EUROPE – A new independent report conducted by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has analysed the interlinked challenges and opportunities across the value chain of the European dairy sector.

The report, which was commissioned by the European dairy cooperative Arla Foods, points to concrete action that can be taken to ensure a sustainable future of the sector.

According to the report’s findings, there is a need for the dairy industry, politicians, governments and interest groups to work even more closely together going forward if the European dairy sector is to continue to evolve into a sustainable business and production model.

In addition, the report stresses on the necessity to strike a fair balance between the economic, environmental and social aspects of the sector, as these are intrinsic to securing its sustainable future.

Currently, the European dairy sector is already operating within this central space, with many viable farm businesses delivering quality nutrition to consumers, which is produced sustainably.

However, moving the whole of the dairy sector in this direction will require partnerships and those affected within the sector will need to be supported throughout the transition and incentivised to be part of the change.

Challenges, opportunities and recommendations

The report seeks to clarify the challenges and opportunities that face the sector in Europe in the future and calls for need for the dairy industry to continue on the accelerated path towards carbon net zero production while driving up standards for animal welfare and production transparency.

The report also recommends a CAP reform to support farmers in the transition towards greater sustainability whilst increasing the quality and value of the products delivered.

Moreso, the European dairy industry is also encouraged to promote a level playing field on animal welfare standards, food labelling and a clear definition of what a sustainable diet in order to inform decision making.

Commenting on the findings and recommendations of the report, CEO at Arla Foods, Peder Tuborgh said:

“We need to take all these elements of dairy’s impact into account when we identify the right path to maintain and develop an economic stable European dairy sector that is actively taking part in creating a sustainable future.”

While the dairy sector is known to significantly contribute to the economic, social and environmental fabric of Europe, the report found a need to develop pathways to enable young farmers to enter the industry to bring new skills, ideas and approaches to the sector.

Dairy products are found in the majority of fridges across Europe and, according to the European Dairy Association, there are 700,000 dairy farms across Europe and 300,000 people working in dairy processing.

“The report recommends that we come together as an industry and work closely with governments, interest groups and consumers. I am confident that this can be achieved, and I know that Arla Foods will play its part,” Tuborgh added.