Tools for Innovation: Q&A: DMI Helps Processors Think

June 1, 2003
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Q&A with Amy Skovsende, director of technology marketing and a key member of the Extraordinary Dairy® Product Innovation/Research program at Dairy Management Inc.TM (DMI).

Parents consider cheese to be a healthful snack food option. Kids just want it to come in more convenient and fun forms.
Tools for Innovation recently interviewed Amy Skovsende, director of technology marketing and a key member of the Extraordinary Dairy® Product Innovation/Research program at Dairy Management Inc.TM (DMI).

Q. Why is innovation so important?

A. Dairy processors must innovate to survive and thrive. Whatever the innovation-products, processing methods or packaging-it should meet a real consumer need. We know today's families want "grab-and-go" convenience. They're also concerned about nutrition and health. Different ages and demographics want different things. Dairy foods answer everybody's needs-and taste delicious, too.

Q. Why market directly to kids?

A. First and foremost, dairy foods provide essential nutrients. If children start their lives healthy by consuming dairy products, they're more likely as adults to stay healthy by consuming dairy products. In addition, our competition is marketing to kids-sometimes using a dairy angle-and doing it well. Witness the new dairy-based beverages recently launched by the soft drink industry. The message to dairy processors is: If we don't take advantage of kids' interest in our products, then others will.

Q. What does it take to market successfully to kids?

A. Kids want "new," "cool" and "fun," and we've got to deliver those qualities to compete in the food marketplace. Think about the possibilities with colors, flavors and packaging when it comes to cheese, a very popular snack for kids. Yogurt is now hip for kids through new flavors, add-ins and go-anywhere packaging. Our recent School Milk Pilot Test showed that kids will drink and pay more for milk that comes in appealing colors, flavors, sizes and packages other than the traditional gable-top carton. We can help drive dairy consumption by giving kids what they want.

Q. How can dairy processors get help in this area?

A. They should turn to the Extraordinary Dairy Product Innovation/Research program at DMI, which supports them in developing and launching new products, processes and packaging. Through yearly Forums, including the recent Innovation Forum, we foster a dialogue among dairy processors, university researchers and food industry people to make sure innovations move from the lab to the marketplace. Our regional dairy research centers uncover new possibilities all the time. Our Web site (www.extraordinarydairy.com) and new e-newsletter, Dairy Business View (www.dairyfoods.com/dbv) are filled with helpful, current information for processors. We're here to help! Just call 800/248-8829.

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