Innovation, added-value help offset inflation threats in dairy – but what do consumers want?

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dairy Sustainability Innovation functional benefits

Dairy innovation that delivers added-value is becoming increasingly important as inflation rises and shoppers look to justify higher prices for products across the board – including for staples, such as dairy, that previously may taken for granted their status as ‘must haves.’

According to the most recent data consumer price index update in April, the amount shoppers are paying for dairy consumed at home has surged 7% in the past year, with some categories hit harder than others.

For example, over the past year, the weighted average price for a gallon of conventional milk increased from $2.56 to $3.78 last month and the weighted average price a 32-ounce container of organic yogurt jumped to $3.81 from $3.25. While the weighted average price of an 8-ounce block of conventional cheese fell from $2.67 to $2.43, according the US Department of Agriculture.

The dip in the price of cheese may reverse as recent wholesale dairy product prices inch up across all categories, except dry whey, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook report for April. It reports that prices for 40-pound blocks of cheddar cheese rose 22 cents to $2.20 from the week ending March 5 to the week ending April 2. Prices for butter and nonfat dry milk also rose 10.2 cents and 4 cents respectively in the same time to $2.79 and $1.82 per pound.

For the past year, manufacturers and retailers have worked to offset inflation through a variety of strategies, including passing some price on to consumers. And while demand and the consumer have held strong so far, as savings and stimulus money drain and inflation becomes more widespread consumers’ ability to absorb higher prices without making trade-off may be dwindling.

To protect against potential sales losses, dairy manufacturers are leaning more heavily on innovation to meet evolving consumer needs. But what are consumers looking for? And where is the market saturated versus ripe for disruption?

FREE WEBINAR May 18: Dairy trends: from zero-sugar to animal-free

To find out, FoodNavigator-USA will gather a panel of experts on May 18 at 12 noon Eastern time ​for a free one-hour webinar exploring the evolution of the dairy category.

During the panel discussion, Dairy Trends: From zero-sugar to ‘animal free’​, ​we will take a close look at the impact on the dairy category of macro trends, including the pandemic, inflation and the ongoing geopolitical issues, as well as the potential for dairy to tap into rising consumer demand for functional benefits, enhanced sustainability and animal-free options.

We will also explore how stakeholders can make the most of their innovations and better connect with consumers through enhanced storytelling – a strategy that could help push back against the threat of commoditization.

To help break down these topics and shine a light on what is next for the dairy segment, the video webinar will feature a stellar line-up of guests, including:

  • Takoua Debeche, chief research & innovation officer at Danone North America
  • Ben Laine, dairy analyst, Rabobank
  • Fred Schonenberg, founder and CEO, VentureFuel
  • John Talbot, CEO, California Milk Advisory Board
  •  Paul Kollesoff, CEO and co-founder, The Urgent Company

Learn more about our free webinar and register HERE​, ​where you can also submit your burning questions about what is trending in the dairy industry, what challenges are ahead where there is opportunity for growth.


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