Ontario dairy farmers take over marketing

Dairy Farmers of Ontario is building its own consumer marketing department now that it’s retaining marketing funds collected from farmers and not sending millions of dollars to Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s board gave notice in June 2017 that it would no longer pay its marketing funds to Dairy Farmers of Canada’s marketing department, based in Montreal, as of Jan. 1.

DFO asked DFC to prove a return on the more than $40 million investment Ontario farmers make in consumer milk marketing.

“We were not able to obtain this information from DFC in a way that met our objectives,” said DFO general manager Graham Lloyd.

He said DFO has appointed a group of dairy market experts and has started a search for a director of market development.

The expert group reported recommendations in December, said Lloyd, including that DFO should support milk product consumption in general. There’s a need to work directly with partners in retail and food services before promotions are created, along with developing a capital investment program to help reduce barriers to funding of programs, the group reported.

Lloyd says programs that are likely to be continued include the milk calendar, the elementary school milk program, provincial and community level programs and sponsorships.

Lloyd said DFO has already met with the Dairy Processors Association of Canada and the Ontario Dairy Council.

“The goal has to be with all of the programs, with some exceptions, is to increase demand for Canadian milk and dairy components,” he said.

Dairy farmers in the province will not market dairy to consumers for a period of time and some farmers at the DFO annual meeting questioned whether consumers will still see the type of advertising they were used to.

“It won’t be in all fancy ads,” he said. “We will be using data for certain to identify what markets are growing. We own that data so let’s use it.”

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