Strengthen co-operation

Better collaboration between farmers, processors and retailers is needed to kickstart much-needed innovation in the dairy sector, according to a new report commissioned by the Milk Development Council.

In a wide-ranging look at the obstacles affecting the uptake of new ideas, the report, Barriers to Innovation in the UK Dairy Industry, highlighted red tape, poor understanding of consumer needs and a lack of formal business training as some of the main stumbling blocks.

Dairy consultant authors David Lattimore, Paul Kearney, and John Taylerson warn that a failure to tackle many of these issues could put the UK industry at a competitive disadvantage to more dynamic foreign businesses.

But they also sounded a positive note, saying that many of the problems would not be difficult to fix.

And the strength of co-operation they encountered while researching the report suggested there was plenty of will to increase dairy innovation.

MDC marketing director Liz Broadbent said the study was a snapshot of the industry and would form the foundation for further action.

“I’m very optimistic about the dairy industry.

There is a window of opportunity as people’s attitudes to healthy products change.

“For instance, they are taking fizzy drinks out of schools and we’ve got to get in there very quickly so we don’t lose out to water and orange juice.

We are starting to get the right branded products in place.”

But she agreed with the report’s authors that more research into market opportunities was vital.

The MDC has just finished a survey of 1000 consumers’ dairy buying habits and is now looking into what influences shoppers’ decisions.