Dairy Producers Bring New Life to the Movement Towards Humane and Sustainable Food

Adam Mueller, President and 5th Generation Family Member Minerva Dairy

With transparency at the forefront of consumers’ minds, the most effective way to prove animal welfare is through pasture-raised dairy

The Dilemma: Increased Options and a Broadening Category

Consumers have come to understand that terms like organic and grass-fed imply the animals are free to graze on a picturesque landscape. Regardless, a Packaged Facts survey revealed that 19 percent of consumers have only a general idea of what the term “grass-fed” means, while another 19 percent reported they don’t have a good idea of what the term “certified humane” means. This makes it clear that statements like “organic” and “grass-fed” can be misleading, giving shoppers the false sense that they are supporting sustainable and humane brands.


Furthermore, only 33 percent of shoppers view themselves as well informed about the claims made by many of today’s food brands. This gives the dairy category a prime opportunity to build trust with its consumers and demonstrate its compassion for animal welfare, particularly through pasture-raised dairy.

Consumers and Self-Education

As shoppers begin to feed their curiosity about the food industry, they will soon learn farm fresh milk is the only way to demonstrate your farming practices are as humane as your labels tout.

Cut through the clutter of dairy brands simply promising transparency. Ensure your dairy practices clearly represent your ethical and sustainable standards. This starts with the knowledge that the authenticity consumers are looking for can be found in pasture-raised products and a holistic approach to raising animals.


Do Your Part To Educate: Building Trust Between Dairy Producer and Consumer

Many have begun to question why consumers have a certain, often inaccurate, impression of the food system. Perhaps farmers and food companies haven’t yet fully engaged consumers in a way that addresses their underlying concerns.

So, with consumers in mind and with the desire to become accountable for the disillusion shoppers have with the food industry, how can the dairy industry do its part? While strides towards transparency have been made, there is still more work to be done.

Above all, consumers expect to be educated about their food and they expect to have a crystal clear image of who and where it is coming from. The dairy category and dairy producers, in particular, are in the unique position to take this challenge into their own hands. In fact, with authenticity driving many brands to rethink how they approach their food production, much of this work within the dairy industry begins with dairy producers.  As consumers become more health-focused, the food industry has embraced the opportunity to meet their increasing needs.

Through several high-impact strategies, dairy producers are poised to become part of a category that is most trusted by today’s discerning shoppers. Your next question may be, “how?”

The ‘How’: Cultivate Greater Authenticity Through Pasture-Raised Dairy

The pasture-raised category of dairy farming addresses the quality of life dairy cows are granted, as well as their freedom of choice. A pasture-raised farm ensures that pasture is available to its inhabitants year around. This doesn’t mean the cows are on the pasture every day. They have the choice to enjoy the elements or stay under shelter, depending upon the weather.

Family farms dedicated to pasture-raising their dairy cows understand that quality milk comes from healthy cows. For this reason, their cow care practices are centered on the cows’ health – as well as their comfort – rather than mass production.

By providing a clean environment, dry housing conditions, proper nutrition, sanitary milking procedures and veterinary recommended health programs, dairy cows cared for in a pasture-raised lifestyle are able to produce high quality, wholesome milk.

The Effects: Your Consumers Are Supporting Humane, Sustainable Brands

Consumers have not only expressed their respect for a humane way of dairy production, but they have also become vocal about the need for it.

In response to the question “What would you like to know from farmers about food production that you currently do not know?” 68 percent of respondents said they wanted to know what farmers are doing to ensure animal care (Demeter Communications). According to a Mintel Consumer Intelligence poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults, “the majority of consumers… want to know that the animals they eat have been treated well and raised in a safe and healthy environment.”

In 2018, more shoppers will begin to use their buying decisions as a way to vote for what they would like to see change within the food industry. Will they be able to say they’re making a significant impact on the issues of humane treatment and sustainability when they look for your dairy products?

Adam Mueller is the 5th generation buttermaker and President of Minerva Dairy (www.MinervaDairy.com), which produces 84% Slow Churned Amish Roll Butter, flavor-infused butters and a variety of cheese for deli and retail from pasture-raised milk, available nationwide.