UK DAIRY INDUSTRY SETS OUT ‘GAME CHANGING’ HOPES AND FEARS OVER BREXIT

  • UK dairy industry turns over £27.8 billion-a-year and supports 70,000 jobs, which should be recognised in Brexit negotiations
  • Investment in UK dairy remains high despite uncertain climate
  • Consumers show loyal support for dairy products in the face of alternative food and drinks

Dairy UK, the representative body of the UK dairy industry, today published the “White Paper” report for 2017 which details the ‘game changing’ opportunities and challenges which the industry is facing over issues such as Brexit and consumer confidence in dairy foods.

Dairy UK said Brexit is the most defining issue the industry has faced for generations and the White Paper identifies what Brexit needs to deliver to safeguard the future interests of an industry that employs more than 70,000 people and has an overall turnover of nearly £28 billion.

On Brexit, Dairy UK says:

  • Continued trading agreements with the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers will mean massive export and growth opportunities – failure will damage exports and reduce demand for dairy.
  • The worst outcome from Brexit would be a return to WTO rules.
  • An unhurried transition period would give the industry the chance to adapt and take advantage of Brexit.
  • Access to skilled and unskilled labour is vital – failure to secure this will drive up operating costs, with a major impact on margins.
  • UK dairy farmers should not be disadvantaged compared with their European neighbours.
  • The Northern Ireland border issue should be resolved by creating a frictionless and seamless border regime that could be a blueprint for future arrangements with the EU.

On consumer confidence, Dairy UK says:

  • UK consumers continue to support dairy loyally despite the arrival of plant-based alternative drinks and anti-dairy activism.
  • 87% consumers are drinking cow’s milk, 94% of adults buying cheese and 78% enjoying yogurt or fromagefrais.
  • Latest figures show continuous growth in volume and value of sales of milk, cream, cheese yogurt, butter and organic dairy products.
  • The UK government should ensure that nutrient-rich dairy products should remain exempt from the forthcoming Sugar Drinks industry levy.

Paul Vernon, chairman of Dairy UK, said: “We are a consumer led, dynamic and strategically important industry. The White Paper demonstrates that consumers’ love for dairy remains very strong and we have to ensure that we are equipped and ready to continue to help feed the nation for generations to come.

“Brexit is a monumental challenge and game changing, however despite the uncertain climate, investment by dairy companies remains in excess of £100 million per year.  If Brexit is successfully delivered there is tremendous potential in terms of exports and product development. If it is a failure, there will be far reaching consequences for dairy. The stakes could not be higher and there is a fine balance between creating a climate where we can seize the opportunities that Brexit may present and being left with seriously detrimental trading conditions.

“No effort can be spared by the industry, the UK government and the EU to secure a positive outcome and we will continue to give every assistance to the government to make that happen.”

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, added: “The White Paper details the performance of our industry across a wide range of areas including nutrition, consumer trends, farming and milk processing, animal health and welfare and the environment.

“It shows we have a track record we can be proud of but, like any major industry, we have to maintain our deep commitment to continually improve and innovate. Ultimately, we are judged by consumers and we are very grateful for the outstanding and enduring support they give to dairy.”

The full White Paper can be accessed here: http://www.dairyuk.org/images/documents/publications/THE-WHITE-PAPER-2017.pdf