Blue cow designation boosts Canadian dairy

Parmalat and Agropur are making greater use of the logo on products, and other dairy processors in Canada are also considering using it

CALGARY — Canada needs more blue cows.

So says the Canadian dairy industry about the blue cow logo that can be affixed to domestic dairy products to inform consumers about origin.

Producers and processors say they have noticed greater consumer interest in buying Canadian dairy products since controversy associated with recent trade agreements caught their attention.

“We have certainly seen an outcry from the Canadian consumers” to identify domestic product, said Alberta Milk chair Tom Kootstra, speaking at the Nov. 21 annual meeting.

He said dairy processors Parmalat and Agropur are making greater use of the blue cow on products, and other processors are considering it as well.

“Certainly the smaller processors have embraced the blue cow as a marketing strategy, and we certainly appreciate that.”

Greater consumer interest and awareness is one dairy upside resulting from recent trade agreements between Canada, the European Union, Pacific Rim and United States.

Various social media posts encourage dairy producer support through purchase of Canadian products.

That may in part have sparked greater processor interest in blue cows.

“There is a strong perception here in Canada by Canadian consumers that we produce products of the highest quality. I think we will need to make sure that we sustain that image,” said Dairy Farmers of Canada policy and trade director Yves Leduc.

At the meeting, a dairy producer from Monarch, Alta., asked what would happen if Canadians bought only Canadian dairy products. That would mean imported product would stay on the shelf and companies would cease to import, Leduc responded.

That’s an unlikely scenario, but market research by IMI International indicates high consumer awareness of Canadian dairy and its advertising campaigns.

David Hudson, who leads the DFC account with IMI, said surveys indicate eight out of 10 Albertans perceive Canadian milk as the best in the world and 75 percent agree dairy farmers are good for the economy and critical to maintaining the integrity of dairy products.

Survey data also indicates consumers say they are willing to pay a premium for Canadian product, said Hudson, but saying and doing are two different things.

Among the most successful dairy campaigns of 2017 was an ad depicting kids on a bus to summer camp who break into tears when their milk is spilled.

That was one of eight dairy campaigns that ran in 2017.

In 2018, there was only one campaign, which ran online and in outdoor ads with no television spots.

Hudson said recognition of the DFC logo decreased as a result.

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