This year all those involved in the dairy industry should have been sighing with relief as the effects of foot and mouth have dissipated and early moves to foster a new spirit of understanding along the supply chain were strengthened.
Yet, as you will read in this supplement, the past year has been one of the most difficult for the dairy industry for over a decade. After initial rises at the end of 2000 and early 2001, wholesale dairy commodity prices fell to levels few had seen before, while farm gate milk prices collapsed to levels last seen two years ago.
In response we had media and consumers blaming retailers, retailers blaming processors for exploiting the situation, farmers blockading processors' depots and a general mistrust reappear across the chain.
Inevitably this has led to renewed calls for farmers to form co-operatives to gain more muscle.
Consolidation has continued and this year threw up a number of shocks ­ the megamerger between arch rivals New Zealand Milk and Arla Foods and Danone's purchase of Shape among them. These deals are helping to reinvigorate categories and drive NPD, especially in the area of value added products, which should boost the industry generally.
And it looks as if the coming year will see even more activity. As analysts say, there is still another round of consolidation to go.

Siâ® Harrington, supplement editor

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