What Do 'Checkoff' Food Marketing Programs Actually Do?

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I'm catching up on reading and just ran across a report about the accomplishments of the dairy checkoff. This, you will no doubt recall, is the USDA-sponsored program that collects a "tax" from dairy producers and uses the funds for generic promotion of dairy products. What fills the folks running the checkoff with pride? Among them,

    • Focusing on dairy health and wellness by helping to combat childhood obesity by encouraging schools to implement physical activity and good nutrition, including dairy.

    • Partnering with Domino's Pizza to develop pizzas using up 40 percent more cheese than usual. This worked so well that other pizza chains are doing the same thing.

    • Partnering with McDonald's to launch McCafe specialty coffees that use up to 80 percent milk, and three new burgers with two slices of cheese per sandwich. The result? An additional six million pounds of cheese sold.

    • Creating reduced-lactose milks in order to bring lapsed consumers back to milk. The potential result? An additional 2.5 to 5 billion pounds of milk each year.

    • Partnering with General Mills's Yoplait to develop yogurt chip technology that requires eight ounces of milk. Maintaining momentum for single-serve milk by offering white and flavored milk in single-serve, plastic, resealable bottles.

As the person who sent this to me put it, you can't make this stuff up.


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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