Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Community News Network

February 11, 2014

How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza

WASHINGTON — It's no secret that Americans eat a lot of pizza. In fact, around 13 percent of the country is eating a slice or two on any given day, according to a recent report from the Agriculture Department.

It all adds up to a lot of calories: On an average day, the report notes, pizza provides 6 percent of the total caloric intake for American children and 4 percent for American adults.

But there's also a subtle policy angle here. Pizza is popular because it's delicious. But the roaring success of pizza isn't entirely a free-market story. "In recent years, [the USDA] has spent many millions of dollars to increase pizza consumption among U.S. children and adults," Parke Wilde of Tufts University wrote on his U.S. Food Policy blog.

He's referring to the USDA's "dairy checkoff program," which levies a small fee on milk (15 cents for every hundredweight of milk sold or used in dairy products) and raised about $202 million in 2011. The agency uses that money to promote products such as milk and cheese. And, it turns out, pizza.

The USDA claims its checkoff program has been well worth it: For every $1 it spends on increasing cheese demand, it estimates that farmers get $4.43 in additional revenue. But the results have been mixed. Milk consumption has declined in recent decades, while cheese consumption has soared.

The program also helps pizzamakers, which use one-quarter of the nation's cheese. A 2010 USDA report detailed how Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), a corporation funded by these government checkoff fees, spent $35 million in a partnership with Domino's to boost pizza sales.

"According to Patrick Doyle, President and CEO of Domino's Pizza, 'DMI support has allowed us to focus some advertising dollars on areas we would not have considered otherwise. The Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza has twice the cheese of a regular pizza, but we had neither developed nor advertised such a product. DMI helped fund the research and media to launch this product," according to the 2010 USDA report.

That report also chronicled how the dairy checkoff program also worked with McDonald's to launch McCafe specialty coffees and three new burgers with two slices of cheese on them. It also helped Yoplait develop new yogurt-chip technology. The program was renewed in the most recent farm bill.

So what's the problem? Critics of this program often note that efforts to promote fruits and vegetables haven't received nearly the same level of support as dairy and meat products (a few fruits do have their own checkoff programs, including blueberries and watermelons, but not many). That imbalance doesn't explain the popularity of pizza, obviously, but it's one extra unseen force at work.

               

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast
Poll

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results