Global companies are closing ranks to raise the profile of dairy products.

Four major producers including Arla Foods have launched the Global Dairy Platform to co-ordinate and plan generic marketing and research.

The body will not fund any activities but will help develop common themes from one country to another and share information. The head office will be in Chicago.

The platform also aims to co-ordinate the fight against negative perceptions of milk as a fatty product. The platform will analyse and make available research from across the world on the nutritional benefits of milk. It is being headed by Kevin Bellamy, who quits as head of the Milk Development Council at the end of January. Andrew Ferrier, currently CEO of Fonterra Foods, will become chairman.

"GDP will ensure that dairy is an essential part of the daily diet, to achieve its rightful position in a more unified manner across all regions," Ferrier said.