For this large population -- more than 1 out of 8 Americans -- who consumed pizza in a particular day:
- Pizza accounted for 25% (among kids) and 29% (among adults) of daily food energy intake. More than a quarter of all calorie intake was pizza.
- Pizza accounted for 33% (among kids) and 39% (among adults) of daily saturated fat intake. Compared with foods in general, pizza is much heavier in saturated fat.
- Pizza accounted for 33% (among kids) and 38% (among adults) of sodium intake. Compared with foods in general, pizza is much heavier in sodium.
The USDA Report to Congress found that the economic payoff to producers is greater for cheese marketing efforts than for fluid milk marketing efforts. The report concluded:
- For every $1 that the checkoff program spends on increasing demand for fluid milk, farmers get $3.95 in increased revenue.
- For every $1 that the checkoff program spends on increasing demand for cheese, farmers get $4.43 in increased revenue.
On average, expenditures on marketing and cheese promotion were $12.0 million during the period. Owing to partnerships with the pizza industry, notably Domino’s Pizza, expenditures on cheese increased from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the end of 2011.According to the Report to Congress, Patrick Doyle, President and CEO of Domino's Pizza, explained why the support from the federal government's dairy checkoff program was so beneficial to the company, as follows:
DMI spent over $35 million over three years in partnership activities with Domino’s. The Domino's relationship accounted for nearly three-quarters of DMI’s overall promotion expenditures in the cheese category over the 2009 to 2011 period.
“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”The Report to Congress argued that the USDA-supported dairy checkoff program's pizza partnerships increased cheese consumption:
The promotional activities with Domino’s included new product lines, use of more cheese than had been provided on similar items in the Domino's chain before the partnership, and the introduction of specialty cheeses into the company’s recipes. In short, the assistance of dairy dollars was instrumental in positively affecting the pizza category, a category that is very important to the dairy industry.Every dairy checkoff partnership must be approved by USDA. Every marketing message has official legal standing as "government speech" (because, otherwise, courts would see the mandatory assessment as a misuse of the federal government's taxation powers). The checkoff partnerships undermine USDA's standing as a credible voice in promoting dietary guidance for Americans, and they must be a terrible embarrassment for the many people at USDA who seek to promote healthful eating.
Many Americans find pizza to be an enjoyable treat, but, from a nutritional perspective, it is a dreadful choice of major food staple. It is understandable that food companies may promote pizza with their own money, but it is a travesty that the federal government should contribute so heavily to this effort, while neglecting other important nutrition goals.