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European Dairy Conference 2018 puts sustainability centre-stage

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The theme of the EDA annual conference for 2018 is “A Green Future for European Dairy”.

The European Dairy Association is the representative body for the European Milk Processing industry. This year’s annual conference is being hosted by Dairy Industry Ireland, the representative body for primary and secondary processors in Ireland.

Speaking at the opening, The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D highlighted some of the challenges facing the wider European Dairy Industry but noted the industry’s willingness to accept those challenges.

Whilst acknowledging the positive sentiment for the European dairy market reflected in the EU Commission’s Short term outlook for Agricultural Markets Minister Creed welcomed the focus the conference was bringing to meeting some of the challenges facing the European dairy industry.

Building on the theme of the conference Minister Creed stated: “Perhaps the biggest challenge for the dairy industry is reflected in the overall theme of this year’s conference: “A Green Future for European Dairy”. Meeting an increasing global demand for dairy products requires all of us to demonstrate to ever demanding consumers throughout the world our environmental credentials. All of us with a role to play in the dairy industry must ensure that we have a clear commitment to the environment and demonstrate the environmental merit of dairy production in Europe”.

With regard to some of the other challenges being discussed at the conference facing the dairy industry, Minister Creed urged those attending the conferences to deal with issues such as animal welfare concerns in a clear factual manner to ensure consumer demands and standards in this area are met: “As consumers evolve from generation to generation so too do their demands in terms of the standards the require from their food producers. An increasing focus on animal welfare by consumers and other interest groups must be met with a clear factual demonstration of the high welfare standards in the European Dairy Industry.”

Minister Creed also took the opportunity to directly address improving efficiencies and competitiveness within the Irish dairy sector. Referencing the Food Wise recommendation to improving cost efficiency through consolidation to optimise costs and investment within the industry which can enable the industry to manage risk and volatility, Minister Creed said: “Managing volatility and other risks is a complex issue, for processors no less than for farmers, and there is no single solution. However, I do believe that consolidation is one option which needs to be seriously considered to ensure the future resilience of the Irish dairy sector as a whole. “

Concluding, Minister Creed urged all in the European Dairy Industry to collaborate collectively and work together to allow the entire industry to develop in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner to allow all stakeholders prosper: “I would like to congratulate Dairy Industry Ireland on their work in hosting this conference on behalf of the EDA and urge all those across the entire European dairy industry including delegates here at this year’s conference to ensure that the continued development and evolution of all our dairy industries is carried out in a manner that is both economically and environmentally sustainable. I am confident that the contents of the program of this year’s conference which include issues such as dealing with price volatility, the environmental and welfare impact of dairying as well as the potential for dairy ingredients will enable the European dairy industry to avail of the opportunities afforded it by the high standards to which the European Dairy Industry operates”.