Changes in dairy consumption fuel growth of cheese state, Geoghegan says
“Instead of drinking our dairy products today we are eating them,” Patrick Geoghegan, senior vice president for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, told about 150 farmers and other guests Thursday at the Dairy Month Kick-off breakfast in Kewaunee County.
Fluid milk consumption has decreased 23 percent over the last 25 years, while consumer consumption of yogurt has increased 300 percent, cheese has increased 40 percent and butter has increased 22 percent over the same period, Geoghegan said.
In Wisconsin, there are 9,500 dairy farms, which contribute $43.4 billion annually to the state’s economy. Ninety percent of these farms sell their milk to cheese producers and there are 1,200 licensed cheesemakers in the state and 200 cheese, milk and butter plants, he said.
Specialty cheese production has almost doubled since 2004, when it was 332 million pounds compared to 660 million pounds in 2014, according to Geoghegan.
Consumers view Wisconsin as the Cheese Capital of the World and more than 300 Wisconsin cheese companies and retail partners use Wisconsin identification on cheese or food packaging, he said.
In addition, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board uses food service promotional partners, like Culver’s, A&W, Pizza Co., Country Kitchen, and Firehouse Subs, to promote Wisconsin cheese.
The milk marketing board promotes cheese use through print advertising, dedicated microsites, websites and social media, he said. It also has an online consumer magazine “Grate. Pair. Share.”
Innovation is the key to succeeding in the dairy industry and many dairy farmers have long-term relationships with milk processors, he said..
Following the presentation he responded to questions on the current dairy market.
He said that the American dairy industry is feeling increased pressure from the European Union (EU), where a drop in the value of the euro has increased dairy imports to U.S. markets by 17 percent and doubled butter imports.
He noted that milk production in the United States and Europe was strong. But declining markets in China and a political situation in Russia, which is not allowing the EU to import milk, have hurt milk prices.
He said that milk prices were expected to bottom out in June and then climb higher as the year progresses.
The dairy breakfast also included the introduction of the 2016 Fairest of the Fair, Liz Gilson, and Junior Fairest of the Fair, Abbi Kittleson, who will reign at this year’s Kewaunee County Fair in July.
Gilson is a student at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she is studying to be a physician’s assistant.
“In our small county, the fair is like a reunion,” she said noting that she and Kittleson are booked to attend county events through the fall.
Kittleson will be a freshman at Kewaunee High School this fall and moved to the county two years ago from Waukesha. She plays football but will not continue in high school, she said.
“I wanted to show that girls could do anything,” she said. “I went from pads to dresses.” .
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Changes in dairy consumption fuel growth of cheese state, Geoghegan says