Marketing milk

How to do more to promote the benefits of milk to the public – and thereby improve profits all round.

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As all farmers know, profit is based on input or production costs plus the desired profit margin or mark-up. This establishes the price at which to sell the product. However, farmers do not always enjoy this privilege, particularly in the case of perishable foods such as milk, fruit and vegetables.

Advertising to promote consumer spending is expensive, particularly on TV. Certainly, there must be a lot of money to be made from floor mops, kitchen gadgets, slimming equipment and women’s hair products, given the number of commercials we’re subjected to. I do not mean to denigrate the efforts of the MPO, Milk SA’s Consumer Education Project or the Nutrition Information Centre at Stellenbosch University (NICUS).

But I feel more funding for milk advertising should be aimed at an educational campaign by the departments of health, education and agriculture. Further funding can, I propose, come from the companies or institutions that deal with farmers. What if these businesses all contributed 0,5% of their turnover towards funding such an advertising campaign?

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In January 1999, I put forward this proposal to a large feed company. It wasn’t well received, because there were reservations as to who would be responsible for the administration of the funds. Every eating establishment should have on its tables a small plastic cow with a laminated information leaflet for customers to study, advertising the merits of milk with a slogan such as Why Milk?

The conjugated linoleic acid in milk fats fight off cancer. Calcium and vitamin D prevent osteoporosis. And then there are the many other nutritional benefits in the form of protein, vitamins, minerals, and so on. A campaign such as the one I’m suggesting should increase demand for dairy products and help improve the health of the nation. Fizzy cooldrinks do us no favours and are in any case more expensive than milk.

Acknowledgements: Marian L Kelly, Dale E Bauman and NICUS.

Malcolm Stewart-Burger founded the Society of Master Dairymen and designed the Maxi Milk System. He is currently a part-time consultant to Nutex Feeds and De Heus. Contact him at [email protected]. Please state ‘Milking for profit’ in the subject line of your email.