Sustainability in the dairy industry can be a win-win
Maurice Boland, principal of the UCD College of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, gave the opening address at the 2012 Dairy Solutions Symposium in Lexington, Ky.oland, principal of the UCD College of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, gave the opening address at the 2012 Dairy Solutions Symposium in Lexington, Ky.
At the 6th Dairy Solutions Symposium, featuring speakers from dairy processing and dairy producing firms, the conclusion was unanimous: sustainability is the key to safeguarding the future and it needs to start now.
“Procrastination is the enemy of a sustainable world,” said Michael Hamell, head of the agriculture unit at the European Commission. “The route proposed needs difficult choices — if not taken, the margin for maneuver will get smaller in [the] future.”
The symposium was held in Lexington, Ky., in June.
Keynote speaker Padraig Brennan, senior business analyst from Bord Bia, said “impacts that are acceptable with seven billion people will not be with nine; we need to use less to produce more from less.”
He backed up this assertion with research on the growing awareness of consumers in the area of sustainability and environmental issues, showing 62% agreeing that they are more conscious of the environment when choosing products, and 55% stating that they would rather buy from companies who are also aware of these environmental issues.
Ronald Luijkx, manager dairy chain innovation at FrieslandCampina, said, “Sustainability doesn’t have to increase cost, it is a win-win if we are proactive and don’t wait on regulations, then we can influence the agenda,” he said. “If you wait for regulations, then it costs because changes need to happen instantaneously. The direction comes from the market. We need to work on elements that work on both sides, and then sustainability brings us money and a better impact, as long as we act first.”
Sean Molloy of Glanbia Dairy Ingredients said, “We recognize that the sustainability concept has a great benefit for Ireland and for the Irish dairy exporters. When we started looking at it initially we were being prompted by our customers, but when we examined the full concept we realized that it presented us some fantastic opportunities. In Glanbia’s view, however, there has to be an economic case for sustainability to justify investment by the various stakeholders.”
From a farming perspective, Alan Jagoe, dairy farmer and president of Macra na Feirme, explained sustainability as passing your farm to the next generation in better shape than one received it.. He said that, “There is a fear that sustainability will add more cost but in the long run I don’t think it has. We are at the start of a journey.”
The Dairy Solutions Symposium was co-hosted by University College Dublin and Alltech, one of the top 10 animal health companies in the world.