Extension: Market dairy with labeling
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s ongoing series from the Value-Added Dairy Foods Working Group includes resources and webinars on various factors for dairy products.
Senior extension associate Sarah Cornelisse provides a range of business development and marketing information. Her webinar on using labels in marketing dairy foods to consumers contained numerous tips and techniques illustrating how labels can promote dairy products.
She first noted the required information on labels. The elements set forth the identity of the product, its contents, the ingredients and nutrients statements, data on the lot (for traceability), and the sell-by date.
Labels can provide special information on allergens, flavoring, ice cream, certifications, and nutrient and health claims.
Used effectively, labels create product interest. They can influence perception and acceptance, signal quality and desirable attributes, and stimulate potential premium prices.
The label should stand out from its competition. Using striking color, logos, telling our story and sharing helpful information can create trust in the company and its products. Ranking in this order—clear nutrition data, health benefits, preparation instructions, and telling a story—were listed by both online and in-store shoppers. Interestingly, and in using the same ranking, online shoppers were more likely to identify the attributes.
In developing a label, Cornelisse urged considering where the product will be sold such as a farmers market, gourmet retailer, or social media; what kind of packaging, whether jug, bottle, foil wrap, and more; and the consumer to be targeted. These factors determine income level or more importantly their price sensitivity.
To stand out, evaluate what draws a consumer’s eye.
A label can appeal to values, emotions, and beliefs. Credence claims, causes, are often used. Examples of sustainability, animal care, charities, and others have been shown by surveys to affect purchasing. She noted a survey in which 61 percent of consumers prefer brands aligned with their own values.
Generation Z persons (71 percent) indicated they would pay slightly more for a brand that “supports causes they are passionate about.” Also, 38 percent of frozen treat buyers agree they are more likely to buy if a brand takes a stand on a cause.
She cautioned that certifications of the producer’s values are essential. Examples include grass-fed declarations, fair trade assertions, and animal welfare claims.
She advised using symbols to show that certain requirements are met by the certifying body. Some FDA guidance of bioengineered and non-GMO foods must have documentation to prove products meet certification requirements.
The label can appeal to value without certification, however. “Homemade,” “woman led and founded,” “family farmed,” “local,” “by-gone recipe,” plus noting number of days on pasture, carefully crafted by conservation people, etc., can interest those drawn to nostalgia and specific attitudes.
Stories which report how the farm or company has started and progressed can be described.
Origin can play a role. Cornelisse reported that 74 percent of consumers enjoy trying new cheeses for instance. She suggested noting where the farm is located. Surveys have recognized the importance of location.
Sharing helpful information on the label that characterizes pairings using examples including wine and beer is frequently used with cheeses. Preparation ideas, and products are another concept that can spur sales.
For marketing, certain tools have proven results. Logos that are simple, memorable, flexible, appropriate, and timeless are desired.
Design attributes of layout, color, text, font and font size are particularly useful when consistent within the product, color and images. The bright colors of red, orange and yellow pull the customer’s attention.
For images, aim for simple and realistic. Cornelisse shared photos in which consumers chose simply a cow rather than a cow just looking at a huge glass of milk that was unrealistic.
In addition, a label can show what to expect. A cow identified as a Jersey on a yogurt that denotes cream on the top illustrates quickly.
Again, know the market and be sure to target it. Also, understand the market drivers that reveal the reasons people buy.
Products must comply with any U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulations.
Also, some states can require label approval. In Pennsylvania, the local milk inspector is recommended as the starting point.
FDA’s regulations and nutrition guidance documents can be accessed on their website. Due to COVID changes, it can be easier to simply search fda/gov to access the latest data.
Or, search “Labeling & Nutrition Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information/FDA.”
Also, the International Dairy Foods Association has a food labeling guide. Access it at idfa.org/knowledgecenter/manuals.
The Penn State’s extension team site at https://extension.psu.edu/food-safety-and-quality/dairy-food-processing contains additional resources.