The report, commissioned by Arla Foods, points to concrete action that can be taken to ensure a sustainable future of the sector.
Conducted by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the study finds there is a need for the dairy industry, politicians, governments and interest groups to work more closely together going forward if the European dairy sector is to continue to evolve into a sustainable business and production model. It also points to the necessity to strike a balance between the economic, environmental and social aspects of the sector.
The IEEP says there are already many viable farm businesses delivering products that are created sustainably. Yet moving the whole of the dairy sector in this direction will require partnerships and those affected within the sector will need to be supported throughout the transition and incentivized to be part of the change.
Arla CEO Peder Tuborgh said, “We wanted an honest and realistic appraisal of the European dairy industry and it was important that an independent third party did this research. The report clearly sets out the challenges.
“But it is also clear how much the dairy sector gives back to Europe. We need to take all these elements of dairy’s impact into account when we identify the right path to maintain and develop an economic stable European dairy sector that is actively taking part in creating a sustainable future.”
He added he hopes the report will be appreciated as a contribution to the ongoing discussions about how Europe and its food sector should transition into a sustainable continent in terms of economy, environment, health and quality of life as outlined in the European Green Deal.
Over a six-month period, the IEEP interviewed stakeholders across the value chain, from dairy farmers, to machinery manufacturers, trade unions, environmental and animal welfare NGOs and consumer groups. The results were then peer reviewed by a panel of international academics representing interests across the value chain.
Among the recommendations in the report are:
A need for the dairy industry to continue on the accelerated path towards carbon net zero production while driving up standards for animal welfare and production transparency.
A need for the CAP reform to support farmers in the transition towards greater sustainability whilst increasing the quality and value of the products delivered, preferably by incentivizing positive change rather than penalizing.
A need for a level playing field across the EU on animal welfare standards, food labeling and a clear definition of what a sustainable diet is to help consumers make more informed decisions and comparisons about the foods they buy.
A need to develop pathways to enable young farmers to enter the industry to bring new skills, ideas and approaches to the sector.
Tuborgh said, “The report recommends that we come together as an industry and work closely with governments, interest groups and consumers. I am confident that this can be achieved, and I know that Arla Foods will play its part. As a farmer cooperative we have a great sense of responsibility to lead the dairy sector and to establish the necessary partnerships.”