With milk sales showing the first real signs of improvement in more than a decade, the dairy industry’s promotion groups are reining in a marketing campaign that just may have played a key role in the turnaround.

With milk sales showing the first real signs of improvement in more than a decade, the dairy industry’s promotion groups are reining in a marketing campaign that just may have played a key role in the turnaround.

The Federal Trade Commission sent a letter last month to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine saying that MilkPEP and DMI are voluntarily scaling back the weight loss messages which have become a central message of generic dairy marketing in the last four years. Rather than claiming milk can help individuals lose weight, the messages will now focus only on weight maintenance, and the USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

An article on the changes appeared in the May 11 New York Times and some sporadic national news coverage has followed.  Both Greg Miller of the National Dairy Council and Tom Nagle of IDFA have made statements defending the science behind the claims. They also said that changes could be temporary, until further research is done to prove the claims.

“This doesn’t mean we’re pulling anything from the market - we’re on track in evolving our healthy weight messaging, so consumers won’t see any dramatic changes in the campaign,” said Nagle.

Individual dairy companies who use weight loss messages in their branded promotion are not part of the agreement, which focuses only on the generic campaigns.

This year, MilkPEP is launching a new weight-related campaign, Think About Your Drink, which asks consumers to compare milk to other beverages in terms of nutrition. It will not be affected.