And the industry needs to turn around the ‘negative’ narrative about an industry lurching from crisis to crisis to a positive view of the future, according to Ash Amirahmadi.
Trade policy was key to the future success of the dairy industry, and the Government needs to reconsider trade tariffs which would put the industry at a ‘severe competitive disadvantage’.
That was the message from Dairy UK vice-chair and Arla Foods UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi as he looked towards the future.
And he called on the industry to turn around the negative narrative of an industry lurching from one crisis to another and be positive about the future of the industry.
He said when he joined the dairy industry in 2004 it was a scary place with lots of noise about the industry ‘lurching from one crisis to another’.
Mr Amirahmadi said there had been ‘plenty of bumps’ along the road but he was now incredibly positive about the future.
“Now we are starting to see right through the value chain whether its farmer end, processor end even retailer end we are starting to see some real leadership being shown,” he said, highlighting product innovation.
“The fact that dairy is starting to disrupt other categories, yes we are being disrupted ourselves by things like plant based but actually dairy is moving to soft drinks as well and I think that is a fantastic place to be.”
While the industry was filled with passionate people, he emphasised the industry needed a trade policy which allowed them to continue to succeed.
Mr Amirahmadi said the tariff levels chosen by the Government for butter and cheddar cheese were ‘simply not sufficient’ and the lack of tariffs on other products would put the industry at severe competitive disadvantage.
“The negative economic impact of this would be felt throughout the supply chain,” he said.
He called for Dairy UK to be shown the thinking behind the figures and for the industry to feature prominently in policy.
And he said the industry ‘thrive’ through a comprehensive trading agreement with the EU or alternatively a policy that does not undermine UK farmers and processors.
He also urged the MPs in the room to protect the future of school milk.
On consumers, he highlighted the popularity of dairy produce and called on the industry to ‘inspire’ its customers to keep dairy in their diet.
He added from news headlines it seemed people were ‘running away from dairy’ but a move to ‘flexitarianism’ had actually boosted cheese sales as people look for alternative proteins to meat.
“If we do not inspire our consumers to continue to love our products nobody will. So we all have a role to play in telling that story.”