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IDFA’s Dykes: Consumer tastes have changed

ORLANDO — Michael Dykes, the new president and the CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, told industry's executives at the group's annual Dairy Forum here today that times have changed and they must adjust to emerging consumer tastes and a more diverse population.

Dykes, who became CEO in January after retiring as the head of Monsanto's Washington office, said people too often refer to changing consumer tastes as "craziness" and ask "When are we going to get back to the way we were?"

"We are not going back there and it is going to continue to change," Dykes said. "We are in a new food culture."

Food today "has emotions around it," he said. Millennials — people who have reached adulthood in the 21st century — have passed baby boomers in percentage of the population and they have different views on food.

Noting that younger consumers care about issues such as sustainability and animal welfare, Dykes said, "Consumers today are looking for food with a story, they want to know about it."

Tetrapack President and CEO Carmen Becker, who introduced Dykes, made the same point.

Becker noted that the days of people eating three meals a day as a family are gone. Instead they are eating more, smaller meals and the industry needs to develop products that respond to that interest.

"People want single-serve opportunities," Becker said. "This doesn't mean putting milk into a single-serve."

Dairy is a natural, healthy, nutritious, minimally processed food, she said, but the question is how to fit in with evolving consumer attitudes.