In 2020, the American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) completed its 95th year of continuous operation since the founding of the legacy organizations during the roaring 1920s in Chicago. Not many organizations can say that today — especially in the realm of industry trade associations and much less in the dairy segment of the broad food and beverage industry.

Upon further examination of this accomplishment and looking into the why’s and how’s related to the same, the fundamental formula for success has been — and remains today — that we are of, for and by our members. ADPI’s legacy organizations (Evaporated Milk Association, 1923; American Dry Milk Institute, 1925; Whey Products Institute, 1971) all were founded and organized to serve members by enabling “pre- and pro-competitive” collaborative work to benefit members — and, ultimately, consumers of the products produced — to enhance health, wellbeing and fundamental nutrition needs. Members worked together to resolve issues and to identify and leverage opportunities to ensure viable growth for not only their respective organizations, but also the “industry” at large. In the early days, activities centered on food safety, product nutrition and distribution optimization to be able to feed U.S. consumers.


Looking to thrive

These things remain core today but have evolved to food safety systems, health and nutrition, and global supply chain optimization to serve consumers globally, well beyond U.S. borders. To be here today and to ensure we are here tomorrow, the one word that applies is “relevance.”

We have to ensure the products we produce are relevant to consumer needs now and into the future. We have to ensure our processes and protocols remain relevant with innovative technologies, processing and supply chain capabilities. We have to make sure innovation is a fundamental core capability, and we use research and development (i.e., science) to ensure what we make and provide is safe and fit for purpose.

We have to ensure our people in all segments of the industry are trained and developed — and receive the proper tools and safe environments necessary to work, develop and grow. We have to be able to attract top talent across a wide spectrum of need states and skill sets to ensure our relevance. As a trade association, we have to make sure we are relevant to the changing needs of our members and we have a clear vision and mission, supported by the strategic precepts, to provide an ever-increasing value proposition for their continued engagement. Entities that remain relevant survive and thrive, and those who do not “fade to black.”