I had the privilege of chairing the annual Global Dairy Congress in Athens last week. 191 delegates, 37 countries, 24 presentations – a 48 hour world industry community. What did we learn ? What did it achieve ?
Lots, actually. Information, insights, contacts, deals of course. But also a focus on some unresolved priorities for further action. At least, this was my take on it:
- Consumer education – Dairy has massive benefits to communicate, but needs to co-ordinate its resources and messages more effectively – a task that is beginning to be addressed by the Global Dairy Platform.
- Nutrition labelling – There was no appetite for traffic lights and no enthusiasm for guideline daily amounts, but nor has a viable alternative been found.
- Added value – There was a spring in the industry’s step as a result of improved sales, and greater confidence as a result of innovation success, but also an awareness that many traditions remain to be updated.
- Natural vs functional – This is a real dilemma for product developers, with so many natural attributes in the market mainstream and yet an expectation of gradual moves towards more sophistication and extra functionality on the fringes.
- Face the fats – 0% fat was seen by some as the middle way to achieve all of the taste with none of the drawbacks.
- Environment imperative – Numerous initiatives were in evidence from pack lightweighting to renewable energy, but dairy has a big footprint and will need support to improve recycling.
- School milk – The chance of a UN School Milk Centre was raised and greeted. This merits confirmation with alacrity. To have a UN backed World School Milk Day is a material asset and a dedicated UN unit would be a genuine investment.