Makayla Toste is well-versed in the production side of the dairy industry after growing up on her family’s ranch on Santa Fe Grade Road between Gustine and Newman.
A recent internship in Mexico introduced the 2015 Gustine High graduate to another aspect of the industry.
Toste was immersed in the marketing side of the industry while spending six weeks as an intern in the California Milk Advisory Board’s international leadership program.
Toste, one of four interns selected under the program, worked with a marketing team in Cuernavaca, the capital of the lush Mexican state of Morelos.
During those six weeks, Toste related, she worked to increase Mexico markets for California dairy products while gaining a much deeper understanding of how important exports are to the industry.
“I was used to the processing side and on-farm (aspects),” she commented. “I had never seen the marketing side of our industry, and I realized that I really enjoy it.”
Cheese and powdered milk are Mexico’s leading dairy imports, Toste noted. She said the industry marketing team promoting the Real California Milk account is working to increase dairy exports from California to Mexico.
One potential avenue, she said, is to increase the state’s exports of fluid milk into Mexico, which is now minimal.
“Seventy-five percent is imported from Texas. We would like to share some of the market,” Toste explained.
All fluid milk marketed in Mexico is ultra-high temperature pasteurized, or extended shelf life, she said.
“Most of their milk you see out on the shelf, not refrigerated,” Toste told Mattos Newspapers. “We are hoping to work with a big producer there to get some of our milk pasteurized at extremely high temperatures.”
The concept of marketing could go both ways, Toste added, as one concept under consideration involves shipping milk to a plant which processes a brand well-known in Mexico - but then marketing that product to the Hispanic community in California.
“For those living in California, it would be a brand that is familiar to them,” she said.
Toste’s other projects in Mexico included planning culinary seminars for chefs in Mexico City, Cancun and Monterrey to train and promote the use of California dairy products, and working with Costco to add a cheese product to their line.
The marketing effort is making inroads, she added, as numerous dairy products have been added to retail lines in Mexico.
Toste, the daughter of John and Sandra Toste, recently graduated from Fresno State with a degree in animal science and an emphasis on dairy science. She is currently seeking employment - and has her sights set on doing further work in marketing.
“After this experience, I want to go into dairy marketing,” she stated. “I have seen the influence and the impact that was seen just by marketing our products the correct way. I really enjoyed the marketing side and would love to work for the California Milk Advisory Board or the California Dairy Council. I would like to help bridge the gap between producer and consumer.”