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Could Private Labeling Boost Dairy Demand in Wisconsin?

July 10, 2020

Taylor Leach

It is no secret that Wisconsin is famously known for its cheese. In fact, 90% of the state’s milk is made into this dairy delicacy, which equates to more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year!

Now, with the demand for cheese at an all-time high, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is working to promote private label cheese brands in grocery stores and restaurants to help increase dairy product market opportunities and boost cheese sales.

"Forty years ago, private grocery store labels were generic black and white and centered around value,” explains Rick Findlay, VP Foodservice National Accounts for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, in an industry press release. “Now, it’s the antithesis of that. It is a higher quality product on the cutting edge of innovation.”  

To help expand Wisconsin cheese distribution, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin has ramped up its promotion of the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese label in hopes of propelling sales of milk and cheese. Currently, more than 200 brands of cheese feature the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese logo. (Shown below)

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin plans to use a three-pronged approach to help boost dairy sales occurring in restaurants. These include:

  • Drive awareness of Wisconsin milk and cheese. Work with restaurant operators to place the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese and Proudly Wisconsin Dairy badge on their menus, websites, social platforms and billboards, and even painting the badge on restaurant walls.

  • Enlighten restaurant operators about the quality and breadth of Wisconsin cheese. Invite owners and operators to visit Wisconsin dairy farms to learn first-hand how farmers produce high-quality milk.

  • Grow volume. Work with multi-unit foodservice operators. Restaurant chains that serve pizzas, burgers and sandwiches are the largest consumers of cheese. 

“We’re zeroing in on the large operators with hundreds of restaurants to gain incremental volume,” Findlay says. “Those who display the Proudly Wisconsin badge see growth between 5-10% in sales.”

According to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, private labels represents about 20-40% of a grocer’s assortment in a typical store. Currently, sales of private label products grow and outpace total store growth. To capture some of this growth, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is partnering with Whole Foods and their in-house brand, 365 Everyday Value® label, to verify that the grocery chain uses high-quality Wisconsin cheese.

“This incredible diversity gives grocery stores and restaurant operators an opportunity to offer a unique product, and exclusive flavors and varieties," Findlay says. “We’ve developed long-term alliances with restaurant operators willing to use and enhance the value of the Wisconsin brand."

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