Members of the nation’s largest dairy processor organization, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), gathered in Florida this week for their annual Dairy Forum. Dairy Profit Weekly editor, Dave Natzke, was there and reported Friday that the overriding theme was echoed by IDFA CEO Connie Tipton, who compared the current state of the dairy industry to the recent presidential election; “Voters wanted change and consumers are telling the food and dairy industry they want change, too.”
Tipton told the record crowd that consumers want to know how and where food is produced, they want healthier foods with limited added ingredients, they link “processed” foods with obesity, and they want food companies to help solve society’s issues such as global warming and sustainability.
Tipton said current economic conditions are trapping dairy processors in an environment of extreme price volatility, Natzke said, and repeated IDFA’s long-held opinion that the federal milk marketing order system must be overhauled.
She warned that a proposal to expand the Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law to dairy products would create hardships for processors who use multiple ingredients from multiple sources and produce products in multiple batches.
Tipton and other Dairy Forum speakers said improving the nation’s economy will likely dominate the Obama administration and congressional action for much of 2009, leaving little time to address federal dairy issues.
On a positive note, Tipton said yogurt held tremendous growth potential for the U.S. dairy industry; the proliferation of U.S. restaurants worldwide, a reversal of the current downturn in the global economy, and new trade agreements would benefit the U.S dairy foods industry, according to Natzke.
Other dairy Forum topics covered food safety and traceability, labeling, new innovations, and a dairy industry initiative to identify dairy’s carbon footprint from the farm to the grocery store.
“Given the state of the economy, the tone of this year’s forum was much more open to technology applications in the dairy industry as a way to address dairy food availability and affordability,” Natzke concluded, and said he would address some of those topics in future reports. Click Here For More Dairy News