Dairy doesn’t sleep

I spent a decent portion of the last working week on my computer, watching dairy leaders from around the world discuss the effects of the pandemic on the industry, and what the industry did in response – continue to feed the world with nutritious products. Overall, it was quite a feat on the part of the organisers in Denmark and of the international dairy industry in general, to produce a conference with both in-person and remote sessions. But this is not the first time that dairy has stepped up to the plate and managed to deliver.

As Lactalis CEO Philippe Palazzi put it, “Every country had a lockdown, everything stopped, except the cows. They we still producing milk, and so we had to collect, we couldn’t miss one day, and everyone was collecting milk every day. The industry did not close one plant, and we had employees sleeping in the plants. I was really impressed how people were brave when doing their jobs.”

Like their health service counterparts, the dairy industry did not get a day off. Cows don’t know there are religious holidays, they just keep producing. And so, dairy processors provide for their countries every day, without fail.

Dr Judith Bryans also made a good point in her discussion of the Food Systems Summit, that the UN SDGs they are aiming for, dairy has already been working on, such as keeping people fed. “School milk programmes still continued to deliver even as school meal programmes stopped during the pandemic,” she noted.

The IDF continues to engage with the UN via national committees to help deliver on SDGs, and she said that the industry does have to continue to stay involved with these processes, as a lot of people at the summit were trying to influence the decision makers – who have particular ideologies and don’t want facts to get in the way of opinion. “There were some very hostile moments for dairy, which we had to work through. So we need to bring balance to the table, as can’t expect the world to understand us if we don’t engage,” she observed.

As an industry we are ahead of the curve when it comes to assessing climate change and making moves to lessen the load of dairy agriculture on the planet. But, like in the pandemic, we’re not getting a day off for this.



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