White paper takes temperature of UK dairy industry

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dairy uk Milk

Dairy UK has published a ‘white paper’ on the current state of play in the UK dairy industry, covering competitiveness, consumer trends, and policy vis-à-vis Europe and the environment.

Prepared for its annual dinner in London, the 50-page document presents the perspective of the UK industry on policy issues including the EU High Level Group on Dairy, health and nutrition claims, and country of origin labelling.

The paper begins with an overview of the consumption trends facing the country's dairy farmers, processors and retailers. Dairy UK said the outlook for the industry is positive, despite a decline in the consumption of certain dairy products, particularly whole fat milk, over the past few years.

Growth opportunities

The trade body highlighted growth areas in the UK market, saying the packaged cheese segment grew 6 per cent last year (DairyCo) and lower fat milk grew 1.6 per cent (Kantar Worldpanel). The document went on to explore the opportunities for growth beyond UK borders.

Supported by population growth and economic development, Dairy UK quoted OECD forecasts suggesting that global demand for dairy products will grow 16 per cent between 2009 and 2018.

Policy views

Dairy UK also set out its position on some of the big policy issues of the day. Unlike the European Dairy Association (EDA), which recently criticised EU plans to expand country of origin labelling (COOL) to dairy products, Dairy UK said it is supportive of mandatory labelling.

It said: “Dairy UK and the dairy industry is developing its own guidance in support of mandatory country of origin labelling on dairy products, recognising the location of manufacture.”

Dairy UK also had a word to say about the EU High Level Group on Dairy. The trade body said it is vital that the recommendations of the Group do not jeopardise the positive development of integrated supply arrangements in the UK, whereby retailers pay a premium to source milk from groups of dedicated farmers.

Dairy UK said: “Farmers reaped the benefits of these arrangements during the last downturn in world markets, when UK milk prices remained relatively robust.”

Looking ahead, the trade body called for further consolidation in the UK dairy industry as well as additional efforts to improve efficiency and drive innovation. In particular, it expressed support for recent attempts to improve economies of scale in dairy farming and processing.

The white paper stated: “From planning applications for 1000-cow plus farms to the commissioning of ‘super dairies’ capable of processing more than 300 million litres of milk per year, this trend is vital if the industry is to remain competitive.”

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