UK – Dairy UK, the body that represents the dairy industry in the UK has published a report detailing the opportunities and challenges, which the industry is facing as Brexit talks continue and consumer confidence in dairy foods faces new territory.

The ‘White Paper’ report for 2017, notes that Brexit is the most defining issue the industry has faced for generations, and has identified what Brexit needs to deliver to safeguard the future interests of the farmers, processors and other stakeholders its represents.

The dairy industry in the UK employs more than 70,000 people, and has an overall turnover of nearly £28 billion (US$36.8 billion).

“The White Paper demonstrates that consumer love for dairy remains very strong, and we have to ensure that we are equipped and ready to continue to help feed the nation for generations to come.

“Brexit is a monumental challenge and a game changer. If Brexit is successfully delivered there is tremendous potential in terms of exports and product development. If it is a failure, there will be far reaching consequences for dairy,” said Paul Vernon, Chairman of Dairy UK.

The reports highlights that the dairy industry has a bright prospect, with the revealing that ‘game changing’ opportunities exist in the face of increasing demand for dairy products globally, putting world milk production on an upward trend.

On the issue of Brexit, Dairy UK believes that as politicians negotiate terms of Brexit, the current trade arrangements and access to EU labour are critical to the future of the dairy industry in the UK.

The industry body has also opposed a return to the WTO rules after Brexit, calling it the ‘worst’ scenario.

It has also called for an unhurried transition period during the transition phase, while having a ‘frictionless and seamless’ border with Northern Ireland, while the UK farmer should not be disadvantaged after Brexit.

“Continued trading agreements with the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers will mean massive export and growth opportunities; but failure will damage exports and reduce demand for dairy for UK farmers,” it says.

The White Paper reveals has revealed that demand for dairy is growing globally and that milk prices are on an upward trend.

The report has urged the Government is to work collaboratively with the industry to help exploit export opportunities around the world and also to review the Eatwell Plate Guide to take account of the benefits of dairy products to consumers.

It has also urged that dairy products remain exempt from the forthcoming Sugar Drinks Industry Levy when it is implemented next year.

“No effort can be spared by the industry, the UK government and the EU to secure a positive outcome and we will continue to give every assistance to the government to make that happen.

“Given the increase in global demand for dairy, prospects are good. We do, however, need to seize the moment – and that will require yet more of the innovation and inspiration that have been the hallmark of our industry for generations.”