Dairy Dialog podcast 45: Rabobank and Pack Expo

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pack expo, Pmmi, Rabobank, Milk

The podcast this week features two interviews. The first is with Thomas Bailey, executive director of dairy research at Rabobank North America, talking about Rabobank’s latest report, ‘Making Milk Cool Again.’

We also spoke with PMMI’s Laura Thompson, vice president, trade shows, and Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development, about the upcoming Pack Expo event in Las Vegas, Nevada, from September 23-25.  And there is our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton, from INTL FCStone.

Rabobank: Making Milk Cool Again

The fluid milk industry has been declining for years, up against consumers looking for more exciting, sustainable product innovations. Rabobank North America has analyzed the US fluid milk market in a new report, ‘Making Milk Cool Again.’

Fluid milk companies in developed markets are on the back foot with demand falling in North America and western Europe over the last 10 years, as broadly speaking, conventional milk has failed to reinvent itself, Rabobank said in the report. It adds, however, that in developing markets, milk’s nutritional value is of utmost importance.

Despite its declining popularity in the US, milk remains a pivotal product for retailers as grocery shoppers who buy milk tend to buy significantly more groceries in general than those who don’t. As such, milk is a focus for online retailers who have struggled to attract grocery shoppers. Retailer pricing wars, high rates of private label sales, falling sales, and growing competition from new dairy based and non-dairy based milks have reduced margins, making it tough for fresh fluid milk companies to rationalize investments in marketing and innovation, which is what it will take to turn the tide. 

The challenges milk currently faces are forcing an era of flux and self-discovery, driving innovation and development. Investors are getting involved, realizing the depth of potential in the category despite current challenges.

Rabobank does have a word of caution for investors, however.

Margins are thin, and only the most efficient and those with serious differentiation and branding can stay afloat. The good old days of high margin bulk milk are long gone, but there are opportunities for the bold, for UHT milks in developing markets, and for premium differentiated milks earmarked with sustainability and quality in developed markets.

Bailey told DairyReporter, “Where we have seen innovation from fluid milk products, we have seen traction with the consumers. But the problem is it’s different for the fluid milk players to come back, given that you kind of get caught in this downward spiral of margin compression.”

The rise of dairy competition has come in the form of ultrafiltered milks, a2 milks and plant-based alternatives, which outspend traditional dairy in branding and marketing. Consumers are also more concerned with the wellbeing of animals used in food and drink supply chains.

But milk still tests better than the alternatives in terms of taste, according to Bailey, but changes need to happen to keep the industry competitive. There’s no room for complacency, and innovation is key to success. Brands need to align with what people are looking for, and emphasize communication and transparency with their customers.

“Milk has a very long history within Western diets, and has been there for good reason. It has a lot going for it. We’ve seen some processors and manufacturers of milk get the story right, and they’ve been very successful, and I think we’re going to see more to come,”​ Bailey said.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO

PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019, which takes place from September 23–25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2019.

The largest packaging event in the world in 2019, PACK EXPO is produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. The 2,000 exhibiting companies will host an expected 30,000 attendees across the almost sold-out 900,000 net square foot exhibit floor, including 5,000 international visitors from more than 125 countries.

“We are excited to unveil our new show features that will add even more value for the industry professionals making the trip to attend,”​ Thompson said.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the attendee experience and provide access to the latest industry trends, thought leaders and maximize the networking at the show. What better way than offering more on-floor experiences and education to maximize time spent at the show.”

At the event this year are:

Robotics Zone

Innovation in automation is driving rapid developments in robotics. This year, PMMI has dedicated an entire zone in the North Hall to showcase some of the latest technologies in robotics to witness their capabilities and see them in action.

Upon arrival to the Robotics Zone, the PACK EXPO Omron Greeter Robot will welcome attendees. As part of this new zone, teams from Las Vegas high schools will showcase their robots in motion in the Future Innovators Robotics Showcase. Next, PACK for a Purpose: Robots Fighting Hunger, in collaboration with Blessings in a Backpack, will feature exhibitor robots showcasing a variety of different applications while packing food to feed kids on the weekends. Participating sponsors include Bosch, Chicago Electric with Yaskawa, Fanuc America, ProMach with ABB and Universal Robots. Blessings in a Backpack benefits children facing food-insecurity across Las Vegas and the US.

The Forum​, a growing staple in the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, makes its PACK EXPO Las Vegas debut in the Central Hall with its interactive industry knowledge exchange. The Forum offers free, 45-minute learning sessions on the latest industry trends, including hands-on activities, small group discussions and Q&A each day of the show.

After a successful launch in 2018 at PACK EXPO International, the PACKage Printing Pavilion​ will focus on the advantages of digital printing showcasing the latest in cost-effective solutions for smart, short-run, on-demand, cost-effective, variable data and personalized packaging.  It is also located in the Central Hall.

Technology Excellence Awards

The Technology Excellence Awards will recognize exhibitors’ innovative technology that has not yet been shown at a PACK EXPO and Healthcare Packaging EXPO in the previous calendar year. All registered attendees will be able to vote on their favorites among the finalists selected in specific market segments.

CareerLink LIVE @ PACK EXPO

CareerLink, PMMI’s online job board, is going live for the first time at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO in 2019. CareerLink LIVE @ PACK EXPO is an opportunity for PMMI, CPA, IoPP members and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to meet students and veterans pursuing careers in packaging and processing during one-on-one informational interviews.

Registration, which includes access to both PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, is $30 through Aug. 30 after which the price increases to $100. For more information and to register online, visit packexpolasvegas.com​ and hcpelasvegas.com​.

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