As part of its efforts to revitalize one of the most recognized product symbols in the food industry, the National Milk Producers Federation announced Tuesday that the REAL Seal is undergoing a makeover.
As a first step to revitalizing the symbol, NMPF released a new website: www.realseal.com.
The previous website existed primarily as a resource for dairy product manufacturers and marketers interested in putting the REAL Seal on their packaging. The new website will contain more content to educate consumers about why they should look for the REAL Seal on the foods they buy, while also continuing to provide information for those companies using the REAL Seal to enhance their product marketing.
"Research has found that 93% of consumers know of the REAL Seal, and that many people find it useful in making buying decisions," said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.
Effective March 15, 2012, the management of the REAL Seal program was transferred from the United Dairy Industry Association to NMPF. This change was the result of an agreement between the two organizations that the transfer was the best opportunity to place a renewed emphasis on highlighting the importance and value of American-made dairy foods.
"Imitation products made from vegetables and nuts, but packaged like real dairy products and often using dairy names, have proliferated in the last few years," said Kozak. "For example, frozen desserts made out of soybeans are packaged the same as real ice cream made from cows' milk, with pictures that make it look like real ice cream. The only way a consumer would know the product isn't ice cream is by reading the ingredients label."
The same is true for other processed foods made with imitation dairy products, Kozak said.
"Currently, frozen pizza is essentially the only processed food that uses the REAL Seal. We intend to expand the products eligible to use the REAL Seal beyond that that category."
To address expanded use of the REAL Seal, the seal itself is in the process of being tailored to other applications. Terms like "Made With" real dairy, and "American Made," along with specific dairy product names, will be stacked above and below the basic REAL Seal.
"Our goal is to have a fully integrated program up and running early in 2013," Kozak said. "We know dairy farmers are enthusiastic about the REAL Seal, and we're excited about the tremendous potential this has for expanding sales of REAL dairy products made from U.S. dairy farmers' milk."
"Consumers continue to express an interest in food quality and integrity, through the choices they make at grocery stores and restaurants," Kozak said. "Labeling is an integral part of creating and maintaining a dialogue with them."
As a result of this change in management, "the program will now strive to educate new generations of dairy consumers about the significance of the REAL Seal, revitalizing the brand and talking to them about the good taste, nutritional value, and wholesomeness associated with dairy foods and dairy food ingredients made from milk produced in the United States," Kozak added.