Scotland’s dairy industry has the potential to boost output by 50% to 1.6bn litres a year by 2025, according to a government report.

The Scottish Dairy Review: “Ambition 2025”, carried out by Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers on behalf of the Scottish government, outlines 19 key recommendations for sustainable economic growth in the sector.

Similar to the Irish government’s Food Harvest 2020 report launched in July 2010, which outlined plans to grow Irish food exports by 42% by 2020, the Scottish Dairy Review calls for a 50% boost in dairy output through a collaborative approach throughout the supply chain.

Among the recommendations are plans to target key priority export markets; the development of an independent Scottish Dairy Bureau to provide information, advice and training; formalising the structure of dairy producer groups and work to emphasise the health benefits of drinking milk.

In addition, a Scottish Dairy Growth Board will be formed to oversee the development of “Ambition 2025”, with an “experienced business leader” at the helm.

“I believe by 2025 we will see a transformed industry in this country,” said Mr Withers, author of the report. “It is one which can significantly grow its output – by up to 50% – as a direct result of creating new added-value markets. Import substitution is an important priority, but the real game-changer will be the development of new export markets.”

Scotland’s dairy sector had a massive role to play in meeting the country’s target of reaching a £16.5bn turnover in the food and drink industry by 2017, including £7bn from exports, added Mr Withers.

“A lot of work is required and the first step is a commitment to Ambition 2025 from all parties. I’ve been particularly pleased by the commitment during this review of producers, dairy companies and their representative bodies to this new agenda,” he said.

Scots farm minister Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish brand is opening new doors all around the world – Scotch Whisky and Scottish salmon have blazed the trail. There’s no reason why our dairy sector cannot take advantage of that and be up there with the best.”

Government, dairy farmers and the processing sector needed to collaborate and have a joint vision for the future, he said. “Only by doing that and with that change of mindset can the industry take advantage of the big opportunities out there.”

NFU Scotland welcomed the report and called for immediate creation of the Scottish Dairy Growth Board, to drive forward a “unified Scottish dairy sector”.

“More effective collaboration up and down the supply chain will be the key to this review’s success,” said milk committee chairman Gary Mitchell.

“If all parties share in this vision of growing the market for Scottish dairy produce and jointly share in the risks and the benefits, that gives confidence to all parts of the chain to invest in their business for the future.”

Dairy UK director general Jim Begg welcomed the review and said the Scottish dairy sector needed to be ambitious to deliver fully on its potential.

“The Scottish dairy sector has enormous growth potential particularly, as Withers points out, in export markets. Now is the time to talk-up the prospects and opportunities for the sector,” he said.

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