Comin’ Out Swingin’
I got an interesting phone call the other day. It was from a consultant working for an overseas dairy processor that was interested in U.S. dairy market trends that might be headed their way. (Funny, I always thought it was their trends, like probiotics and functional ingredients, that came to us from over there.)
This consultant was particularly interested in negative trends for milk, and he rattled off a series of anti-dairy books he’d discovered that claim milk causes cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and a host of other things that will ultimately kill you. And, he continued, he wanted to know if the dairy industry had offered any kind of rebuttal to these “studies.”
Well, in addition to the ongoing shellacking we mete out to the anti-dairy fringe in this space and our blog, the industry has been systematically countering the attackers with sound science, carefully gathered over time, that for the most part reverses their outrageous claims.
But the idea that this fellow was unaware of any attempts by the industry to defend itself suggests to me that maybe the industry isn’t doing enough, saying it loudly enough or capturing as many ears in the media as the rock-throwers and blood-spatterers.
A while back, I wrote about a speaker at the 2006 Dairy Forum who heads up the Center for Consumer Freedom, a gonzo marketer and veteran of big tobacco who preaches a “they pull a knife, you pull a gun” philosophy in taking on the food police. At the time, the feeling of industry advocates was a “slow and steady wins the race” approach, backed by science. Those of you who favor using rBST see how well that’s worked.
I think we need to be trumpeting our sound science more loudly (the latest: milk is better than soy for building muscle mass; visit our Web site for the whole story) and more creatively than the other guys are shouting their shoddy studies.
It may not look like much now, but just as personal freedoms can be eroded incrementally, the anti-dairy crowd’s perpetual braying may ultimately do some real damage. We want the goodness of dairy to be shared by all, and to sustain a thriving market for the hundreds of new products being developed by a vibrant, optimistic dairy industry.
You can start reading about it on page 16 in our 2007 State of the Industry report.