There’s revolution in the air in the dairy industry. The recent farmer protests managed to propel dairy to the top of the news agenda for much of the summer, prompting price concessions from the processors and higher premiums from the country’s leading retailers.
Structurally, too, the industry is changing rapidly, with the merger of Arla and milk Link and Müller’s acquisition of Wiseman this year poised to create a new set of power players in British dairy.
But the real milk revolution has yet to start. Adding value doesn’t sound like the stuff of revolution in the way a protest or blockade does, but it will require just as radical an attitude. With bulk cream prices - blamed for much of the industry’s current troubles - tipped to rise again, it could be tempting to wait for global markets to take the edge of the discontent revealed over the summer. That would be a wasted opportunity.
The dialogue instigated by the farmer protests, which has already resulted in much-needed progress on the voluntary code of conduct on contracts, now needs to accelerate the wider debate on how to inject value back into the milk market.
In partnership with two leading creative agencies, we’re showcasing two examples in this supplement of where we think future added-value opportunities for milk could lie - through new supermarket fixture designs and marketing milk as a sports drink.
One look at the proud faces and great stories of the cheesemakers behind our British regional cheese gems should remind everyone that this is an industry still capable of inspiring tremendous passion. It’s a thought worth holding on to as the supply chain works to stop its summer of discontent from turning into an autumn of woe.