With marketplace pressures stronger than ever, 2018 was a challenging year for milk across the value chain — from farmers to processors, brands, retailers and more. Milk is amidst a competitive environment unlike any we’ve seen before — a hyper-competitive and rapidly changing retail landscape, a food-forward culture that includes dairy-free and plant-based diets, and seemingly unlimited beverage choices for today’s consumer. 

As a result, every food and beverage category and product is upping its game, spending more and smarter — against innovation, shopper marketing, customer relations, digital marketing and more. The milk category needs to up its game, too.

And I’m optimistic that it can. Based on Milk Processors Education Program (MilkPEP) data, if we get just one additional serving per household per week from key consumer segments, we can drive significant growth for the category.


How we’ll fix the fundamentals

One of the biggest issues facing the dairy milk category is that products within the category are often understocked and under-spaced at retail. Dairy milk continues to be a key trip and traffic driver to stores. In fact, 95% percent of households buy milk, and the dairy case is one of the most profitable sections of the grocery store. 

Yet 48% of shoppers report experiencing at least one dairy milk out-of-stock experience, resulting in lost profit and a less-positive customer experience. And a recent audit in several U.S. markets showed only 12% of stores were fully stocked; the vast majority visited had an average of 4.6 fluid milk items out of stock. If milk is not optimally spaced and stocked, your customers could be missing out on profit potential.

MilkPEP and the united dairy industry (including Dairy Management Inc. and others) formed the Milk Revitalization Alliance (MRA) to focus on solving this problem, informed by research and in-market test results. The MRA is communicating directly with retailers, providing data, insights and tools to demonstrate how they can maximize the profit potential of milk and the entire dairy case for their stores. Together, we can take back the dairy aisle, fix the fundamentals and reignite category growth, while better serving retail customers.


Take action for your brand

Retailer education is key. As an industry, we have a tremendous opportunity to remind our retailer partners that the dairy case is one of the most profitable sections of the grocery store. MilkPEP has resources you can utilize in your retail conversations to present a stronger business case on the importance of milk to shoppers. We have insights and data to elevate the out-of-stock issue and highlight the significant growth within the milk category — from flavored and single-serve milk to lactose-free and whole milk, which are often underrepresented on shelf.

From cross-category trends to consumer shopper habits and behaviors, we can share the data and resources to help retailers appeal to the ever-changing shopper. These present a valuable opportunity for retailers to reset the product mix and spacing to satisfy consumer demand and carry a more competitive mix of your brand offerings.

In addition to trends insights and data, MilkPEP has a robust calendar of shopper marketing programs that your brand can leverage in store. Each program is built around shopper insights and designed to grab their attention and build baskets. All of the programs will follow the shopper and inspire them through the full journey from consideration to purchase — with both digital and in-store support.

By showcasing the huge opportunity milk brings to stores, your brand can make the case for retailers to rethink the product mix and spacing to satisfy consumers’ demand.