The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • Dairy Partners with U.S. Olympics Committee

    By Mark O'Keefe June 22, 2016

    Olympic athletes are applying research showing that milk aids exercise recovery and lean body mass. The "Built With Chocolate Milk" and "Milk Life" campaigns amplify those stories.

    American swimmer Tyler Clary's message about the recuperative power of chocolate milk could resonate with a worldwide audience, especially if he wins a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer.

    Clary, who won the 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 Olympics, explains in this video why he has been drinking chocolate milk for years.

    “It’s not just how much protein and how much carbohydrate you’re getting after each workout,” Clary says in the video. “It actually has a lot to do with the ratio of what you’re taking in, and chocolate milk just happens to have a naturally perfect ratio for recovery nutrients to keep my body functioning at a level that it needs to be.”

    Testimonials like this could have a positive impact on the global perception of dairy in general and U.S. dairy in particular. Athletes like Clary are recognized and admired around the world. Their nutritional advice can be influential.

    Dairy's five-year partnership with Olympics

    MilkPEP has embarked on a five-year partnership with the United States Olympic Committee. The partnership will include TV advertising, consumer and retail promotions, sponsorship of athletes and more.  

    It makes sense, based on the nutritional advantages that milk can provide. A research study conducted in late February and early March by KRC Research among more than 1,000 current and retired U.S. Olympians and Paralympians found that nine out of 10 of those surveyed drank milk while growing up.

    "U.S. Olympic athletes have always relied on milk to help fuel their journeys to the Olympic Games from the kitchen table to the training table," said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at MilkPEP. "To be able to support athletes with a simple, wholesome and naturally nutrient-rich beverage like milk is such a perfect fit, and we're proud to support Team USA on their journey to the Olympic Games."

    Adds Elizabeth Beisel, Olympic bronze and silver medalist in swimming: "I can't think of a better partnership than Team USA level athletes and milk."

    Beisel is shown "trading sports" with U.S. rugby player Perry Baker in the following video that is part of MilkPEP's "Milk Life" campaign.

    Research-based takeaways for athletes (and wannabees)

    Studies have documented the advantages of dairy products for athletes.

    There are two main focus areas, according to researchers at Dairy Management Inc.: 1) flavored milk and exercise recovery, and 2) dairy protein and muscle benefits.

    • Exercise recovery. Chocolate milk is well-known for its ability to replenish athletes after a workout. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, trained cyclists and triathletes who drank chocolate milk after strenuous exercise were able to improve subsequent exercise performance. “This is an important finding for athletes who must train twice a day or compete in multiple events with limited time to recover,” the researchers said. Another study by the same researchers from the University of Texas, but this time published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, affirmed the value of chocolate milk as an effective post-exercise recovery supplement.
    • Strength training exercise. Athletes who lift weights, do push-ups or engage in other forms of “resistance training” can get a boost from dairy. Researchers at the University of Connecticut and Boston Children’s Hospital, writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that daily supplementation with whey protein is more effective than soy protein or isocaloric carbohydrate control in promoting gains in lean body mass among young adults in a supervised resistance-training program. Another study, conducted in Canada and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found similar results, but with milk rather than whey.

    Olympics a global "reference point" for dairy 

    In 2008, Beijing became an international melting pot while hosting the Summer Olympic Games.

    The Chinese catered to the eating habits of people from around the world. They also paid attention to what was happening at the Olympic venues. How did Chinese athletes stack up against the athletes of other countries?

    It helped bring the role of nutrition to the forefront.

    Shortly after the Olympics ended that year, Daniel Chan, the U.S. Dairy Export Council's representative in China, pointed out that cheese consumption in Japan had increased dramatically after it hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964. The same thing happened in South Korea after hosting the summer games in 1988.

    Dairy imports to China rose dramatically for six years after Beijing hosted the Olympics.

    It would be silly to say the Olympics drove dairy consumption in those Asian markets. But it's not a stretch to argue that the Olympics helped reinforce changing positive perceptions about dairy.

    “The addition of cheese to the diet usually comes at a time when developing markets in Asia are going through a period of rapid economic growth,” Chan says. “This happened in Tokyo, Seoul, and then Beijing in 2008. During this period of economic expansion, we saw widened market access, lowered tariffs, increasing disposal incomes and a more westernized diet. The Olympics were a good reference point while these changes took place.”


    Whether the August 5-21 Summer Olympics will boost global perceptions about dairy in general and U.S. dairy in particular remains to be seen. But the Olympics are an international gathering place focused on athletic performance. Within that context, dairy may find a receptive audience.

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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post. 

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