Dairy's silver lining

I’ve spent a lot of time cooking at home during this pandemic. Butter, yogurt and cheese are well-stocked in my fridge and ice cream has its place too. I know I’m not the only one hunkering down with comfort food as COVID is driving us to the grocery stores to get milk and other dairy products for our families.

Martha Kemper is the vice president of dairy experience-demand at Midwest Dairy. She says the increase in home cooking has produced a huge spike of dairy product sales in the retail environment. 

"Butter has definitely seen some double-digit growth. Also, we’ve seen sour cream, creamer for your coffee, and cheese. You know, cheese and milk are probably the biggest in the dairy category. The latest numbers I saw year-to-date through the end of October, cheese sales were up 14%," says Kemper. "And even fluid milk, which had been seeing some declines in previous years, is up almost over 2.5% which is pretty significant based on the size of the category."

Dairy farmers have been hit hard by the market free-fall over the past 5-6 years. Kemper says they’ve found a silver lining from the pandemic and is the momentum they’ve been looking for. She hopes the trend continues post-COVID.

"My job, I think, and the team that I work with at Midwest Dairy is to figure out a way to capitalize on the renewed interest in dairy. It’s provided a platform for us to have that conversation with consumers, and just kind of reinforce what they’ve believed all along and continuing to purchase dairy I think is probably our biggest opportunity ahead of us," she says. "So, we’d like to figure out a way to continue that momentum, as of course would our farmers."