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Dairy farmers of Canada: How proAction is helping the next generation of Canadian dairy farmers connect with today’s consumers

Published on 30 June 2022

As the next generation of Canada’s dairy farmers prepare to take over the family business, they are operating in a vastly different market than generations before them.

These young dairy farmers are part of the largest cohort of Canadians – millennials – and being able to connect with the values of today’s consumers will be key to their success.

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Millennials – and coming up behind them, Generation Z – are values-based decision-makers. When it comes to their purchase power, social considerations can trump all others: Research has shown they attribute more weight to values-based factors, like animal welfare and the environment, than things like price or taste. To stay abreast of this changing consumer landscape and better understand generational mindsets, Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) conducts extensive third-party market research, monitoring market trends, consumption patterns and consumer attitudes towards dairy.

What we’ve learned is: Today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it’s produced and under what conditions. They want the brands they support to genuinely care about the same things they do. And they demand proof of this.

Opportunities to connect with young consumers

When nine out of 10 Canadians recognize DFC’s Blue Cow logo as a signifier of dairy excellence, we have a strong position out in front of young consumers, and this is where proAction comes in.

As you know, proAction is the Canadian dairy industry’s quality assurance program. It is mandatory on all Canadian dairy farms and provides a framework for high standards of practice and care in dairy farming.

Under proAction, Canadian dairy farmers show, in a transparent and demonstrable way, how we adhere to some of the most stringent standards in the world for milk quality, animal care, food safety, biosecurity, traceability and environmental sustainability.

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It’s the rigorous standards behind the program that make it such a valuable tool for our industry.

Take sustainability – at the forefront of current concerns for young people at home and around the world. Canada’s next generation of dairy farmers are no different; they want to pass down the family farm to their children, just as their parents and grandparents did before them. So how can our young farmers prove to consumers that they care about the planet too? By pointing them in the direction of the Blue Cow and by extension – to proAction.

“Canada’s dairy farmers produce the highest-quality dairy, all while caring for their animals and supporting environmental sustainability,” says Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau. “Through proAction, dairy farmers have done excellent work in implementing mandatory standards as they strive for continuous improvement and build trust with Canadians, so they know how the milk they love is produced.”

The changing face of the food business

Being able to meet the needs of consumers who question where their food comes from is imperative not just for producers but also processors. Dairy processors and retailers alike are also pivoting their business strategies to meet the needs of Canada’s new landscape. The face of the food business is changing, and brands seek to align with suppliers that represent this forward-thinking, sustainable and conscious mindset. Multinational organization Unilever, for example, has established one of the most ambitious sustainability plans ever undertaken by a company of their size, and here in Canada, brands like Lactalis – one of the largest in our country – recognize their responsibility for environmental stewardship as a proud supporter of the Canadian dairy industry and our farmers.

“Lactalis Canada and the Blue Cow logo go hand-in-hand, as we both stand for high-quality dairy,” says Gilles Froment, senior vice-president, government and industry relations, Lactalis Canada. “Our brands benefit greatly from leveraging this iconic symbol underpinned by proAction, the industry’s robust quality assurance and continuous improvement program under which Canadian dairy farmers demonstrate the highest standards in areas such as food safety, environmental sustainability and animal care.”

As we move deeper into the 21st century, proAction will play an even more essential role for Canadian dairy farmers – of all ages – because not only will consumers demand these high standards in the products they choose to include in their ever-tightening budget, retailers and processors will expect their partners to provide proof of meeting or exceeding their own high standards.

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proAction is more than just a quality assurance program; it is proof positive that the next generation of Canada’s dairy farmers, just like the many generations before them, are and have always been willing to go above and beyond when it comes to feeding our nation. end mark

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) is the national policy, lobbying and promotional organization representing Canadian dairy producers. DFC strives to create stable conditions for the dairy sector in our country. It also seeks to maintain policies that promote the sustainability of Canadian dairy production and promote dairy products and their health benefits. Visit Dairy Farmers of Canada for more information.

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