The pandemic has challenged a lot of us over the last year. One bright spot: Consumers have been cooking, baking and snacking at home more often. Sales of many food products have seen dramatic increases.
Just in 2020, dairy category growth outpaced other food growth in grocery stores. Overall, volume reportedly increased nearly 22% for butter, 18% for cream, and 13% for both sour cream and cheese.
In recognition of heightened consumer interest in the kitchen and in support of Earth Day on Thursday (April 22), Midwest Dairy is highlighting environmentally friendly efforts of dairy producers and dairy’s sustainable nutrition story.
Martha Kemper, Midwest Dairy vice president for dairy experience, demand, says the organization is working with retailers and other food partners to share sustainable messages so they can meet consumers wherever they are. Those points of contact with consumers include the traditional dairy case as well as other in-store signage and videos, videos at gas station pumps, social media campaigns, online banner ads directing consumers to dairy products, in-store promotions, special offers and recipes.
Recipe in mind at grocery store
Research has shown the importance of digital efforts to reach consumers before they head to the store or shop online, as 81% of consumers head for the grocery store with a recipe in mind.
Kemper shared one of her recent grocery shopping experiences. She went to the deli and saw a recipe on display featuring feta cheese in a baked casserole along with pasta, tomatoes, olive oil and other ingredients. The recipe has since gone viral.
“The recipe is so simple — yet it provides inspiration for meal planning,” she says. “That’s how it comes to life. It was viral on the internet, and the retailer made it part of a solution.”
Shoppers especially leaned on the internet early in the pandemic by ordering groceries online.
“We knew e-commerce was coming, but not that quickly,” Kemper says. “E-commerce advanced about five years [due to COVID-19].” This consumer connection offered another platform for retailers to reach consumers with messages by highlighting specials or other information via their online shopping sites.
Retailers know that when consumers come shopping for dairy products, they will grab other things, too. Retailers call this the “basket ring” — the average transaction at the register is higher when there is dairy in the basket.
“For example, if you have a recipe that has dairy in it, it probably has other ingredients that you may need to buy,” Kemper says.
Another way that Midwest Dairy is partnering with stores, such as Cub Foods and Coborn’s, is to help enhance retailers’ commitment to the community by showcasing farmers’ stories and supporting local food production. This is important since studies show that 31% of Midwest consumers are uncertain about whether dairy products are environmentally friendly, and 37% say that retailers are responsible for providing environmentally friendly foods, according to Midwest Dairy.