A Year in Review
James Dudlicek
(847) 405-4009
As Dairy Field nears the end of its centennial year, we look back on the progress the industry has made during 2005 and what the future holds.
Dairy got a boost from the new federal dietary guidelines that upped its recommended daily intake to three servings a day, buttressing the industry’s own 3-A-Day campaign promoting lowfat dairy foods for weight control and overall wellness. Changes in school nutrition policy also opened new opportunities for processors, who are making great strides in school milk marketing, despite the ongoing paper-plastic debate.
Manufacturing capacity continues to expand, especially in the cheese and frozen dessert segments. Dreyer’s has expanded on both coasts, while cheddar is now being made at a new mega-plant in the Southwest and Swiss has started coming off the line at a new high-tech facility in Idaho, one of the nation’s top cheese-producing states.
The theme of the last Dairy Forum was “think globally.” Since then, the passage of CAFTA has heralded the opening of Latin American markets to domestic processors (not to mention access to foreign sugar) as trade barriers are stripped away. As such, the market for dairy food and ingredient exports continues to evolve.
Among product offerings, health and wellness issues continue to dominate. And if the number of sugar-substitute and reduced-fat offerings displayed at the 2005 Worldwide Food Expo is any indication, they will continue to play a crucial role in dairy product development in the foreseeable future. “Better-for-you” products are still hogging the new product spotlight, and at least one leader in this area foresees sales of its light ice cream overtaking that of traditional offerings before very long.
As such, our picks for the best products of the past year (page 30) reflect this trend, from new formulations to portion-controlled servings. The advancement of dairy in health and wellness, as well as the nutriceutical arena, also was a key motivator in our selection of Yoplait as DF’s 2005 Processor of the Year (page 18). Formulation and functionality have been driving product development at Yoplait, and its involvement in research that revealed the link between dairy calcium and weight loss was crucial to the industry as a whole.
So, with the opportunity to be a leader in the nation’s fight against obesity, grow its manufacturing capabilities, nurture a new generation of consumers and leverage global market opportunities, the advancements of the past year bode very well for dairy as the industry heads full-speed into 2006.  
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