Don’t make 10 New Year’s resolutions. Just make one: Listen.

Listen to your customers, your consumers and your employees. They’ll point you in the right direction.

• Your customers will tell you what they need. It could be new flavors, fewer ingredients or new formats. You could end up serving a new channel of distribution, based on what you hear. Don’t manufacture just what you want to make. Make what your customers want.

• Your employees will help you be a better manufacturer. No one knows more about equipment reliability, ergonomics and workplace safety than those who live it every day, 2,000 hours a year. Ask them how they would organize the workplace for more productivity, then act on their suggestions.

• Your customer’s customers — consumers — are looking for healthy meal and snacking solutions. Speak directly with them. Their answers can guide you in product development. Dairy products can provide convenience, low-cost nutrition or easy-to-use ingredients, to name just a few solutions.

Listen to what’s being said in the mainstream media and social media (these are converging) about the dairy category in general and specific dairy foods and beverages. Be prepared to defend your products when activists target them.

Listening can lead to efficiency, better customer and employee relations, new ideas and market leadership. That sounds like pretty good advice. I might just follow it myself. Happy New Year!


12th Annual Supplier Spotlights

This January 2013 issue of Dairy Foods gives you a better look at suppliers to the dairy industry that represent a variety of disciplines, from engineering and packaging to food ingredients and science plus laboratory expertise.