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DFW CEO Sees Recent Changes in Consumer Buying Trends
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/15/2020

The chief executive officer of Wisconsin's dairy check-off program says he is pleased with the amount of dairy products consumers are buying at the grocery store since the Coronavirus forced everyone to stay at home. On Tuesday's episode of The Dairy Signal, Chad Vincent of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin noted that milk, cheese and butter purchases have gone up considerably since mid-March.

"Over the past four weeks, Wisconsin dairy sales have been going through the roof," Vincent said on the program, which is streamed three days a week by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. "We are also pleased to see fluid milk sales going up, which has been on the decline for decades. But unfortunately, the growth in the grocery sector cannot make up in this short time period for what has happened in the food service and industrial side."

Vincent also reported that most of the stores have removed limits on the number of milk containers customers are allowed to buy during a single trip.

When asked what the check-off is doing to help improve dairy sales during the pandemic, he said they are working hard to get product to area food banks--which not only helps people in need, but keeps the food supply chain moving. He also said there's a national effort underway to get pizza makers to add more cheese to their products.

"Pizza chains are doing well because of their 'delivery method' of doing business," he noted. "We're also working with schools to get food and dairy out to the kids that come from lower income families."

Dr. Mark Stephenson, UW-Madison Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, was also back to discuss changes in the dairy market. He said despite the devastating prices in the U.S. dairy industry right now, global markets are starting to turn around.

"After a down tick in the past several months, we're seeing an up tick abroad," Stephenson said. "Trade is happening again in Asian countries; and other nations are finding that the COVID has plateaued and that their economies are getting back to normal."

And he echoed what others have been saying in terms of offering moral support to fellow producers as the crisis in farm country continues.

"A lot of farmers know that it's not possible for us to move the needle (and fix this immediately), but telling people that you understand what they are going through really goes a long way. Maybe we can't get face-to-face or put an arm around each other, but we can be there for one another."

PDPW's Dairy Signal series resumes on Wednesday. Each of the webcasts are streamed live at noon on or available on-demand for later viewing.

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