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Farmers urged to do things differently at Semex dairy conference

Experts highlighted the bright future for the UK dairy industry despite prospects of a difficult recovery in the coming years


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Prof David Hughes told Semex attendees the dairy market was becoming more fragmented
Prof David Hughes told Semex attendees the dairy market was becoming more fragmented

Businesses who challenge themselves through periods of moderate prices will be well prepared when recovery arrives in the dairy industry, one expert claimed.

 

Opening this year’s Semex dairy conference in Glasgow, Michael Dennison, national sales manager for Semex, urged farmers to think differently about how they ran their business and avoid doing things in the same ways they had before.

 

"The worst seven words in the English dictionary are ’we have always done it this way’," Mr Dennison said.

 

"In my opinion many businesses have challenged themselves when prices have been pretty moderate. When the market improves they will be very strong."

 

The conference heard price recovery in the UK dairy sector may take time, but Mr Dennison urged the farm industry to remain optimistic, and said ’stayability’ was currently a key word in dairying.

 

During his afternoon address to the conference, David Hughes, professor of food marketing at Imperial College, London, built on some of these themes and discussed a growing fragmentation in the UK dairy market which offered opportunities for added value goods.

 

"The market is fragmenting and we need a much better understanding of what drives the industry here," he said. "People want their milk with adjectives."

 

Mr Hughes discussed the growing opportunities for milk produced with specific welfare considerations and products high in specific content. He suggested most trends in food favoured the capabilities of the dairy market and also noted the power of brands in adding value to dairy.

 

The issue of the importance of branding to add value to products and increase returns to the farm gate was a running theme throughout the conference’s first day

 

During her address, NFU deputy president Minette Batters said promotion and marketing was vital to the dairy sector. She also posed questions about the need for generation dairy promotion through AHDB.

 

She said: "British dairy farmers are perceived as an iconic part of rural Britain. At present we are leaving all of our promotion on dairy products to the processors, you have to ask yourselves if that is the right approach."

 

The issue of generic promotion through the levy body was raised several times during the conference’s first day with differing views.

 


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High food prices and volatility

During his address to the conference Mr Hughes also discussed the relationship between high food prices and volatility in emerging markets.

 

The video below shows his analysis of the relationship.

 

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