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Dairy Facts 2016
 
 

Dairy CEOs Outline Opportunities for Industry Innovation, Growth

Jan 31, 2018
L-R: Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of IDFA; Mike Wells, President and CEO of Wells Enterprises, Inc.; Sheryl Meshke, Co-President and CEO of Associated Milk Producers, Inc.; and Mike Haddad, President and CEO of Schreiber Foods, Inc.

A panel of CEOs from three major dairy companies concluded Dairy Forum 2018 last week with a look toward the future of the U.S. dairy industry. Joining moderator Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA, were Mike Haddad, president and CEO of Schreiber Foods, Inc.; Sheryl Meshke, co-president and CEO of Associated Milk Producers, Inc.; and Mike Wells, president and CEO of Wells Enterprises, Inc.

The panelists discussed the steps they’re taking today to help their companies meet the demands of tomorrow’s marketplace. They also shared their vision for ways the industry can collaborate, innovate and grow to flourish in the future.

Working Together

The CEOs agreed on the importance of collaboration between dairy companies and suppliers, as well as new partners outside of dairy.

Meshke of AMPI praised the work of IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation to submit a joint farm bill proposal. She encouraged the industry to “keep the momentum going” on more policy issues, such as adressing make allowances in the Federal Milk Marketing Order systems.

Wells of Wells Enterprises said collaboration between processors and producers is a great first step, but collaborating with partners outside of dairy is also important to make dairy products and services available to more consumers.

“Our need to collaborate outside of the confines of the industry we’re in today is getting critical,” Wells said. “Collaboration has to start from the inside out.”

Innovation

Innovation was another hot topic for the panelists. Haddad said the phrase “Respect the past, but don’t protect it” is often invoked at Schreiber Foods when discussing opportunities for innovation. He told attendees Schreiber Foods has spent more than $1 billion during his tenure on modern automation and added that “Innovation has to be something consumers care about and value and pay for.”

Wells agreed that companies must keep the consumer in mind when innovating. Meshke said that the way companies market their innovations is also important to maintaining brand integrity.  

Industry Growth

Wells stressed that he believes that innovation is the most important driver of growth for the industry. He said companies will have to find efficient ways to fuel these extra activities and innovations, and added that he expects to see some consolidation in the ice cream industry.

Associated Milk Producers, Inc. is in the midst of its largest growth period in 30 years, according to Meshke, who said it’s “more organic growth than acquisitions, and that it is being led by demand for the product and confidence in the milk supply.”

Haddad challenged the industry to adopt a more positive perspective to achieve more growth. “We’ve got a great product,” he said. “I think we’ve relegated ourselves to the position of playing not to lose, to protect what we have, versus playing to win.”

The links to presentations for download are located under My Profile, My Meetings (under Personal Information), Meeting Documents (under Dairy Forum).


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L-R: Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of IDFA; Mike Wells, President and CEO of Wells Enterprises, Inc.; Sheryl Meshke, Co-President and CEO of Associated Milk Producers, Inc.; and Mike Haddad, President and CEO of Schreiber Foods, Inc.

 
Dairy Delivers