London, 27th June 2018: The UK dairy industry is 'increasingly strong, vibrant and ambitious' and can successfully deal with the unprecedented challenges and opportunities it now faces.
Speaking to industry leaders and politicians at Dairy UK's annual dinner in London, Paul Vernon, chairman of the organisation, said the UK dairy industry is one of great scale and relevance and plays a crucial role in consumer diets, rural communities, the economy and the nation's food security.
Mr Vernon revealed a number of changes to Dairy UK following a recent strategic review saying Dairy UK is fully committed to a new mission to 'promote the consumption of UK dairy products domestically and internationally'.
He said: "We will pursue this new mission through being a strong and influential processor-led organisation with partnerships with farmers and other stakeholders along the supply chain. This new focus will be integral to everything we do now and in the future and equally it will define what we won't do."
He said Dairy UK's immediate priorities will be to:
• Promote the nutrition and health benefits of dairy foods
• Promote the positive benefits of dairy with regard to the environment and society, as well as the industry's commitment to continuous improvement
• Address a number of clearly defined Brexit-related issues and the impending issues around the regulation of milk contracts
Mr Vernon said: "The changes we are making to the organisation are about delivering a stronger and more focused Dairy UK and making us ever more effective and relevant.
"We will be increasing our staffing and increasing our communications capabilities."
He said "The Dairy Council and the British Cheese Board will be fully integrated into Dairy UK. Nutrition and health will be given a renewed focus within Dairy UK and there will be increased promotion of cheese.
Mr Vernon highlighted the key priorities for the dairy sector which include an increased focus on:-
• Promoting the consumption of dairy products domestically and internationally.
• Securing a progressive post-Brexit trading environment.
• Ensuring that the Government understood the full implications for farmers and processors of their proposed regulation of raw milk contracts.
• Ensuring that the industry drives forward and that milk-based drinks remain exempt from the Government's sugar levy.
Mr Vernon also talked about the positive results already being seen as a result of the Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs. The Department was launched last year as a joint campaign between Dairy UK and AHDB Dairy to remind millennials why they fell in love with dairy.
Turning to Brexit, Mr Vernon said the clock is ticking and the industry needed stability and certainty of information.
"Let's be clear, as an industry we can deal with what is to come and make a success of it - but only if we know what form Brexit might take. Knowing what transition looks like is now key and we urge those in power to give us as much clarity as possible. The same can be said for dairy farmers. A post-Brexit agricultural policy must help the industry progress and not hold it back. We need to ensure our dairy farmers are not disadvantaged."
Proposed contract regulation has the potential could lead to greater insecurity and volatility which could be damaging for dairy processors and farmers, said Mr Vernon.
On the Government's sugar levy, he said that the industry must robustly press its case to ensure that the industry pushes forward and that milk-based drinks are not dragged into the levy, despite a strong lobby calling for that to happen.