Dairy industry aims to adapt to trends, sustainability with store brands

Experts from Albertsons, Fair Trade USA and Dairy Management Inc. talked sustainability and innovation in the dairy category at the Sept. 29 Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages, now on demand for viewing.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture
a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Elizabeth Guthrie

The world of dairy products is rapidly changing, and industry players including private label companies are working hard to adapt, according to experts at the Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages held virtually Sept. 29.

The forum provided retailers a chance to listen and connect with private label industry experts. Hosted by Store Brands executive editor Dan Ochwat, the beverage forum consisted of four sections: coffee and tea, dairy, nonalcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages.

The event, now available on demand, began with a keynote address and a discussion on private label coffee and tea, followed by the dairy portion of the forum. Ochwat spoke with Molly Renaldo, partnerships manager at Fair Trade USA, Elizabeth Guthrie, senior director of product management for own brands at Albertsons, and Jacqi Coleman, senior vice president of partnerships at Dairy Management Inc.

According to the guest speakers, the dairy industry, including private brands, is working to innovate with new products as diary-alternatives are becoming more popular.

“The non-dairy alternatives are not only keeping customers in the dairy aisle, but they’re also bringing new customers into the category,” said Guthrie. “Many of our customers are seeking alternatives to traditional dairy. The market is rapidly changing, and we’re working to evolve to meet those consumer needs. Store brands are leaders in this space, and you’ll continue to see us adjust to meet those needs and expectations.”

a woman smiling for the camera
Molly Renaldo

As branded and private label dairy manufacturers try to keep up with the plant-based and dairy-free trends, there is also a large push for sustainability. The speakers said that private brands can play a key role in that shift.

“When we talk about private brands and how they can have an impact within the Fair Trade Certified dairy space, private brands help us drive the conversation,” said Renaldo. “They already have the connection with consumers, and we really look to private brands to be pioneers, and to help us say to consumers ‘you already have trust in us; this is something we see as an issue and this is how Fair Trade is a step forward.’ That really tends to drive consumers.”


a woman smiling for the camera
Jacqi Coleman

While the category is moving towards sustainability, it may come more slowly than other grocery categories.

“Sustainability within dairy falls into three different categories: environment, animal welfare, and community contributions,” said Coleman. “We’ve recently made some 2050 goals to become carbon neutral and address water quality and usage on our farms. We have a lot of farms of different sizes across the country, and so a lot of these practices needed to move in a more sustainable direction have barriers. We are working to identify partners to make those goals happen.”

Those already registered for the Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages can watch a webcast of the panel here, and it is available on demand for any non-registered viewer as well.