The biggest future threat to the world dairy industry could be the possibility of scientists replicating dairy milk’s nutritional profile synthetically in laboratories.
This was one of the thoughts offered at a Dairy Connect producer workshop last month featuring executive director of the Global Dairy Platform, Donald Moore.
Synthetic milk would be a far greater challenge to producers than the current cross-generational movement to replace animal-sourced foods with plant-sourced foods, he said.
Mr Moore heads up a team of five that goes to work in Chicago each week with the primary mission of building the power and reach of the dairy industry around the world.
He has spent the past 17 years in dairy, 10 years of which were servicing international markets at a senior management level working for Fonterra out of New Zealand.
The challenges facing the industry in ‘developed’ markets were reasonably uniform in most countries and these included the rise and rise of plant-sourced milk alternatives.
Emerging economies faced a whole raft of different challenges with a lack of industrial and communications infrastructure and softer nutritional education programs, he said.
He told the producer workshop that with a world population of 7 ½ billion in 2017, dairy ‘supported’ around one billion people internationally.
“Around the world, six billion people were regular milk and dairy product consumers,” he said.
“Of the approximate one billion people supported by the industry, 600 million lived on dairy farms and 400 million worked in industry support.
“A total of 240 million were employed full-time in dairy jobs.
“And, a magnificent total of 37 million women ran dairy farms.”
Mr Moore said global opportunities for dairy were opening up largely in Africa and those parts of Asia with developing middle classes.
“There are a number of rapidly developing mega-cities in Africa with burgeoning numbers joining the middle class,” he said.
“In this context and in these markets, the best definition for middle class is a person earning US$10 a day who is looking for quality nutrition for his or her kids.”
Challenges for the industry around the world include apparently growing opposition to consumption of animal-based protein including milk.
“In terms of sustainability, we know farming land availability is limited and water for farm production may become scarcer,” he said.
“The Global Dairy Platform’s pathway forward will focus on internally aligning the industry around the world so we are all on the same page of the plan.
“We will continue to engage with critical United Nations’ agencies such as Food and Agriculture and we will seek to forge partnerships around nutritional security, sustainability and dairy development including innovation.
“It’s important to be at the UN to ensure we can correct imbalances and misconceptions.”