The long-term outlook for the dairy sector remains positive, despite ‘undeniable’ challenges currently facing the industry, Arla Foods UK Managing Director and Dairy UK Chair Ash Amirahmadi told guests at the Dairy UK Annual Dinner this week.
Addressing the yearly event, Amirahmadi said UK dairy is a resilient sector that is making strides to deliver a ‘vibrant and positive’ future. Priority areas, he said, include protecting food security, building resilience in the food system, improving dairy’s environmental footprint and providing nutritious products that help to feed people globally.
These ambitions, the dairy expert claimed, line-up with the objectives outlined by the UK government in the recently released food strategy document. “I believe our aspirations align with those set out by the government in the Food Strategy,” Amirahmadi suggested. “I was heartened to see the government recognising the critical importance of the food industry when it comes to both international trade and food security.”
However, Amirahmadi warned policy makers that if UK dairy is to perform to its full potential legislators must not to undermine the progress and ambition of the sector with further ‘regulatory and administrative burdens’. Such an approach would erode the profitability of dairy businesses, he warned.
On international trade, Amirahmadi stressed the importance of overcoming export barriers while also protecting domestic food standards. “We need fair trade agreements that bring as much benefit to UK farmers and companies as they do to those wishing to enter the UK market. We cannot afford to undermine either the high standards UK consumers demand or the domestic industry."
While Amirahmadi highlighted the progress made in areas like sustainable production and noted the industry’s 2050 net zero target, he conceded that this will not be an ‘easy trajectory’.
“When I say, we’ve got this, I don’t mean that we’re a perfect sector, or that our work is done. There is always more work to do for every industry.
“What I am asking you to do is recognise that dairy is a dynamic, vibrant and highly adaptable industry, and by working in partnership, we will successfully reach our collective goals of healthy people, a healthier planet, a profitable dairy farming and processing and a thriving economy.”