helps schools implement best practices for serving the best tasting milk possible.
We continued to cultivate relationships with dairy partners that provide opportunities to grow trust and sales. We launched a consumer campaign with Guida’s Dairy that resulted in 560,000 special milk labels to educate and connect consumers to how their purchase of milk supports local dairy farmers and highlighted sustainable farm practices.
Building Dairy Trust in Target Audiences: Adopt a Cow is a year-long virtual experience that brings dairy farming to life for students. At the heart of the program is the ability for students to watch a baby calf grow in front of their eyes through photo and video updates while being connected to a local dairy farmer. We had over 1,200 schools enrolled this year – reaching over 36,000 students – and four host farms.
Millennial moms care about where their products come from, including how the cows are treated. This is a topic we can educate them about and help them feel good about dairy. This fall, we created four unique videos focusing on the different ways that farmers care for their cows, with topics like bedding, veterinary care, hoof trimming, and antibiotic use.
New England Dairy focused on creating memorable in-person experiences with our Mobile Dairy Bar front and center. The Mobile Dairy Bar allows us to meet consumers in their communities, make milk modern and exciting, and provide answers to lingering dairy questions. We attended 56 events this year throughout the region, interacting with 53,000 consumers.
Outreach to thought leaders continues to be a priority for New England Dairy. We continued our efforts to connect pediatric care providers, including pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners, with resources to help parents of young children navigate their way through the exciting but sometimes challenging path to feeding their children. This outreach is based on research findings that indicate pediatricians are showing signs of hesitancy about dairy, so we provided them with samples and the ability to order our birth-24-month feeding guide and Know Your Milk resource.
Farmer Relations: In 2021, we piloted the Digital Dairy Ambassador program in Connecticut. Ambassadors are provided a tool kit and training to help them develop dairy-focused content and messaging for their social media. The programs’ goals include helping farmers build or strengthen their digital skills, grow their online following, generate content that promotes dairy farming and dairy products, and amplify the farmer voice on social media. Our Dairy Ambassadors created 201 posts that generated 21,584 likes. We expanded the Dairy Ambassador program to be region-wide this year and have 14 farms currently participating.
Another way New England Dairy supported our farmers this year was through farmer grants. We awarded 15 grants totaling $41,350. This included projects that connected consumers to our farms, including Open Farm Days at Newmont Farm, Breakfast on the Farm in Vermont, and Terra Firma Farm’s Give Gallons program, which provides milk to food banks in Connecticut.
As we embark on the final year of our strategic plan, our work will continue to address three goals: accelerating incremental dairy sales inside and outside of schools, building dairy trust in target audiences, and delivering exceptional farmer relations.
This work will be achieved with three pillars in mind:
Health: We will focus on all the ways dairy is good for consumers and their families.
Environmental sustainability: We will highlight dairy’s sustainability story and important moments in time such as Earth Day.
Community: We will share the impact our farmers have in our communities and how we can connect with one another and give back with dairy.