(L to R): John Allan, IDFA vice president; Cary Frye, IDFA vice president; and Clay Hough, senior group vice president.
IDFA staff members joined more than 1,200 global dairy stakeholders from 50 countries in Vilnius, Lithuania, last week to discuss “Closing the Nutritional Gap with Sustainable Dairy” at the International Dairy Federation’s World Dairy Summit. The weeklong event drew dairy farmers, processors, researchers, marketers, policy makers and consumers to consider initiatives currently underway in the global dairy industry as well as key nutritional trends and scientific advances.
Representing IDFA at the meeting were Clay Hough, senior group vice president; Cary Frye, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs; and John Allan, vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. During the General Assembly meeting, Hough was elected to the IDF board of directors as the dairy processing sector representative, and Frye was honored with a certificate of appreciation as she completed her three-year term on the IDF board.
Allan continues to serve as deputy chair of the IDF Food Standards and Labeling Committee, which met along with all other standing IDF committees. IDFA will provide highlights from the business and committee meetings in a separate story in the coming week.
The summit ran Sept. 20-24 with a wide variety of session topics and an exhibition where attendees could see and taste the latest dairy product innovations.
One of the best-attended sessions was the World Dairy Leaders Forum on Sept. 21. The keynote speaker was H.E. Gerda Verburg, chair of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, who discussed the challenge of global food security and nutrition. She noted that the fight against hunger and malnutrition around the world is making progress, but more than 795 million people are still undernourished and more than one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted.
Following Verburg’s remarks, Elaine Sun, CEO of Mengniu, gave the Chinese perspective. She said companies should focus on three areas: “going out” to develop partnerships with overseas pastures and factories; “bringing in” cutting edge techniques and management resources, like Mengniu has done through strategic partnerships with Danone, Arla Foods and White Wave; and building a “win-win ecosystem” led by innovation.
Rajni Sekhri Sibal, the joint secretary of dairy development for the Government of India, said that organizing her country’s more than 15 million small producers into cooperatives has lifted many households out of poverty and “undernutrition.” Sustaining producer productivity and making milk available at affordable prices to large segments of the country’s population, specifically women and children, also were important steps to support nutrition security.
Dennis Jonsson, CEO of Tetra Pak, highlighted trends that are disrupting traditional consumption of milk, such as consumers leading busier lives and increased competition from other drinks with new tastes and enhanced benefits. He sees product development and communication with consumers as crucial links “to ensure the future of milk as a provider of nutrition.”
The final speaker on the panel was Berhe Tekola, director of the Animal Production and Health Division for the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Tekola identified milk and dairy products as the most important basic foods, particularly for children and the elderly, because these products provide the best source of calcium for good health and cognitive development. He also noted the important role that dairy products play in providing a sustainable livelihood for farmers, processors and others in the dairy supply chain.
Lithuania’s Dairy Industry
Attendees learned a great deal about the dairy industry in the meeting’s host country. Lithuania is a small country of about 2.9 million people, and dairy farming is one of its key agricultural sectors. The county has about 60,000 dairy farms with 313,000 cows that annually produce 1,800,000 metric tons of milk.
The milk is processed by five main dairy companies into butter and powder for export, hard cheese, fresh cottage cheese, a wide variety of yogurts, yogurt drinks and kefir, and beverage milk, as well as a unique refrigerated chocolate-coated cheesecake mini-bar and ice creams.
For more information about IDF or the World Dairy Summit, contact Frye at firstname.lastname@example.org or Allan at email@example.com.