Dairy industry targetting Gen Zers through online gaming | TheFencePost.com

Dairy industry targetting Gen Zers through online gaming

Dairy Management Inc.CEO Tom Gallagher, left, with Weld County, Colorado, dairy farmer Aric DeJager and one of his sons during a farm tour.
Photo courtesy Dairy Management Inc.

Gen Z’ers (15- to 20-year-olds) are the latest age-specific generation designated in a new dairy promotion checkoff partnership launched on National Farmers Day, which was Oct. 12.

Eager to reach Gen Zers through sustainable dairy farming methods, Dairy Management Inc. officials joined up with 29-year-old Weld County, Colorado, dairy farmer Aric DeJager to help connect with this generation who have increasing numbers of social media followers in the online gaming community.

From his rural Kersey, Colo., farm, Icon Holsteins, DeJager was joined by DMI CEO Tom Gallagher to announce the partnership they’ve begun with influential game-creators in order to showcase more agriculture, and have the gamers incorporate a dairy focus into a game like Minecraft (considered the best-selling video game to date) as a system for fitting pieces together to create something. They’ll also work with gamer Jimmy Donaldson of Kansas, whose YouTube videos like Mr. Beast (horror-thriller game) consistently garners millions of views (reported by DMI to reach 71.2 million total) to meet teens at the point where they are, in life.

“My goal is to show them around the dairy on my cellphone. I told my nieces and nephews who are impressionable, that there will be 40 million readers watching (the gamer) Mr. Beast build a dairy. I grew up playing, and although I just started a dairy and am busy with that, I do know about younger people.” DeJager’s dairy has focused on how robots create more connectivity. His dairy farm’s technology includes measuring how much cows need to eat in order to be healthy and more productive.

DeJager and Gallagher shared insights on this effort and how working with the Gen Z community will help grow trust and sales by bringing dairy’s story to these influencers and those who follow them.

“We are really excited to reach the Gen Z audience through the gamers who will travel to different dairies,” said Joanna Hunter, executive vice president, communications, DMI. “When you think about Gen Z and what they’re talking about, it’s about using less water, and what we do with manure management. Products won’t be front and center, but they’ll get exposure to milk.”

Nearly 90 percent of Gen Zers classify themselves as gamers, versus 59 percent of the general population. They are drawn to gaming for the social component and it increasingly has become an important source of information for Gen Z on topics, including sustainability.

“We’re doing cutting edge work with the Gen Z audience,” Gallagher said. “We had interns this summer who were college students and others. They said 90 percent of Gen Zer’s play the video game Minecraft, and participation between boys and girls is actually about even. We’re going to work with four very popular gamers.”

Other gamers now working with the dairy industry are Brianna Playz, Brianna Arsement-Barnhart (6.9 million total reach), whose grandfather was a dairy farmer and whose husband Preston Playz, Preston Arsement (35.6 million total reach) who have also created content for YouTube for several years. Preston’s games include Minecraft, Fortnite and Call of Duty (a first-person shooter video game franchise that first focused on games set in World War II). In 2020, he was nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Gamer, demonstrating his resonance with the Gen Z audience. Preston and Brianna are based in Dallas, Texas.

“They are really excited to work with America’s dairy farmers and think they can work in a different way,” Hunter said. “In Minecraft, there are a lot of farms, and the audience gets excited about cows, so they were really in favor of it. We didn’t box them in with certain criteria — just that people are really connected to their dairy animals, and they’ll learn even more about the farms.”


So, over the next couple of weeks, continuing into November, project officials say the gamers dairy sustainability stories will begin airing online.

“What we understand about sustainability — it’s not just sustainability for sustainability sake,” Gallagher said. “It needs to be profitable and we’re working on test cases on various farms, or what needs to change. Farmers need to be proactive in telling what they do, and I believe we could avoid any negatives, and focus on profitability.”

Colorado is 13th in U.S. milk production from the state’s 120 dairy farms, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture 2019 statistics through Dairy MAX. There are 186,000 milk cows in Colorado. The average value of milk from one Colorado dairy cow in one day is about $12.53.

Gallagher also said they’re working with the National Football League on a dairy project. Further details are expected by late November. Meanwhile, gaming will also be promoted with Dairy’s Fuel Up to Play 60, a school nutrition and exercise program launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL in collaboration with USDA to improve health.

Also on National Farmers Day, the dairy industry introduced two other new dairy developments — the checkoff-founded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy unveiled the Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort that will help any size U.S. dairy farm implement new technologies and practices. It’s part of their stewardship goals to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050. Organization officials say the plan is endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers.

“The entire dairy community, from farmers and cooperatives to processors, household brands and retailers is leveraging U.S. dairy’s innovation, diversity and scale to drive continued environmental progress and create a more sustainable planet for future generations,” Mike Haddad, chairman of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy said in a statement.

Also new on National Farmers Day, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced Nestlé has joined the U.S. Dairy Industry in its effort toward carbon neutrality by committing up to $10 million and has agreed to a multi-year partnership in support of the Net Zero Initiative to help make sustainability practices and resources more affordable for farmers.

DMI officials say, with brands like Carnation, Stouffer’s and DiGiorno, Nestlé brings a wealth of knowledge and industry leadership to the table, and a commitment to supporting U.S. dairy farmers in environmental advancements and technology.

“Supporting and enabling farmers through the Net Zero Initiative has the potential to transform the dairy industry,” said Jim Wells, chief supply chain officer for Nestlé USA, in a statement. “Scaling up climate-smart agricultural initiatives is key to Nestlé’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will help reduce the carbon footprint of many of our brands.”

Heartfelt thanks go out to all America’s farmers on National Farmers Day, and every day.

Farmers who want more information about Net Zero or for other questions related to sustainability, go to innovationcenter@usdairy.com or https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/h989r321c/gm80jk43m/r494w897r/mkpr0920.pdf. ❖

— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at rotatingstorm2004@yahoo.com.