J. Mark Huffman

Dairy industry representatives believe the newly-negotiated Korean Free Trade Agreement will provide a significant benefit to dairy producers. The U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation hailed the deal, saying it should provide better trading terms through lower tariffs and improved market opportunities for many U.S. dairy products, including cheese, milk and whey powders, evaporated milk, butter and ice cream, among many others. South Korea was the eighth largest market for U.S. dairy products last year, with sales of $65.7 million. This figure was up 12% from 2005, and up 51% from the 2001-04 average.

“Given strong Korean sensitivities on a number of agricultural commodities including dairy, we are pleased that we have an agricultural deal that will immediately help U.S. producers and manufacturers be more competitive in the Korean dairy market,” says Jaime Castaneda, NMPF senior vice president and USDEC senior policy advisor. 

The Food and Drug Administration’sfiscal year 2006 National Milk Drug Residue Database (NMDRD) survey found only 0.038% of all truckloads of raw milk tested positive for medicinal animal drug residues between October 2005 and October 2006. It’s the same level as the previous year, which was the lowest since the monitoring program began in the mid-1990s. Under the FDA monitoring program, state regulatory agencies collect data on every truckload of raw milk tested for drug residues; more than 3.4 million samples were analyzed from October 2005 to October 2006.

Food industry critics, eager to promote new regulations on food and beverage advertising aimed at children, are pointing to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study to bolster their cause. The study found that children 8 to 12 years of age see an average of 21 food ads a day, or 7,600 a year. Not surprisingly, food industry representatives took issue with the study’s findings and conclusions. Mary Sophos, senior v.p. and chief govt. affairs officer of the Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association, suggests the study may already be out of date.

“Given that the report was completed in 2005, it is only a snapshot that does not fully capture all of the industry efforts in this area since that time,” Sophos said.

 Included in those efforts, Sophos says, is the introduction of over 10,000 new and reformulated products with more whole grains and fiber, reduced calories, reduced saturated fat, zero trans fat, lower sodium and sugar. Companies have also tried to discourage over-indulging by providing 100-calorie packages and similar forms of portion controlled offerings.