OAK BROOK, ILL. – Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and Innovation Center for US Dairy chief executive officer Barbara O’Brien said during the 2022 Dairy Sustainability Alliance Spring Meeting that the dairy checkoff has identified significant opportunities for the US dairy industry to innovate and impact sustainability.

“Never has the opportunity been greater for us to come together and demonstrate our collective impact,” O’Brien said while speaking at the event. “And frankly, never has it been more urgent as we work to meet the growing demands and expectations of both customers and consumers around personal wellness, environmental sustainability and food security.”

She pointed to new digital frontiers and marketplaces, evolving definitions of health and wellness, and other areas in which US dairy has the potential to lead.

With digital technologies and marketplaces advancing, O’Brien said by 2025 one out of five dollars spent in the grocery channel will be via digital transaction. She also said technology is helping change how people approach health and wellness, with the pandemic accelerating that movement. She said 60% of American consumers reported in one survey that they use food as medicine to manage or prevent health conditions.

Additionally, O’Brien spoke on impact imperative, explaining that consumers have expectations of dairy and other businesses to address societal challenges. The concept of “purpose over profit” is tied to climate change concerns and other social and market forces that have consumers expecting transparency and accountability from companies.

Along those lines, O’Brien brought up inclusive relevance, with Gen Z expecting companies and brands to meet their expectations about diversity and inclusion.

The Dairy Sustainability Alliance includes more than 165 companies and organizations. At its meetings, representatives exchange ideas and best practices and look for solutions that will help the industry make progress toward sustainability goals. Per DMI, more than 270 representatives attended the spring meeting in person or virtually.

Within the alliance, 35 companies, which represent more than 75% of US milk production, have adopted the US Dairy Stewardship Commitment, supporting farmers, cooperatives and processors that voluntarily advance sustainability leadership and transparently report progress.