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Global Dairy Leaders Meet in Mexico City to Discuss Industry Hot Topics

Nov 24, 2008

Issues surrounding sustainability, nutrition and health, food safety, and the global dairy economy took center stage, both in general sessions and casual conversations, at the recent World Dairy Summit in Mexico City. Held November 11-14, this annual meeting of the International Dairy Federation drew a large crowd of producers, processors and dairy suppliers representing over 35 countries. IDFA senior staff members attended the Summit as well as several global dairy committee and business meetings held in the same location earlier in the week. Cary Frye was an invited speaker at Summit. She provided an international overview of the regulatory challenges related to nutrient profiling and opportunities with promoting nutrient richness for dairy product labeling.

"These meetings provide a tremendous opportunity to network with other dairy industry leaders from around the world," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We find that many of the same dairy issues that we face in the United States are common in other countries."

Sustainability is one such issue. The dairy industry in the European Union and Oceania have made great strides in evaluating and benchmarking their carbon footprint, said Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, who also attended the meeting. To allow for efficient transfer of knowledge, IDF recently formed a sustainability task force to document effective benchmarks and approaches that can be shared within the global dairy industry.

Developing proper methods of analysis and sampling, another general session topic, is a critical foundation for the industry's marketing efforts to enhance international trade and improve consumer confidence.

"With the consumer's interest in nutrition and its effect on overall health, the industry needs to ensure that it has trustworthy methods in place to verify dairy product nutrient levels for nutrition claims," Sayler said. "These same methods are also important for defending the top-quality image of our dairy products, especially in light of the melamine crisis affecting China's dairy products."

In addition to the Summit, several IDF standing committees met to elect new leaders and discuss current issues. Bob Yonkers, IDFA vice president and chief economist, was named the new chair of the Dairy Policies and Economics Committee. After reaching the term limit as chairs for their committees, Sayler and Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, were named deputy chairs. Sayler serves on the Standing Committee on Food Additives, and Frye serves on the Standing Committee on Food Labeling. The December 8 edition of News Update will include more details about these meetings.

While in Mexico City, IDFA staff also attended the second annual meeting of the Global Dairy Platform (GDP), which was co-located with the Summit. Global Dairy Platform is an international non-profit organization based in Chicago that unites leading dairy corporations, cooperatives and associations in an effort to coordinate industry resources, reduce duplication of research and promotional efforts, and expand global demand for milk and dairy products. At the meeting, GDP executives discussed several research projects currently underway, including nutritional profiling, promoting adoption of health claims such as dairy's role in reducing hypertension, dairy’s important role in reducing the global obesity challenge and using science to reposition milkfat and differentiate it from saturated fats.

IDFA joined GDP last year as an associate member, and Frye is a member of the organization's Communication and Scientific Advisory Board, which guides GDP's efforts.

For more information, contact Sayler at or Frye at


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