IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch this week launched a concerted bid to convince UK dairy farmers - and the rest of the supply chain - that they were not about to disappear down the tubes.
Speaking at the Semex dairy conference in Glasgow this week, she said: “I’m actually optimistic. All of the evidence I’ve seen, particularly from IGD’s consumer research, suggests the market is ready for a new chapter in which there’s much greater tailoring to individual needs with more emphasis on quality and less on price.
“The market is ready for a new chapter, whether it’s the revival of local foods, the backlash against globalisation, a
consumer who cares about the provenance of foods or the opportunities provided by health, nutrition and diet.”
This depended on moving away from commodities,
innovation in new product development, satisfying unmet consumer needs and increased branding as proven by products such as Cravendale, she said.
“I think the dairy co-ops, who are now in a much better position to innovate rather than just trade, will be the key,” she said. A rolling programme of innovation was necessary, but with Tesco giving the IGD-run Food Chain Centre access to its Clubcard base, she predicted farmers and the rest of the chain would benefit.
“I recognise that dairy farmers are urgently in need of short-term relief, but we mustn’t be paralysed by this single issue.
“The industry is certainly moving in the right direction. Now we need to step on the accelerator, build critical mass and capitalise on opportunities.”
But she also warned against complacency. “The international supply chain is slick. Don’t take the home market for granted.”
Vic Robertson