Joint Industry Effort Aims to Reduce Carbon Footprint

ROSEMONT, Ill.-Leaders from a broad coalition of dairy industry groups came together for a Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy in June and the outcome is an ambitious action plan to reduce fluid milk’s carbon footprint while increasing business value, from farm to consumer.

The Summit involved 250 leaders representing producers, processors, non-governmental organizations, university researchers and government agencies held in Rogers, Ark., June 16 to 19. The plan focuses on operational efficiencies and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring financial viability and industry growth.

“Sustainability is a challenge that requires industry-wide solutions, and our efforts establish a new standard for industry collaboration,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc.

Among the recommendations:

• Reduce energy use in the milk supply chain by developing technologies for next generation milk processing on the farm and in the plant.

• Establish a mechanism to optimize returns to the dairy industry from a carbon credit trading system that encourages reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

• Reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency for dairy farmers and processors through financially viable best management practices and tools that calculate individual farm energy and alternative energy opportunities.

• Supply green power to communities by expanding the use of methane digesters.

• Stimulate development of low-cost, low-carbon, consumer-acceptable packaging.

• Reduce cooling costs and emissions associated with refrigeration by expanding economically feasible, environmentally responsible and consumer-accepted dairy products.

Saputo Bids for Australian Co-op

MONTREAL-Canada’s top dairy company, Saputo Inc., is rumored to have made a bid to expand its international holdings-this time Down Under.

The Australian Financial Review has reported that Saputo was one of three parties to submit formal bids Friday for the manufacturing assets of Dairy Farmers in Australia.

Financial analyst Michael Van Aelst said this would be a very strategic acquisition for Saputo and give it a second source of low-cost raw milk to make dairy products for the local and export markets, including China.

IDFA Files Suit Against Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio-The International Dairy Foods Association recently filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio challenging its new regulations regarding the labeling of dairy products from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones.

In the lawsuit, IDFA says the Ohio rule interferes with the First Amendment right of its members to communicate truthful information to Ohioans and with interstate commerce.

The complaint is the result of a controversial dairy product labeling regulation that went into effect on May 22 with a 120-day implementation period. IDFA members are manufacturers of dairy products, including milk, cheese and ice cream. They want to be able to tell consumers which products come from cows that have not been treated with the artificial growth hormone, commonly referred to as rbGH or rbST.

IDFA’s lawsuit says that Ohio’s rule-which dictates not only the words, but the font, style, case, color and even size of the language that must be used on labels - poses unconstitutional restrictions.

“The practical effect of the Ohio rule silences manufacturers of dairy products and prevents Ohioans from knowing whether artificial growth hormones have been used in dairy products,” said Peggy Armstrong, communications dir. for IDFA. Armstrong said Ohio’s labeling regulation is so cumbersome, especially for national and regional dairy manufacturers, that many will be forced to simply drop information about artificial growth hormones on packages altogether.

According to the IDFA lawsuit, the Ohio rule goes well beyond the labeling guidance offered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is significantly different than most other states. As a result, dairy companies will have to create special labels just for Ohio or do away with labeling that provides information about the use of artificial growth hormones. The net effect, IDFA says, is the Ohio law for many of its members is unworkable, costly and impedes commercial free speech and interstate commerce.

In a declaration to the State of Ohio, Steve Schmid, president of Smith Dairy in Orrville, Ohio, said that complying with Ohio’s rule by the September compliance date would cost his company more than $6,250 per label and an additional $32,000 in current inventory would become obsolete.

In a similar declaration, William Luth of Tillamook Cheese said that the Ohio regulation prevents Tillamook from selling nationally-branded products in Ohio unless the company changes all of its existing labels.

Blue Bell Spotlights Full-sized Packaging in New Ads

The “little creamery from Brenham” has a new 30-second TV spot that says little about the ice cream, and instead focuses on the package-the size of the package that is.

Texas-based Blue Bell still sells half-gallon containers of ice cream at a time when many competitors have downsized their packages (some even twice) to offset rising costs. Many ice cream makers have now gone below the 56-oz “half-gallon” to a 48-oz size, arguing the rising input and distributions cost have made it necessary.

The first spot in Blue Bell’s new ad campaign, which launched June 16, contains lighthearted vignettes of people’s lives being affected by downsizing: a carpenter having to work with a smaller ruler and a woman trying to wear a smaller shoe, for example.

The spot intends to convey “old-fashioned values and standards” and the idea that with Blue Bell “you get what you pay for,” said Roger Christian, head of San Antonio-based Roger Christian & Co., the ad agency that created the commercials. Many of Blue Bell’s ads evoke the charm of small town life.

One of the best-known Blue Bell commercials created by Christian was set in a beautiful meadow and starred contented cows who thought Brenham was Heaven.

Hood to Buy Brigham’s

BOSTON-Brigham’s Ice Cream Inc. has agreed to sell its product lines to HP Hood in a deal that joins two of New England’s most well-known ice cream brands. Lynnfield, Mass.-based Hood will acquire the Brigham’s brand name and all products, proprietary flavors and recipes.

In a separate deal, Brigham’s has agreed to sell its 28 retail outlets and restaurants to Baltimore-based Deal Metrics LLC. Terms of the deals were not disclosed. Brigham’s announced in May that it was exploring various strategic options, including a possible sale due to tough competition from bigger ice cream brands and rising prices for fuel and ingredients. The 40 people who work at Brigham’s headquarters and production plant in Arlington will lose their jobs. Another 100 or so employees who work at the company’s restaurants are expected to keep their jobs under the new management.

Consumers won’t see any changes in taste in the Brigham’s brand, said Hood’s Lynne Bohan.

“Our priority will be to focus on the strength of the Brigham’s packaged ice cream business and in preserving the Brigham’s proprietary flavors and recipes,” Bohan said. “Brigham’s has a very loyal following among consumers, and we want to preserve that.” The deal unites two of the most venerable ice cream brands in New England. Hood has been around for 160 years, while Brigham’s is 94 years old. “We’re both iconic brands in the New England market, and we believe both brands have loyal followings,” Bohan said.