A new dairy checkoff growth program with pizza partners is expected to drive an additional 12-plus million pounds of cheese use.
The bulk of the cheese will be used internationally through an effort with a major quick-serve restaurant pizza chain and a U.S. cheese company. The pizza chain has opened its sourcing to U.S.-produced cheese suppliers as it seeks to return its business success to pre-COVID levels. The company also is leaning on the checkoff for strategic support to increase pizza consumption frequency in this market via advertising and marketing communications.
On the domestic front, Domino’s® has added Pepperoni Stuffed Cheesy Bread to its lineup of Stuffed Cheesy Bread. The oven-baked breadsticks are stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, covered in a blend of cheese made with 100% real mozzarella and cheddar, and seasoned with a touch of Parmesan and garlic.
“The checkoff’s relationships have always been an underpinning of our plan and our partners understand the challenges our farmers face with rising input costs that affect their bottom line,” said Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program. “They are stepping up with innovative ways we can collaborate to drive more sales of U.S.-produced cheese on their products.”
DMI supported Domino’s with consumer research, which helped make the Pepperoni Stuffed Cheesy Bread launch a success. This option received high consumer test scores and joins the chain’s Stuffed Cheesy Bread lineup, which debuted in 2011.
The checkoff also plans to work with Domino’s on an enhanced loyalty program that continues to have growing appeal with customers and will drive pizza and cheese sales.
“Domino’s values its partnership with DMI, as there would be no pizza without the hard work of dairy farmers around the U.S.,” said Kate Trumbull, Domino’s senior vice president – chief brand officer. “Thanks to them, we’re able to offer a variety of delicious, cheesy, craveable products to customers around the country.”
In addition to DMI, the efforts with Domino’s were supported by state and regional checkoff organizations American Dairy Association Mideast, Midwest Dairy and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. While these teams contributed directly to this effort, O’Brien said funding from the entire dairy checkoff network helps make these and other partnerships possible.
“This pizza growth program is just one example of the power of our national and local organizations working together,” O’Brien said.
The other pizza company the checkoff is working with on the international front has exclusively sourced its cheese from outside the U.S. The company is seeking to kick-start growth efforts and found a willing partner in the checkoff thanks to its longtime proven success in helping to grow U.S. pizza and cheese sales.
A marketing campaign begins in October and runs through March of 2024. Pizza remains a largely untapped opportunity in many global markets where it is often consumed about once a year. With consumer tastes rapidly shifting, it is a timely opportunity to support pizza growth internationally.
O’Brien emphasized the effectiveness of the checkoff’s strategy of working with leading quick-serve restaurant chains, who invest hundreds of millions on marketing efforts and advertising to promote their dairy-centric menu items. While these pizza-focused efforts are additions to the annual strategic plan, O’Brien said other restaurant partners continue to deliver sales-building successes, too.
Taco Bell announced its new permanent menu item, the Grilled Cheese Burrito, whose creation was led by the checkoff’s onsite food science team, after a successful run as a limited-time option. The burrito uses 11 times the amount of cheese that the chain’s regular taco does, and its success led to new flavors of the Grilled Cheese Burrito and expansion of this platform across the menu, including the Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco.
McDonald’s continues to enhance its McFlurry lineup with new flavors, including the Peanut Butter Crunch McFlurry, which is currently in market. The chain also had a successful launch this summer of the Grimace Shake, which generated large amounts of media coverage and social media interaction. These efforts are made possible with checkoff food science and marketing support.
“The checkoff has enjoyed longtime partnerships with the leading burger, pizza and Mexican quick-serve restaurants that have an astonishing reach of loyal customers, not just in the U.S. but abroad,” O’Brien said. “They understand quite well the value that dairy delivers to their menus, and they see how our checkoff resources and expertise can help them reach their business objectives to remain on top of their game.”
For more information about the dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com/for-farmers
About Dairy Management Inc.
Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) is funded by America’s 28,000 dairy farmers, as well as dairy importers. Created to help increase sales and demand for dairy products, DMI and its related organizations work to increase demand for dairy through research, education and innovation, and to maintain confidence in dairy foods, farms and businesses. DMI manages National Dairy Council and the American Dairy Association, and founded the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.