Dairy UK takes issue with climate change report

Judith Bryans speaking at the All Party Parliamentary Group Cheese Reception in 2017

Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans says the industry “does not agree with the recommendation to cut dairy consumption by 20%”, and issued the response below to the publication of the British Committee Climate Change report ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’.

“The dairy sector takes its commitment to continuous improvement in the area of environmental sustainability very seriously and we firmly believe that agriculture can move to net zero.

“We fully agree with the need to reduce food waste and its impact on the environment, and happy to see the Committee’s report recognise the need to create a supportive environment for farmers to help them in making changes going forward. It is key that any changes asked for are based on consistent and strong scientific data.

“However we do not agree with the recommendation to cut dairy consumption by 20%. Dairy forms and important part of UK diets, beyond the mere provision of protein. It provides a range of vitamins and minerals which could not be easily substituted, leaving many consumers struggling to replace the valuable package of nutrients they get from dairy.

“The scale of change being requested by the Committee could result in the unintended consequence of micronutrient deficiencies resulting in negative health outcomes. We don’t want to see British consumers moving away from naturally nutrient rich foods towards taking supplements. It would also be inappropriate to encourage consumers to move away from dairy products towards alternatives, when the unintended consequences of doing so are not yet fully understood. This could see consumers having to navigate incredibly complex areas such as nutrition and sustainability when trying to complete their weekly shopping, without the sufficient knowledge to do so.

“It’s worth remembering that in the UK, milk production accounts for 2.8% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions and that as a sector we are continuing to work hard to further reduce the impact of dairy foods. Over the last decade we’ve already achieved a reduction of 24% in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we’ve made strides forward on water efficiency, biodiversity and food waste. Our ambition is to continue to build on those successes as well as taking other measures to improve the overall footprint of dairy.

“We are ready to work with the Committee on Climate Change to help ensure our industry plays its part in addressing climate change, and can be a part of a sustainable food system in the UK.”

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