One major trend has swept all categories within the food industry: transparency. With authenticity driving many brands to rethink how they approach their food production, much of this work within the dairy industry begins with dairy producers. As consumers become more health-focused, the food industry has embraced the opportunity to meet their increasing needs.

Consumers have come to understand that terms like organic and grass-fed imply the animals are free to graze on a picturesque landscape. However, it has been made clear that these statements can be misleading, giving shoppers the false sense that they are supporting sustainable and humane brands. It won’t be long before they realize that imported milk solids are added and not reported, which does not guarantee the health, happiness or humane treatment of animals.

As of yet, the government does not require imported dairy ingredients to be disclosed on a label or nutritional statement. In the spirit of truly transparent practices, however, traceability must be a priority. Because there are currently no government regulations surrounding the pasture-raised label, today, farm fresh milk is the only way to show consumers that your farming practices are as humane as your labels tout.

Cut through the clutter of dairy brands promising transparency, and ensure your dairy practices clearly represent your ethical and sustainable standards. This starts with the knowledge that the authenticity consumers are looking for can be found in pasture-raised products and a holistic approach to raising animals.

Cultivate greater authenticity through pasture-raised dairy

The pasture-raised category of dairy farming addresses the quality of life dairy cows are granted, as well as their freedom of choice. A look at a pasture-raised farm ensures that pasture is available to its inhabitants year-around.

This doesn’t mean the cows are on the pasture every day. They have the choice to enjoy the elements or stay under shelter, depending on the weather.

Family farms dedicated to pasture-raising their dairy cows understand that quality milk comes from healthy cows. For this reason, their cow care practices are centered on the cows' health — as well as their comfort — rather than mass production.

By providing clean, dry housing conditions, proper nutrition, sanitary milking procedures and veterinary recommended health programs, farmers caring for their cows in a pasture-raised lifestyle are able to produce high-quality, wholesome milk.

How your consumers are supporting humane, sustainable brands

Consumers not only have expressed their respect for this humane way of dairy production, but also have become vocal about the need for it.

In response to the question “What would you like to know from farmers about food production that you currently do not know?”, 68% of respondents said they wanted to know what farmers are doing to ensure animal care (Demeter Communications). According to a Mintel consumer intelligence poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults, “the majority of consumers … want to know that the animals they eat have been treated well and raised in a safe and healthy environment.”

In the year 2018, more shoppers will begin to use their buying decisions as a way to vote for what they would like to see change within the food industry. Will they be able to say they’re making a significant impact on the issues of humane treatment and sustainability when they choose your dairy products?