Monday saw world dairy leaders calling for the industry to unite and embrace enthusiastically the challenge of securing consumer confidence.
Speaking at the International Dairy Federation (IDF) World Dairy Summit in Belfast, industry leaders from the UK, China, Japan and Australia underlined the importance of communicating effectively with consumers who are looking for reassurance on the integrity and quality of dairy foods at a time anti-dairy activism is on the rise.
Paul Vernon, chief executive of Glanbia Cheese and chairman of Dairy UK, the UK industry trade association, said: “The world and the dairy sector has changed massively over the past 30 years and the way we are communicating with consumers has changed too. Dairy is a superfood and we need to ensure that message is heard loud and clear by consumers who are under a constant barrage of misleading and ill-informed messages about dairy.”
Tomas Pietrangeli, managing director of Arla UK added: “At a time when there is a need around the world for more nutritious food, dairy should be a critical part of the solution. However, the myths and scare stories that are being presented about dairy does give the industry a potential crisis and in the UK and Europe we could be facing an existential threat from anti-dairy campaigning.
“We have a bright future, we have the ammunition and we need to play to our strengths. Changing the visual image of milk and focusing on young women is essential in establishing the message that one of the greatest sources of foods is still relevant and part of modern day life.
“It’s time to get behind the goodness and time to debunk the anti-dairy myths and unsubstantiated claims.”
Zheng Jianqiu, executive president of Yili Dairy, China, said: “The burgeoning Chinese dairy industry is working very hard to develop solidarity across the supply chain and with consumers. Our vision is to be the most trusted supplier of nutritious dairy foods. It is important that dairy’s voice is heard by the whole of society.”
Kazuo Kawamura, president of Meiji, Japan, believes it is vital that the industry fully explores the new methods of communicating with suppliers, consumers and customers going forward.
“The need for greater global cooperation and planning is of paramount importance to avoid potential future crises,” he said.
Barry Irvin, executive chairman of Bega Cheese, focussed on ensuring that transparency and honesty was the cornerstone of all communications with stakeholders.
Dr Judith Bryans, president of the International Dairy Federation, said: “The message from across the global sector is quite clear: the industry must be committed to highlighting the nutritional benefits of dairy and confronting the many myths that are peddled by the anti-dairy lobby. It is a major challenge but one that dairy can rise to.”
The (IDF) World Dairy Summit continues until Friday.