Champions of dairy industry honoured by Dairy UK award

London, 22nd June 2017: Two dairy champions have been recognised for their invaluable contribution to the dairy industry.

Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Simon Hoare MP are this year’s winners of the Dairy UK Award.

Commissioner Phil Hogan was honoured with the award in recognition of his unwavering commitment to supporting dairy exports and ensuring the industry is of strategic importance within Europe. The award was presented by Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of Dairy UK, during the Dairy UK Annual Dinner at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on 21st June 2017.

Simon Hoare MP most notably chairs the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and is currently leading an inquiry into skills and labour in the British dairy industry. Simon also played an integral role in ensuring the exemption of milk-based drinks from the soft drinks industry levy last year. His award was presented by Gyles Brandreth, author, broadcaster, actor, and former Conservative MP.

Speaking at the annual industry dinner, Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of Dairy UK, said: “Both winners work tirelessly to promote the dairy industry from farm to fridge. It’s important that we have key decision makers like Commissioner Hogan and Simon Hoare MP to ensure that the industry is protected at home and abroad.

“Commissioner Hogan’s advocacy for food and farming has made a real difference, especially for farmers.

“Additionally, Simon’s proactive leadership in the Dairy APPG has helped to ensure that the interests of the industry are centre stage.”

On receiving his award, Commissioner Phil Hogan added: “I want to thank Dairy UK for this award - it is a real honour. As someone who grew up on a small dairy farm in Ireland, the industry has always been an important part of my life. The Commission will continue to stand by the sector and I will do anything in my power to support it as we move ahead.” 

Simon Hoare MP, said: “It is a pleasure and duty to speak up for, champion and encourage our vital UK dairy industry.”


Dairy should be high priority in Brexit negotiations

London, 22nd June 2017: It is vitally important that the UK dairy industry is recognised and prioritised during Brexit negotiations, Dr David Dobbin, Chairman of Dairy UK, said yesterday.

Speaking at Dairy UK’s ‘Brexit and Beyond’ industry seminar in London and at the organisation’s annual dinner, Dr Dobbin said it is in the national interest for dairy to be given due prominence during the Brexit process.

He said: “The importance and relevance of dairy must not be forgotten or traded to the benefit of other sectors.”

Dr Dobbin told delegates that the dairy industry in the UK sees opportunities as well as threats in Brexit but everyone wants stability. He said the UK government and all political decision-makers must ensure that:

  • trading arrangements with the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers are continued;
  • the relationship with the EU is clarified before negotiating free trade agreements with third countries;
  • there is continued access to skilled and unskilled labour;
  • any review of existing regulations or the introduction of new regulations will not create non-tariff barriers;
  • UK farmers are not disadvantaged compared to their European neighbours.

Dr Dobbin said: “Uncertainties around Brexit will be a problem for businesses in all sectors in the UK and the EU until negotiations take shape and the dairy industry in Europe is highly interlinked. We need transition and we need engagement.

“Now that Brexit talks are underway it has never been more important to hammer home the significance of dairy.

“We have a strong ambition to provide world class products and play a positive role in the economy, environment, nutrition and social aspects of UK life. Dairy products are found in 98% of UK homes and there are 80,000 people who work in the industry – it’s their dedication and the support of the public that makes our industry vitally important to the UK.  We are a key part of the nutritional fabric of the country.

“A bad deal for the UK would be a major problem for the domestic dairy industry and would also be a bad deal for the European dairy industry. The Government must avoid a cliff edge deal and go for lengthy transition to allow a deal to be finalised and seamlessly phased in.

“The future of dairy is bright – and can be brighter with successful negotiations.”

Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, added: “The dairy industry is working hard to realise its potential. From initiatives to improve export performance, environmental impact, sustainability, and supply chain integrity, to name a few, the sector stands ready to assist the government in any way during the negotiating process. It is in the UK’s interest for the industry to emerge from Brexit as an effective, dynamic sector equipped to continue to feed the nation for generations to come.”

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has also produced an economic analysis of the potential impact of Brexit on the industry.

Oliver Hogan, director at CEBR, said: “The choices facing the UK as it enters negotiations with the EU can be thought of as a trade-off between autonomy and market access. In essence, the more rigid the UK is on its red lines, the more it can expect to have to move away from unfettered single market access, as it exists today.

“If done in the right way, many Brexit-related worries could disappear. Making this happen would require careful and tolerant negotiating behaviour on both sides, something that has been conspicuous by its absence in recent months.”

The seminar took place on Wednesday 21st June at the Royal Garden Hotel, followed by the annual industry dinner in the evening.


Dairy UK Statement on General Election Result

Commenting on the results of the General Election, Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said:

"Dairy UK is committed to working constructively with Government to ensure that the importance of the British dairy industry is recognised and given due prominence in Brexit negotiations.

"The General Election result has added a further dimension of uncertainty to the situation, however, regardless of the political situation, it is imperative that the importance of dairy is recognised when negotiations begin.

"The UK dairy sector is already internationally competitive, but the UK industry has considerable potential for growth. Brexit will likely herald a range of challenges and opportunities in the UK and internationally.

"We are an industry that employs 80,000 people throughout the UK. We are an integral part of the nation's food chain, providing safe, nutritious and value for money foods that are consumed in 98% of UK households.

"The industry is already resilient. As we approach Brexit, it has never been more important to recognise the significance of dairy and the sector stands ready to assist the Government in anyway during the negotiating process. We must ensure that consumers will continue to enjoy their favourite dairy foods far into the future."


Dairy UK statement on general election

London, 19th April 2017: Commenting on the announcement that the Prime Minister will hold a snap general election on 8th June, Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said:

“As politicians have started to gear up for another general election, Dairy UK is calling on politicians across the spectrum to stand up for dairy – an industry which is vital to Britain’s economy, environment as well as the nation’s diet.

“The UK dairy industry has tremendous potential on the domestic and international stage and it is in the interests of consumers and the many thousands of people who work in the industry that we operate and produce nutritious foods in the best possible business climate.

“With Brexit negotiations ahead, there are challenges and opportunities and we hope that the UK Government and the devolved administrations remain firmly committed to vigorously supporting one of the nation’s great industries.”


Shoppers, let's talk! The dairy industry fights back against false accusations

The dairy industry sent a strongly worded opinion piece to the Guardian today following the publication of a vitriolic article against alleged practices on dairy farming. Working with AHDB Dairy, the NFU, the NFUS, NFU Cyrmu, the RABDF, RUMA and the CLA, Dairy UK addressed serious concerns about false allegations peddled against the dairy industry. The full piece is expected to be published on the Guardian website in the coming days.

It takes a lot of passion and dedication to work in the dairy industry.

Rain or shine, farmers get up before dawn to care for their cows. Processors and manufacturers adhere to stringent rules to ensure that consumers can pick up a wholesome bottle of fresh milk from the shop every day. Vets will drive up to the farm in the middle of the night should a cow require urgent care.

So imagine our distress when we must fend off aggressive and gratuitous accusations which make for a good soundbite but do not stand scrutiny. Sadly, we know all too well that it is a lot easier for our detractors to use strong and empty words than to stick to the facts.

Our goals as an industry are quite simple. We want well-nourished and healthy people, healthy animals and a healthy planet. Animal welfare is paramount and we operate with some of the most robust standards across the world while always striving to surpass them.

Yet the author of "Dairy is scary. The public are waking up to the darkest part of farming" sets out to deliberately distort this.

Calf and cow welfare is at the heart of every good dairy farm in the UK. Dairy farmers want to provide the best standard of care for both the cow and the calf throughout their life, making effort to ensure the animals are healthy and prospering. The vast majority of dairy cows graze outdoors although like humans, they are grateful for shelter when the weather turns.

Hutches are seen by experts as one of the best systems of rearing young calves before they are moved into groups. They comply with all welfare requirements for animal well-being and general health and allow the all-essential social contact calves need without risk of bullying. This leads to better health and bio-security, and less antibiotic use. Done well and to a high standard, this approach is recognised worldwide as offering the best start for calves through a warm, safe and social environment with individual care.

The writer is completely misinformed about use of medicines in dairy farming in the UK and, in fact, in Europe, where no hormones or antibiotics can be given to animals to promote growth or production. These medicines are tightly controlled and any treatments must be prescribed by the farm's vet and only in the interests of the animal's health and welfare. Strict withdrawal rules for meat and milk during the period of treatment mean no traces of that medicine are able to reach the food chain.

Cows calve once a year, prompting milk production which lasts around 10 months before the cow naturally stops. This is the same for bovine animals on farms or in the wild. It's what has made cows so valuable to human nutrition for thousands of years.

Last but not least, what really matters is good management practice on farm, not the scale of the farm.

All consumers have a right to choose what they eat and should be able to do so based on correctly presented facts. As food producers, we have a duty to give the tools to make educated choices and we do so honestly and honourably.

So shoppers, let's chat! If you want to know the real truth about dairy farming, don't rely on the misinformation of someone who is intent on attacking the UK's dairy industry. Please get out there, visit a farm, talk to a farmer, ask a vet, look up how cheese or butter is made. We're proud of our industry and we're always happy to talk so people can make an informed and empowered choice next time they buy their daily pinta or favourite yogurt.

Dairy UK
AHDB Dairy
National Farmers Union
National Farmers Union Cymru
National Farmers Union Scotland
Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers
Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance
Country Land and Business Association


Leicestershire Milkman Receives Milk Hero Award

Leicestershire milkman Tony Fowler MBE has received a Milk Hero Award for being the eyes and ears of his local community for over a quarter of a century.

Tony, who has already been recognised with an MBE and a pride of Britain award for services to the local community, currently operates in the town of Melton Mowbray and has delivered milk to over 800 customers in 22 villages for over 25 years, never missing a day's delivery.

Whilst Tony is a businessman, his activities set him apart from others in that he possesses a real concern for the communities he delivers milk to. He embodies the community spirit by ensuring vulnerable people on his milk round are safe and cared for.

Helping to ensure the safety of the community, Tony has assisted police officers in catching a string of criminals, successfully foiling burglaries and keeping an eye out for any suspicious behaviour.

Tony also looks out for the elderly and regularly calls at the homes of vulnerable people to make sure they have essentials. If he encounters a problem, Tony will contact the authorities to ensure assistance arrives.

John Mulloy, sales manager at Cotteswold Dairy who nominated Mr Fowler, said: "Tony not only goes the extra mile, but lives and breathes a true sense of community. His hands-on approach to his customers is remarkable.

"There are so many examples which demonstrate the type of milkman Tony really is - he does a lot more than simply delivering the daily pinta. From identifying when the elderly need medical assistance or alerting police to early morning criminal activity, Tony has always gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the vulnerable are safe and cared for."

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said: "Milkmen and women can often be a lifeline for the elderly, the housebound and the vulnerable. We would like to congratulate Tony on the outstanding service he provides for the community."


Action Group on Johne's Announces Ambitious Phase II for National Johne's Management Plan

The Action Group on Johne's launched Phase II of the National Johne's Management Plan (NJMP) at a successful conference in Worcestershire this week, to build on the foundations created by Phase I of the plan.

Action Johnes conference - afternoon panel smallLyndon Edwards, Chair of the Action Group on Johne's said: "Today's conference saw strong support from delegates across the whole UK dairy industry, including farmers, vets and purchasers. Bringing the dairy industry together to learn, collaborate and discuss the effective management and reduction of Johne's in the national dairy herd is one of our key aims and the reaction from delegates today has been extremely positive."

The Action Group launched Phase II of the NJMP during the afternoon session. Following a lengthy industrywide consultation, Phase II was developed around four key principles:

  • Building on the farmer/vet relationship as key to taking the initiative forward. Johne's is a complex and difficult disease and farmers need the support of vets to tackle it;
  • Only vets fully trained in Johne's will lead in the implementation of the initiative. Vets need the right level training and farmers need the confidence that vets have received it;
  • External verification will be provided to demonstrate activity on farms;
  • All parties, from farmers to vets and purchasers should have strong incentives to participate.

Consequently, the key component of Phase II will be a system of independent veterinary certification of control activities on farm. Milk purchasers members of the NJMP will require their associated farmers to obtain a signed declaration by a BCVA Johne's Certified Veterinary Adviser annually over three years beginning 1st January 2017. The declaration states that the farmer has an appropriate and robust Johne's management plan in place.

Mr Edwards added: "We believe this approach will deepen farmer and vet engagement, ensure that vets are properly trained and generate external verification of activity on farms."

During the conference, delegates also received updates from farmer/vet teams with four farm case studies providing examples of successful implementation of the National Johne's Management Plan control strategies. Additional presentations focused on training courses available to vets along with a series of interactive breakout sessions.

Mr Edwards concluded: "We are succeeding, we have every reason to carry on, we have a plan on how to do so and we look forward to the engagement and support of the industry."

For more information about the Action Johne's Initiative, visit www.actionjohnesuk.org.


Farm Case Studies to Highlight Effective Management & Disease Reduction at Johne's Conference

Disease management, vet and farmer partnerships and overseas practice will be the major talking points at the Action Johne's Conference on Tuesday 7th February 2017 at the Sixways Stadium in Worcester.

Building on the success of the 2015 conference, the 2017 event will look at the progress of the Action Group on Johne's and the implementation of the National Johne's Management Plan. The morning session will also include four farm case studies providing examples of successful implementation of the National Johne's Management Plan control strategies, presented by farmers and vets.

The first case study focuses on biosecurity and how the team at Redlands Farm worked with their vets to implement a biosecurity strategy based on a closed herd. Delegates at the conference will hear directly from farmer and vet about the cost and time implications of the strategy as well as the benefits to the whole farm. "The benefit is the pride we have in not having the disease on farm" says Christopher Gasson, partner at Redlands Farm and vet at Hook Norton Veterinary Group. "This is the result of not having losses associated with the disease, including loses from culling, and other related cow health issues such as increased lameness, somatic cell counts, poor fertility and reduced milk yields. It is difficult to put a financial cost on these; however, there are many reports on the drain that they cause."

The other conference case studies cover improved farm management, focusing on breaking the cycle of disease transmission from cow to calf through management changes across the whole herd and improved farm management with strategic testing. Farmer Kate Lywood and vet Ben Brearley from The Livestock Partnership will be looking at strategic individual cow testing to identify those cows most at risk of spreading Johne's disease and implementing management changes to break the cycle of transmission between cows posing the highest risk. David Hiscox, Westlay Farm, Somerset and vet Rachel Hayton, Synergy Farm Health will present their case study on improved farm management with test and cull focusing. The study looks at the immediate culling of test positives rather than retaining and managing them; an option most suited to low prevalence herds where quick removal of infected animals is preferred.

Lyndon Edwards, Chair of the Action Group on Johne's says: "The Conference will launch Phase II of the Action Johne's Initiative and is aimed at anyone interested in the management and reduction of Johne's disease. The conference is an opportunity to get practical insight and advice about the disease and its control as well as an opportunity to meet with others in the dairy supply chain and work together for a more coherent approach in dealing with Johne's."

Delegates will also hear from Karen Bond, Chair of the Johne's Technical Group on the training for vets developed by the BCVA and on the Technical Manual for the scheme and from Anthony Barber of Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers giving a processor's perspective on the implementation of the National Johne's Management Plan. The afternoon programme starts with an interactive session led by Pete Orpin of the Park Veterinary Group on the best way of obtaining farmer engagement followed by an overview of practice in other countries by Dick Sibley of West Ridge Veterinary Practice. Lyndon Edwards, will then talk about the requirements of phase II of the Action Johne's Initiative and the conference will close with a presentation by Sophie Throup of RAFT Solutions, on the support provided by the Action Johne's Delivery Team and the services available from industry suppliers.

To register for the conference please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. giving the name, company, position, postal address, email address and mobile number of the delegate(s) you wish to register. To cover venue hire and catering costs a small fee of £60 will be charged for each delegate. An invoice will be issued by Dairy UK.

For more information about the Action Johne's Conference visit www.actionjohnesuk.org.


Dairy UK Statement on Prime Minister's Brexit Speech

Commenting on the Prime Minister's speech on the Brexit negotiations, Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said:

"Today, the Prime Minister lifted some of the uncertainty created by the Brexit referendum, bringing some long-awaited clarity on the Government's approach to a number of key Brexit issues. Although we welcome the Government's commitment to maintain a robust trading relationship with the EU, we have significant concerns about the UK's prospects outside the Single Market and without certain elements of the EU Customs Union.

"With 80% of UK dairy exports currently going to EU countries, any disruption to current agreements would have an extensive and costly impact on our industry. We support the Government's commitment to put in place a strong, swift and effective transitional process and urge them to avoid any kind of interruption to current trade agreements with EU countries or the creation of counterproductive tariff or non-tariff barriers. What we absolutely cannot see is a fall back to WTO default terms as the tariffs within WTO arrangements would have disastrous consequences for dairy trade.

"In addition to uninterrupted access to the EU market, our priorities for the UK dairy industry are to avoid the creation of non-tariff barriers and to retain access to productive labour."

Commenting on the issue of Northern Ireland's border with the Republic of Ireland, Dr Bryans added:

"We welcome the Prime Minister's decision to protect the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland dairy industry works hand in hand with the Irish dairy industry with common practices developed to improve efficiency and add value throughout the dairy supply chain."

She concluded:

"We pledge to give the Government our input to help make Brexit arrangements a success for the dairy industry and look forward to contributing to their work in this regard."


Dairy UK Calls for Continuity in Existing Border Arrangements to Safeguard NI Dairy Industry

Resolving issues around the future of the land border with the Republic of Ireland is critical for the dairy industry, said Dairy UK today.

Dr Mike Johnston, Northern Ireland Director at Dairy UK and Tim Acheson, General Manager of Food Service Operations at Lakeland Dairies, gave evidence to the House of Commons' Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning as part of the committee's inquiry on the future of the land border on the island of Ireland.

Dr Johnston said: "Over the last few decades, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have developed common practices to improve efficiency, maximise productivity and add value throughout the dairy supply chain. Through an 'all-island' value chain, dairy stakeholders in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland work closely together and rely on the free movement of people, raw materials and finished goods.

"We have an efficient, well-oiled system that works and delivers benefits to all dairy stakeholders north and south of the border. Dairy companies are focusing on seizing every opportunity available but the lingering uncertainty created by Brexit raises many concerns in terms of future investments and our ability to plan for the future."

Mr Acheson said: "Many dairy companies have operations spanning all over the island of Ireland. Any disruption to the free movement of raw milk or dairy products would have a major impact on dairy processors and dairy farmers while jeopardising our efficiency and our competitiveness."

Dr Johnston also highlighted the key role of exports and trade for the Northern Ireland dairy industry.

"Dairy exports to EU and non-EU countries are vital to our industry. Post-Brexit, we will need to be competitive not only with non-EU countries but also with our EU partners to gain access to new exports markets. We need a joined-up game plan between industry and Government to identify, target and secure new markets for dairy exports. We have tremendous potential to grow and we will focus on fostering collaboration throughout the supply chain and with Government and Parliament to achieve our goals."


Dairy UK Sets out Vision for Future Role of Groceries Code Adjudicator

Dairy UK said today it supports government proposals to extend the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) to cover smaller retailers and the food service.

In a submission to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy consultation on the issue, Dairy UK said the GCA has had a positive impact on commercial relations in the groceries markets. There is a case for extending the GCA's remit to smaller retailers and the food service sector as these retailers 'can exercise significant market power with smaller suppliers and the food service sector is of growing importance'.

However, Dairy UK firmly believes the GCA's remit should not be extended to cover relations between dairy farmers and milk purchasers.

Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said: "We fully support an extension of the GCA's remit to smaller retailers. Yet giving the GCA any role in regulating contractual relationships could lead to the GCA becoming the focal point for price disputes throughout the industry. This would be unwarranted as there is no systemic failure in the UK market."

In its submission, Dairy UK states UK dairy markets are operating efficiently and do not operate outside European norms. In most regions of the UK, the market for raw milk is competitive without any one purchaser being able to exercise market dominance. As a result, there are no instances of milk purchasers being able to set prices that are in opposition to the prevailing market trend.

Dairy UK also highlights that price volatility is an inherent feature of deregulated agricultural commodity markets. Globally, the degree of price volatility experienced in the UK is entirely consistent with other EU Member States and other major milk producing countries. There is also a high level of price transparency consistent with the needs of competing companies to protect commercially sensitive information.


British Cheese Board | Enjoy a dram and a slice this festive season

BCBlogoCMYKWhether it's a slice of mature cheddar or a taste of Somerset brie, the British Cheese Board has the perfect guide for some winning cheese and whisky pairings to enjoy over the festive period.

With over 700 varieties of named cheeses produced in the UK, and over 2,500 brands of whisky worldwide, the tasty combinations of cheese and whisky are endless.

Cheese and whisky are the perfect pair as the high level of alcohol in whisky cuts through the fat in cheese and allows for the flavours to be released. The undertones of grass, barrel fermented notes and salt are found in both whisky and cheese and complement each other well.

To celebrate the festive season, the British Cheese Board has a wealth of suggestions for the perfect cheese and whisky pairings.

Some top cheese and whisky pairings include:

  • Cheddar with either Linkwood 14yo or Dalwhinnie 15;
  • Somerset brie with Glenmorangie Original;
  • Or creamy Lancashire with either Glen Elgin 12yo or Asyla.

Luisa Candido of the British Cheese Board, said: "We all know that cheese and wine are always an excellent match but not a lot of people know that cheese and whisky also make a perfect combination.

"Many whiskies work hand in hand with cheese and bring out an array of flavours. A small glass of water is also advised to bring out the sweetness of the whisky and enhance the taste of the cheese.

"Our guide includes suggestions for all whisky fans, from beginners to connoisseurs and confirmed risk-takers. We're looking forward to celebrating the festive season with some delicious British cheese and a tasty dram."

The British Cheese Board also has a popular beer and cheese pairings guide available from the British Cheese Board website.

Categories: 2016


Dairy UK Update | Dairy APPG Seeking Industry Views on Skills & Labour


APPG-logo-PORTCULLISThe Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group is seeking evidence for its inquiry on skills and labour in the dairy industry.

The inquiry will focus on three chapters, namely skills in the dairy industry; the Government's role and actions; and Brexit challenges and opportunities for the dairy workforce.

Simon Hoare MP, Chair of the Dairy APPG, said: "The UK dairy industry provides a myriad of jobs from farm to fridge across the country. From farming to processing and manufacturing, from research to marketing and much more, there is something in the dairy sector for everyone.

"As the UK gets ready to write a new chapter of its history, we must help the dairy industry strengthen its position as an attractive industry, with opportunities for all to build a successful and rewarding career. Therefore, the Dairy APPG is keen to hear from dairy experts to get a better understanding of how it can support the sector going forward."

Written submissions should be sent to the Dairy APPG at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 23rd December 2016. Oral evidence sessions will be held in the new year.

The APPG is looking for evidence for the following sections:

Skills in the dairy industry

  • Skills and opportunities in dairy farming;
  • Skills and opportunities in dairy processing;
  • How to promote dairy careers;
  • Training & skills development programmes.

Government role

  • Role of the UK Government in supporting education and skills development in the dairy industry.

Brexit challenges & opportunities

  • Migrant labour in dairy farming;
  • Migrant labour in processing;
  • Access to European workforce throughout the supply chain;
  • Education exports (incoming foreign students + outgoing UK students).

Going further

  • Education: focus on consumers & the media.

Case studies / profiles

  • Dairy farmer, food scientist, vet, processing technician, etc...

Categories: 2016


New IDF President Sets Out Priorities for 2017

A few weeks after her election as President of the International Dairy Federation, Dairy UK Chief Executive Dr Judith Bryans answered a few questions about her vision for IDF in the IDF Newsbrief.

DPP 1218

When did you join the dairy industry?
I joined the dairy industry in 2004. I have a scientific background with a PhD in nutrition. My first role in the dairy industry was as a nutrition scientist for The Dairy Council, a science based organization with activities which cover academia and consumers. After a year, I became the Director of that organization.

Over the years, my interests and experiences broadened and in 2013 I became the Chief Executive of Dairy UK, a trade association representing the UK supply chain on public health, technical issues relating to supply chain integrity, environmental and sustainability issues, health and safety, agricultural issues which affect the supply chain (MAP, Johne's disease, antibiotics etc.) and policy.

Why did you choose dairy?
I wanted to move from academia to industry but I didn't want any old job for any old sector. I wanted to be able to talk about products I could be proud of, believe in and speak honestly about from a nutritional perspective. Dairy was the perfect fit.

If you didn't work in the dairy industry, what other sector would you have chosen?
That's a tricky question and I'm not sure I know the answer! As an Irish person I'm tempted to say potatoes just for a laugh but that would be just be a cheeky answer because in truth I don't know.

You've been involved in IDF activities since 2005. What's your best memory so far?
My best memory has got to be the moment Jeremy announced that the GA have voted me in as the new president. I mean – wow – that was amazing. For my colleagues in the IDF community around the world to put their trust in me to take forward an organization I truly believe in, is something that I can't even put into words.

Having said that, I have many great memories of IDF. My first IDF Summit was Vancouver and I remember sitting in the SCNH meeting and that was the first time I felt the camaraderie and friendship of the IDF experts and staff. I recognized the benefit and importance of having a strong global network all working for the same goal and having the ability to have a consensus. Let's be honest, it's not always easy to get consensus but when you can, it's a powerful thing.

And of course there are many, many more memories. Ones that have a much lighter and more fun note to them.

Why did you decide to run for IDF President?
Running for IDF President was not a decision I took lightly. I have been involved with IDF at every level, from member and Chair of the Standing Committee on Nutrition and Health to member of the Science Programme Coordination Committee and the Board.

Over the years, I saw the huge amount of good the organization has been engaged in, work that is essential for the sector. Work that IDF sometime the members don't even know about or that IDF is not recognized for. You will no doubt have heard many people say that if IDF didn't exist we'd have to invent it. Those are not just words for me, I firmly believe it. I knew IDF's potential, I knew what the organization can do for and on behalf of its members and I wanted to make sure we delivered. I decided to run for IDF President because I strongly believe in its vision and I wanted to help IDF reach its goals and speak in a clear, united voice.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for IDF?
The world is changing at an astonishing pace and if we want to ensure a role for dairy, we need to keep up. Think about how far we've gone in the last 70 years. In 1950, nobody used the word globalization. Sustainability and environmental issues were nowhere to be found on the agenda. Plant-based products were not an issue and dairy was an obvious choice. Consumers didn't interact with the media, they consumed messages.

Today, everything has changed. Globalization and sustainability are the new normal. Plant-based products have become serious – and often aggressive – competition. The way consumers perceive messages has gone through a profound evolution; the 21st century consumer engages, interacts and expects more and more from the media. Governments and intergovernmental organizations are lobbied heavily by consumer groups and activist groups who very often use emotive arguments and are not fact based.

We operate in a new environment which evolves constantly. Whether we are talking about the benefits of dairy from a nutritional, environmental or economic perspective we need to adapt so that our messages are fact based but told in a way that people can understand and want to engage with. Antimicrobial resistance, environmental issues, the march of the plant based product, animal welfare, maintaining our standards, demonstrating the role for our products in the diets of existing and future consumers to intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders, will all be challenges. And although we have some work to do, we have a good story. That means using IDF resources and expertise to help make our industry more modern, more responsive and ready to seize opportunities.

Why should a country join IDF?
There are many reasons for countries to join IDF. First of all, IDF provides the global expertise to represent the industry on a range of issues. If you don't have a seat at the IDF table, you don't have input into decisions which may affect you further down the line.

Every national dairy industry has potential reputational issues around food safety, standards, health and the integrity of production and processing methods. Through IDF, we can help countries share their successes but also their mistakes so other can learn from these experiences, creating their own successes and avoiding some mistakes. Additionally, emerging dairy markets will face issues developed markets have had to deal with before. And, developed markets can learn from innovative practices in new markets. We need each other and IDF can facilitate dialogues and foster cooperation throughout its membership.

We also have an essential role to play to defend the industry. I'm a scientist by trade and nothing angers me more than baseless claims or spurious arguments. That is why IDF's role is so important when working with international organizations. The science underpinning the dairy industry is formidable and by pulling our resources together, we can make a real difference.

We live in a world of perpetual noise with new conflicting and confusing messages sprouting every day and it is increasingly difficult to make ourselves heard. That's why I want IDF to be a repository of knowledge and a conduit between the global dairy sector and our key partners. We are here to articulate a message and work constructively with international organizations as their trusted partner.

The networking opportunities that IDF offers are second to none.

What's the industry biggest strength?

Dairy's credentials are unique. Dairy products are nutritious, wholesome and sustainable and the industry provides livelihoods to 1 billion people across the world. It's an industry that creates, innovates and always strives to do better. Not to mention that dairy products come in so many tastes, textures and flavours!

Where we have weaknesses, we recognize them and work towards improvement. Our biggest strength is that we have a million strengths so let's shout it from a mountaintop.


The Dairy Council | Ash Amirahmadi Takes the Lead at The Dairy Council

Ash Amirahmadi, senior vice president of sales at Arla UK, has been elected chairman of The Dairy Council.

Ash piccie

He succeeds Mr Sandy Wilkie of Müller Milk and Ingredients whose dedication to The Dairy Council over the seven years he led the organisation was recognised by the whole industry.Mr Amirahmadi is a highly-respected industry figure in the UK and internationally.

Ash Amirahmadi said today: "It is a privilege to take on the role of chairman of this organisation which has a proud record in communicating the many benefits of dairy.

"Milk and dairy play such an important role in the British diet – not only are they some of the most nutritious foods on the supermarket shelves, but they also continue to be one of the most popular.

"Dairy plays a crucial part in nutrition at all stages of life, however we are confronted all too often with negative and ill-informed criticism of dairy. It is therefore crucial that we at The Dairy Council continue to use our voice to demonstrate the outstanding nutritional contribution of dairy in leading a healthy lifestyle."

Ash joined Arla's UK business in 2004 and worked in commercial roles before joining the leadership team in 2010 where he was responsible for the company's relationship with farmers and helped to build Arla's corporate reputation. After a brief period as marketing director, Ash has now taken responsibility for growing Arla's business with UK customers.

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