Guest Columns

Dairy Sustainability

Building sustainable brand stories

Erika Gayhart

Erika Gayhart is the associate marketing manager within Chr. Hansen’s food cultures and enzymes marketing and business development team. She has more than a decade of experience working in the dairy food industry and contributes this column exclusively for Cheese Market News®.

Consumers have a heightened awareness of sustainability and are actively seeking companies who showcase their sustainable efforts. According to a 2020 insights report by Palsgaard, 75% of consumers feel food companies hold a lot of responsibility in protecting the environment. Furthermore, 92% believe it is important that the ingredients used in foods they buy are produced sustainably. The dairy industry is no exception to this rule.

Younger generations are especially focused on sustainability and climate impact. Undeniably Dairy (2021) reported that 67% of Gen Z consumers have already shifted their purchase behaviors in an effort to be more sustainable.

As sustainable companies, we want to make these consumers more confident about their choice to purchase dairy products. We need to reach them where they are, show them what we are doing to make a positive impact and invite them to join us on this journey.

The time is now for the dairy industry to embrace the trend by facilitating and communicating the development of innovative products that, for example, promote less food waste and a more efficient use of raw materials, building a low-carbon food system.

• People enjoy experiences

If we want to tell the world what we are doing to be sustainable, why not invite consumers to an experience?

Consumers love a good experience that they can share with others. They want to be part of something bigger that impacts a greater good. We can engage these young people by giving insights into what we are doing in the dairy industry — right here, right now.

Our industry is already finding ways to bring the farm to consumers. Many farmers around the world are now on YouTube, sharing what farm life looks like and bringing awareness to people who wouldn’t have known otherwise. TikTok micro influencers are sharing small bites of their dairy lives each day.

Social media isn’t the only place where people are learning about farms and dairies. There’s now a show by National Geographic that follows The Hatcher Family Dairy. Arla has a number of virtual farm videos on YouTube that are part of its 2020 Farm Day. As a step up from that, consumers in Finland can scan their milk carton to be transported to their virtual interactive farm, where they can view the fields and learn about the 33 cows there. There’s a similar site for the United Kingdom.

• Your brand story

Your organization’s initiatives would make a great sustainability story. The more we educate consumers about our initiatives, the higher likelihood that they will get a more balanced view of the dairy industry.

We can show videos of how cows are humanely raised, how plants are upcycled and turned into feed to reduce food waste and keep food out of landfills, and how cow manure is being recycled to make sustainable fertilizers. We can show consumers how we are using fermentation-enabled bioprotection to help inhibit pathogens that cause spoilage. Perhaps you have changed your packaging or removed the paper dividers from your slices. These are actions that will appeal to the climate-conscious consumer.

If sustainability has not been a core part of your brand, consider highlighting it and discover how you can incorporate it in everything that you do. Together we are building a better world, sustainably.


The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

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