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What’s in a label?

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Lactalis, one of the largest dairy processors in Canada will soon carry the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s (DFC) iconic blue cow logo. Nearly all Canadians are familiar with at least one product from amongst the company’s many offerings which include Black Diamond, Balderson and Cracker Barrel labels. Lactalis joins other major Canadian dairy producers such as Agropur, Gay Lea and Arla Foods in proudly displaying this symbol of True North quality. 

With the addition of the Lactalis products, the logo can be found on more than 8,000 products offered nationwide. The new logo, which replaced cartoon cow branding in 2017, can be found on food packaging as well as in businesses such as coffee shops and theatres. With nearly three of every four Canadians prefering to purchase dairy products featuring Canadian milk the logo makes identifying these products quick and easy.  

According to Pierre Lampron, President of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, “The blue cow logo is one of the most recognized brands in Canada – it provides clarity to consumers that the dairy products they buy are made from 100% high-quality milk produced with care by Canadian farmers.”  The logo’s cow stands majestically and proudly displays the nation’s iconic maple leaf with the bright blue colour representing the fresh, purity of milk.  

The certification of origin logo ensures that consumers can easily identify Canadian-made products produced with Canadian milk. Purchasing products featuring this label supports Canadian dairy farmers who are committed to ensuring their animals are well cared for, sustainability, food safety and nutrition. The logo is supported by the industry’s proAction® quality assurance program. 

proAction® standards and practices help to ensure that Canadian milk products are amongst the best in the world. As a result, milk produced on Canadian farms is 100% free of antibiotics and rbST, an artificial growth hormone and subject to licensing and inspections to ensure compliance. Farmers know the genetic, genomic and production analysis specific of each cow. They work with experts to ensure the health and well-being of their stock including access to veterinary services and working with experts to improve feed efficiency or the balance of elements needed for herd health, milk production and the environment.  

proAction® standards relating to sustainability and the environment have helped to reduce the carbon footprint of the Dairy industry. The industry’s impact consists primarily of livestock management, manure management and feed production, and through continued innovation and research farmers have been able to reduce carbon levels to one of the lowest levels globally — .92kg of CO2 per litre. Farmers utilize a balanced diet for their herd which can lower nitrogen content in manure, as well as reducing methane produced during their cow’s digestive processing. Some farmers are even using biodigesters to convert methane produced by their livestock into electricity!

Dairy Central is proud to carry products that feature the DFC label and all that it represents. 


The Dark Side of Lab-Grown “Milk”

Consumers opt for plant-based foods for many reasons– perceptions of health benefits, concerns about the ethics of consuming animals or concerns about the environment. This trend has food producers partnering with niche companies to use ultra-processing and fermentation technology to create inexpensive food components (e.g. proteins, starches and oils) which can be used to produce trendy items with substantial profit margins. One thinker opined that “veganism is a capitalist industrial dream [of] boxed products [and] ultra-processed fake foods that are completely disconnected from nature.” 

The company, Perfect Day Inc., for instance, has successfully used genetically modified microflora in a fermentation process to generate whey and casein all without actually relying on cows to produce it. They claim that the resulting products are identical to conventional cow’s milk but are vegan and lactose-free. Some scientists speculate there is not enough information to know if this kind of food production is actually safe. 

This technology could be devastating to the dairy industry as detailed in a report from American think tank – RethinkX. They posit that by 2030 “modern food products will cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace,” predicting that the dairy market will be particularly hard-hit, shrinking by 90% of sales by volume. The cost of fermentation technologies has plummeted dramatically from $1m USD per kilo in 2000 to $100 in 2019, and are expected to reach rates of $10 per kilo by 2023, resulting in lab-produced protein materials that are five times cheaper by 2030. 

These inexpensive ingredients are extremely attractive for companies looking to boost sales margins — cheaper materials combined into trendy in-demand items makes this technology hugely attractive to businesses looking to bring in larger profits. Companies could replace proteins found in a wide number of food products from fruit and vegetable waxes to processed meats and even sugars. The global marketplace is already experiencing a surplus of milk proteins from conventional sources and these substances would further saturate the supply. 

Whether these lab-produced proteins would actually be more environmentally-friendly is unclear. Reproducing milk proteins in a lab would appear to offer a streamlined process that reduces the space and resources needed for conventionally-raised dairy, but the true carbon footprint of large multinational corporations controlling the generation, processing, and transport of these substances is unknown. What happens when real food is a distant memory? Is that the kind of future we are facing?

Synthesized milk-components also come at a cost to local economies and the livelihoods of many reliant on animal husbandry throughout the world. Tangible evidence points to the importance of animal-based proteins in economically-struggling countries. Drinking milk has been shown to particularly benefit malnourished children.  Raising livestock provides a source of nutrition as well as economic security. 

The impact of advocating for “plant-based” eating is widespread — influencing farmers at a local level; shifting the recommendations of international organizations; and reverberating within countries struggling with malnourishment and hunger. So-called “Big Business” have a vested interest in promoting food policies that can benefit their bottom-line. By heavily advocating for plant-based alternatives they are able to piggy-back on consumer concerns about climate change and health outcomes. These lab-grown food materials may prove to be more harmful to local food economies and result in reduced access to wholesome and nutrient-dense foods rather than provide a solution to issues of hunger and malnourishment. Whether consumers will actually purchase lab-grown products rather than conventionally-raised ones is questionable, particularly as the conversation turns towards understanding the darker side of this technology. 

Canadian Dairy Meets Consumer Demands with Ultra-Filtered Milks

Over the last few years, non-dairy milk trends have been on the rise. Most people believe that consumer interests in healthy living, nutrition, and concerns about sustainability, have brought on this change, but that’s not necessarily true. A recent report by the CBC examined the nutritional advantages of both alternative milk products and traditional cows milk, to find that consumer perceptions are not accurate. 

For many consumers, protein is a driver when determining which beverage to purchase.  A 2018 survey conducted by Maru/Blue found that more than 25% of Canadians purchased milk alternatives specifically because they were seeking an added source of protein. 43% of consumers were purchasing milk for its protein and nearly 30% wished milk had more protein. 

These stats highlight a common and erroneous belief amongst consumers that plant-based alternatives offer a greater source of protein than cow’s milk. For instance, almonds (when unadulterated) offer a high level of protein so, most people believe almond milk is full of protein too. But the truth is, when converted to milk products, only traces of the macronutrient proteins remain. A glass of cows milk contains 8-9 grams of protein, while almond milk only offers 1-2. 

In addition to marketing the health-benefits of selecting cow’s milk as a source of protein, several companies are now producing all-Canadian dairy products that tout protein contents. Saputo and Coca-Cola were early entrants into the Canadian dairy market with their “ultra-filtered” milks, called Joyya and Fairlife respectively. Philippe Duhamel, Saputo’s vice-president for strategic business development, describes the innovative process which “separates the milk components to concentrate the nutrients already found in milk, while also reducing the lactose.” The resulting products contain about 25% fewer dairy sugars (lactose) and significantly more protein. This type of research and dairy production serve to show Canadian Dairy, lead by companies such as Joyya and Fairlife, is ready to adapt to new demands.

Lactantia is the newest contender in the “Ultra-filtered” market offering up their new Canadian UltraPur products in 1.5L bottle formats.  Options offered include both traditional 2% and chocolate 1% versions. Both products boast of 50% more protein and 25% less lactose sugar versus traditional milk. The chocolate version also avoids the use of sucralose and other artificial sweeteners. This new product builds upon Lactantia’s PurFiltre line which is processed to remain fresh longer than traditionally pasteurized milk with no added preservatives. 

In addition to the nutritional benefits offered by this product, UltraPur milks are packed in environmentally-friendly BPA-free, recyclable bottles which are designed to keep out UV and Visual spectrum lights. This latter characteristic is particularly valuable as researchers out of Newcastle University have reported that light exposure such as the LED lighting in supermarkets is reducing key nutrients in milk such as Vitamin A, Riboflavin and VItamin D. 

Canadian Dairy continues to push limits to provide some of the best milk products in the world.


Millennials Still Love Milk


Non-dairy beverages and other “mylks” are growing in popularity amongst millennial consumers. Millennials often embrace these plant-based products because they are marketed as being nutritious, eco-friendly and sustainable. Although milk consumption per capita in Canada has declined in recent years, these trends do not necessarily substantiate the common misconception that millennials are done with dairy. 

Millennial consumers are generally concerned with three aspects of milk — how healthy it is, the welfare of animals within the industry and the impact of dairy farming on the environment. The Dairy Farmers of Canada 2019 marketing campaign features a series of advertisement strategies aimed at addressing common concerns about dairy and shattering popular misconceptions. For example, the “Dairy Farming Forward” campaign highlights how technology and innovation are increasing sustainable farming practices and reducing the environmental impact of the industry. 

The most recent advertisements are entitled “Milk. It’s in the stuff you love” and features an awkwardly, endearing, googly-eyed glass of milk reminding consumers that many of their favourite products are produced from Canadian milk – from cheese and ice cream to butter and yogurts.  The humourous commercials aim to connect at an emotional level with the viewer and to establish milk as a key element of consumers’ favourite meals, beverages and snacks.

So while consumers may no longer be settling down with a tall, cold glass of milk, they are consuming it as a component of any number of other foods and beverages they enjoy. A fantastic example of this is cheese. While plant-based products exist they are often criticized for their taste and texture — something consumers are not willing to compromise. In the United States, for instance, millennial consumers are eating three-times as much natural cheese than consumers did in the 1970s. These consumers are also shunning processed cheese products in favour of nutritional impact from ingredients they recognize and can pronounce. Ingredients like quality Canadian milk!

According to the Nourish Report, a major food trend for 2019 is the shift from plant-based products to the rise of the “Conscious Carnivore” and “Ethical Protein”. It is unsurprising then, to learn that when millennials consume milk as a beverage they focus on purchasing organic products that align with their environmental and animal care concerns. In 2016-17, Canadian producers meet consumer demand to the tune of around 1.21 million litres of organic milk. Manufacturers are increasingly promoting dairy’s high protein and the industry’s focus on animal welfare– helping to solidify milk as an excellent choice for a picky, well-informed consumer. 

Millennials are also eager to consume milk in new and innovative ways, whether it be milk vodka or beer brewed with milk sugars called fittingly “Milkshake IPAs.” 

So are millennials done with dairy? The data says far from it. Canadian Dairy continues to thrive as new and interesting products containing milk are developed — and consumer demands for ethical, sustainable practices are met.   


Canadians Clamouring for Cheese


The term “black market” calls to mind “the” illicit, difficult to procure and illegal. It might surprise you to learn of an underground audience for one of Canada’s favourite foods – cheese! Cheese has long been targeted by shoplifters for personal or resale use, and lately, that theft has scaled.

Thieves wanting a bit more “cheddar” recently concocted an elaborate scam on one of Canada’s leading cheese companies. The carefully orchestrated theft took place on the morning of August 9th, 2019, when an individual arrived at the Saputo Dairy Products facility in Tavistock, Ontario and presented fraudulent shipping paperwork. Over $187,000 worth of Canadian cheese was loaded onto a transport truck believed to be headed to New Brunswick. The goods never arrived. Investigators encouraged business owners to be vigilant and report any instances of back-alley cheese dealing.

Cheese is big business in Canada — trends show an increase in cheese production: 509.92 kg in 2018 up from 497.28 in 2017, and consumption– from 13.87 kg in 2017 to 14.65 kg in 2018. Retail sales continue to see positive trends in this industry. 

In 2017, two companies were responsible for over 45% of the Candian Cheese market — Montreal’s Saputo Inc and the American-based Kraft Heinz Company.  However, in 2018 Canadian-based Parmalat successfully negotiated a deal to secure Kraft’s Canadian natural cheese business.  In doing so, Parmalat is able to both secure jobs and farm revenue — adding 400 employees to their current payroll of 3,000 and taking ownership of a production facility located in Ingleside, Ontario. This sale increases the market share of Canadian-based cheese producers operating domestically and helps to ensure that Canadian Dairy producers continue to supply milk for this production.

The major question is what impact the United States Mexico Canada Agreement will have on Canada’s cheese industry.  In 2018, Canada exported 9.45 million kgs of cheese with an estimated export value of $64 million CAD. However impressive this statistic, the industry currently operates at a massive trade deficit with 31.5 million kgs being imported primarily from Italy, France and the United States. This is despite imposed tariffs on imported cheeses under Canada’s supply management system.

Whether imported, exported, shoplifted or purchased illicitly it is clear that the demand for cheese is substantial. This suggests that there are opportunities to further increase the marketing and exporting of Canadian-produced cheese. 

To learn more about Canadian Dairy, check out our other blog articles here.

Dairy Farmers of Canada gets Recognition for Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is on everyone’s lips these days, as environmental concerns grow in an increasingly conscious nation. So when the Dairy Farmers of Canada received international recognition from Unilever for its sustainability practices, we felt it deserved special praise. 

In 2010, Unilever launched the Sustainable Agriculture Code, which has become a major tool in sustainable sourcing programs. The code is basically a collection of practices that help codify important parts of sustainable farming practices. Unilever works with farmers and suppliers to improve international standards for food across the globe. 

The Dairy Farmers of Canada was awarded the equivalency of the Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Code after careful examination between the code and the ways dairy is produced in Canada with consideration to environmental regulations and labour laws and the national supply management system, as well as the commitments made and being carried out through proAction®, DFC’s robust quality assurance program. 

A few ways the Dairy Farmers of Canada contribute to making dairy production a healthy, sustainable practice, include their commitment to incredible animal care and a heightened awareness of the environmental impact. In fact, last year Canadian Dairy was able to reduce its carbon impact to 0.92kg of CO2 per litre, which is one of the lowest in the world.

Canadian Dairy is Committed to a Sustainable Future

In the last few years, the Dairy Farmers of Canada have made significant efforts to better communicate what this industry is about and the priorities and values it shares. In order to create a sustainable, healthy future for dairy here in Canada, the dairy industry has focused on two important factors: animal care and environmental impact. 

Animal Care

Number one is incredible animal care. Not only do healthy, happy animals make the best milk – it’s simply the right thing to do. That knowledge and commitment, then, shifts a neutral or negative perspective towards the dairy industry, into a positive one for potential customers and future generations. 

The Dairy Farmers Association of Canada invests a lot of time and research into ensuring animal care is up to par or exceeds that standard. All farmers in Canada have access to the genomic data for each cow’s history, which allows them to monitor and care for the animals’ health and welfare. 

The Dairy Farmers of Canada and National Farm Animal Care Council adhere to a set of standards and measurable goals called proAction, one of which is a “constant dedication to improving our methods” and commitment to quality of care for our animals. 

Environmental Impact

Many farms are passed down through generations in Canada, so there’s an understanding that the land they occupy isn’t theirs alone. It is the farmer’s duty to safeguard it for the future. As environmental concerns come to a head in 2019, farmers are working more than ever to ensure they do what is necessary to help reduce their carbon footprint. Canadian farmers use supply management to meet the demands of the Canadian market, ensuring minimal waste and a level of production that meets the demand, not exceeding it. Through careful analysis and research, Canadian dairy farmers have lowered the industry’s carbon impact to 0.92kg of CO2 per litre – which is one of the lowest in the world.

Adherence to these regulations and continued efforts to reduce impact and improve animal care will propel the dairy industry into a sustainable future for generations to come.

women feeding cows in country side

Niche Dairy Demands

Last year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said they’d be reviewing the Canadian definition of “vodka,” which – initially required it be made from grain or potatoes. That change happened last week.

This may provide a good opportunity for Candian Dairy to get out from behind declining milk sales. Omid McDonald’s milk-based alcoholic beverage “Vodkow” has been in the works since November, but made it on LCBO shelves a few weeks ago.

Milk-based vodka looks like any normal vodka, but is made from milk permeate – the stuff leftover after fats and proteins are removed for products like butter and cheese. Most companies throw it away.

It’s also lactose free.

Brands like Black Cow and Bertha’s Revenge have been around for a while, but Vodkow is the first Canadian brand to hit the market. As consumer concerns for dietary restrictions and sustainable living continue to grow, exploring opportunities such as this niche market could really benefit Canadian Dairy.



5 Bottles You Didn’t Know Had Milk in Them

Is Milk Good for You? Breaking down Milk Myths

Since the release of the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide, conversations about the relevance of dairy products have been circulating the web. Some nutritionists have gone so far as to claim that milk is actually very bad for you and people should cut it out of their diets altogether. Below, we break down these claims.

1. Milk is not good for you.

Milk is a crammed full of nutrients. A 200ml glass has 8 grams of protein, 300 mg of calcium, iodine, potassium, phosphorous and vitamins B2 and B12. A moderate intake of milk is highly beneficial to your diet. As young adults, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are necessary to build a strong and dense bone structure and essential for other biological functions. These same nutrients are needed through adulthood. If we are low on these nutrients and can’t get them through our diets, calcium and phosphorus are withdrawn from our bones which weakens their integrity.
So yes, milk is good for you in moderation.

2. Milk will make you gain weight.

Milk is high in saturated fats. Choosing milk that is 2% fat or less allows us to ingest the same nutrients without consuming excessive fat.
So yes, some milk can make you gain weight. Choose lower fat milk products.

3. Most people are allergic to milk

Milk does not cause digestion issues, but some people cannot digest milk. If you get an upset stomach after drinking dairy, avoid it. Most people who get upset after milk don’t have enough lactase enzymes to break down the milk sugar. It is very rare to actually be allergic to milk, which means you cannot digest the milk’s protein, casein. Many people think they are lactose intolerant after eating large amounts of milk or cheese – but large amounts of anything make humans sick.
No, most people are not allergic to milk.


Brown Cows Don’t Make Chocolate Milk: A History of Dairy

Dairy Farming has been an essential element of domestic life for thousands of years, but few of us know how today’s milk cartons went from feral herds to milk cartons on grocery shelves. In fact, according to a survey from the Innovation Center for US Dairy, 7% of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. For context, that’s about 17.3 million people.

Just to make ourselves perfectly clear, brown cows do NOT produce chocolate milk.

So let’s dive into the history of milk.

Around 12,000 years ago, the agricultural revolution began, where nomadic tribes started settling into location dependent communities. At this time, people began to domesticate animals and use by-products like milk. This includes goats, sheep, and cows milk. For a long time, goat and sheep milk were the most commonly consumed because they required less sustenance and could adapt to harsher conditions.

By 500 CE, Nordic and Germanic settlements across Europe bred small dairy herds to support the needs of their villages.  In Europe, around the fourteenth century, cows milk surpassed the popularity of goats and sheep based on the sweeter taste.

The first dairy cows were brought to North America in the early 1600s, as colonies popped up across eastern Canada and the United States.

In the late 1800s, Lois Pasteur invented the first pasteurization tests, which revolutionized the safety of milk. Pasteurization allows for storing and distribution of milk beyond the farm and into the commercial world.  Paired with milk delivery services, individuals no longer needed a cow or two per family, instead, allowing milk production on a larger scale for the first time.

Dairy Farming rose across North America, as needs for protein and other nutrients in somewhat difficult environmental conditions were in high demand. With the invention of pasteurization machines at the turn of the 20th century, the dairy industry skyrocketed.

A lot of those dairy farms actually popped up in Quebec and Labrador, which today still accounts for 37% of milk production in Canada.


Today, cows milk is the most popular kind of milk around the world, especially in North America, Northern Europe, Asia, and Australia. Goats milk is more popular in South America, Southern Asia, and Africa.

Today, we consume approximately 223 billion litres of milk per year.