Dairy 2020 will build on the work of the Dairy Supply Chain Forum's Milk Roadmap the industry's environmental sustainability strategy, published in 2008 but will go beyond environmental issues to also include social and economic sustainability.
The project is being spearheaded by a seven-strong steering committee Asda, Dairy UK, Defra, the NFU, First Milk, DairyCo and Volac, a dairy powder and ingredients manufacturer. Excluding Defra and the NFU, the committee members have each invested £25,000 in the project.
The first phase of Dairy 2020 will kick off around May or June with some scenario modelling by Forum for the Future to identify the risks and opportunities the dairy industry will face over the next nine years.
According to Andy Richardson at Volac, who is managing communications for Dairy 2020 along with First Milk, the exact parameters have yet to be decided but are likely to focus on issues such as milk prices, climate change and availability of raw materials. As part of its social sustainability remit, Dairy 2020 will also consider what role the dairy industry will play in managing the countryside and contributing to rural communities.
The Dairy 2020 team will publish strategies and objectives for the industry by mid-autumn.
Chris Brown, Asda head of sustainable and ethical sourcing, said the retailer had been attracted to Dairy 2020 because of this "multi-dimensional" approach. "Other projects have been a bit one-dimensional," he said.
Richardson said it was important that as many industry players as possible got involved, and that contributions were open to all, not just those on the steering committee or those financing the project. He said Defra minister Jim Paice had urged the industry to engage fully with sustainability projects, citing Dairy 2020 as a key example.