FRI AM News: Milk facing mounting competition from other beverages; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Sheila Long, founder of MalamaDoe

— As U.S. dairy farmers struggle with low milk prices, other beverages are gaining a stronger foothold with American consumers. 

“Almond milk is not the dairy industry’s largest competitor, and it’s absolutely not the only competitor,” said Jen Walsh, vice president of insights and strategy at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. 

Even with 93 percent of households still drinking milk, the country has seen a steady decline in fluid milk consumption. From 2016 to 2017, milk consumption decreased by 74.6 million gallons and the dairy industry lost about 4 percent of households.

“Eighty-five percent of those households bought something else,” Walsh said this week at the Dairy Strong conference in Madison. “Of that 85 percent, 53 percent went to bottled water.”

According to Walsh, 11 percent chose coffee — a beverage that’s seen innovations such as shelf-stable cold brew, ready-to-go espresso shots, and frappuccinos in a can. Eight percent went to tea, 7 percent to juice, and another 7 percent to vegan “milk” options. 

“Consumers have a world of options,” said Walsh, adding that sports drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages make up the last 14 percent. 

According to her, even though non-dairy milk products are on the rise — gaining ground in about 43 percent of households — it’s nowhere near dairy’s presence in the home. 

“It’s important to be aware of non-dairy milk, but it’s a very tiny piece of the puzzle,” she said.

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with returning guest Sheila Long, founder of MalamaDoe. 

She discusses what’s new with her Milwaukee-based coworking community for women including a new incubator program aimed at helping members grow their businesses. After categorizing companies into various stages of development, Long is looking to provide personalized guidance on how to reach the next level. 

“I’m very excited about rolling out this incubator,” she said. “We have a calendar of events, of different opportunities that women businesses can be a part of.” 

The co-working space now has 26 member businesses and Long said she’s about to begin one-on-one interviews to determine their specific needs. 

Long also explains a term called “focused fulfillment” and the role it plays in limiting business growth. 

“I want them to keep growing, because we really need more women on boards, and we need more women CEOs, and we need more women represented at tables,” she said. “If we continue to just stop and settle … we really won’t make a lot of progress for women.” 

Listen to the podcast here:

See an earlier podcast with Long: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— A recent study by Aimpoint Research predicts farmers will have to be open to change and capitalize on opportunities in order to succeed. 

Brett Sciotto, president and CEO of Aimpoint Research, said the most successful farmers focus on marketing, new business opportunities and adapting to industry changes. His keynote speech at this week’s Dairy Strong conference in Madison yesterday highlighted multiple growth strategies for farmers. 

He said the least successful farmers are viewing farming as a lifestyle rather than a business, not following new practices, not changing or taking risks and not planning for the future.

Aimpoint’s study spotlighted five farmer personalities: independent elite, enterprising business builders, classic practitioner, self-reliant traditionalist and leveraged lifestylers.

“Independent elites and enterprise business builders are the most successful farmers today,” said Sciotto. 

According to the study, independent elites excel at investing and planning, and enterprising business builders are more aggressive, entrepreneurial, and focused on growth.

“Classic practitioners are trying to grow but struggling,” said Sciotto. “Self-reliant traditionalists are not interested in technology or change and not prepared for the future, and leveraged lifestylers — farmers who are not treating the farm like a business — are most likely to fail.”

The study included models to predict the economic and political climate over the next two decades and how the five farmer personalities would prevail.

“If we know what the current situation is, then we can change our actions to set the conditions that are ideal for us to create the preferred future,” said Sciotto. 

Aimpoint Research’s study includes a long-term outlook. It predicts 2040 will bring: autonomous supply chains and farming operations; a requirement for traceability, sustainability and transparency to enter a supply chain; public acceptance for gene editing and alternative proteins; regulation by retailers or food companies to be more impactful than government regulation; and a highly consolidated, streamlined industry and a unified agri-food value chain. 

“All farmers acknowledge that change is happening all around them,” said Sciotto. “Some embrace it and use it to their advantage, and others say they won’t be able to change.”

For farmers to survive over the next 20 years, Sciotto added they must be willing to collaborate and surrender their independence to supply chains, he said.

“When I look at all of this data, I see tremendous opportunity for the American farmer,” said Sciotto. “If you’re willing to embrace change and transform and shake conventional wisdom, you can succeed for sure in the future dynamic.”

— The share of Wisconsin private-sector workers represented by unions increased slightly between 2018 and 2019, even as U.S. union membership hit a new low.

That’s according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found the percentage of workers in the state represented by unions rose from 8.6 percent in 2018 to 9.1 percent last year. The number of these workers increased from 233,000 to 245,000.

Meanwhile, the country gained around 50,000 union-represented workers in the private sector last year, but that was outstripped by overall private-sector employment growth. The share of U.S. union-represented workers in the private sector fell from 7.2 percent in 2018 to 7.1 percent last year.

The BLS report shows public-sector employees hold union memberships at more than five times the rate for private-sector workers. Men are more likely to be union members than women, and African-Americans are more likely to be union members than any other race.

See the report:

— The state’s unemployment rate in December hit 3.4 percent for the first time since March 2017, according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Workforce Development.

The unemployment rate increased slightly from November’s rate of 3.3 percent. Unemployment in Wisconsin has been trending upward since mid-2019 after reaching a low of 2.8 percent in April.

In a release, DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said the state is “feeling sharp local impacts” from federal trade policy and noted the ongoing workforce shortage is limiting economic growth.

The state’s unemployment rate for December was 0.1 percent below the national rate of 3.5 percent.

See the release:

— Redox is partnering with Roundtrip, a startup with a digital transportation marketplace for providers and patients, the company recently announced. 

According to a release, the partnership ensures easier connections across health data source systems and enables a complete view of a patient’s transportation journey to improve outcomes.

“Roundtrip is a perfect example of digital health done right,” Redox CEO Luke Bonney said in a statement. “We are honored to partner with Roundtrip and look forward to helping them continue to realize their vision and make healthcare better.”

Roundtrip is based in Philadelphia.

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Newaukee plans to buy Walker’s Point building, create social innovation and entrepreneurship hub

# Froedtert Health plans new campus at former Wisconsin Heart Hospital

# UW nurses, in reviving union, tell hospital board current system isn’t working

# Gov. Tony Evers calls special session for lawmakers to take up his $8.6 million agriculture package



– Wisconsin farm groups applaud special session bills focused on improving outcomes for farmers

– Evers proposing plans to address challenges in agriculture


– Old National Bancorp to reduce office count in Wisconsin by a third


– Cobalt makes major changes to $132M West Allis redevelopment, will use mass timber

– Madison contractor closes shop with little notice


– Strong December doesn’t stop Wisconsin from having slowest job growth since 2010

– Wisconsin expected to see $818 million increase in tax collections to end biennium


– UW-River Falls students to benefit from estate gift


– Exact Sciences’ stock jumps after analysts question competitor’s product


– Paul Bielinski leads family business into future


– Rust-Oleum leases space in Pleasant Prairie Jelly Belly building


– Bill aims to rid schools of lead contamination


– NEWaukee to redevelop Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden building in Walker’s Point

– Home on Geneva Lake sold for more than $3.7 million


– Supporters of late bar time during DNC optimistic after meeting with legislators


– Racine to expand microenterprise loan program


– Matzke joins State Fair Dairy Promotion Board staff


– Port Milwaukee planning third cruise ship dock near Komatsu site


– Howard A. Learner: Savvy policies can grow Wisconsin’s renewable energy jobs


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

DWD: BLS data: Wisconsin adds 9,800 total non-farm, 9,000 private-sector jobs in December

Wisconsin Farmers Union: Comments on State of the State

Dairy Business Association: Dairy advocate award recognizes resilience, leadership of Jim Winn