AHDB Dairy has earmarked £3.5m to promote British dairy produce over the next three years, including plans to apply for EU support for a co-funded dairy marketing campaign.
Farmers’ representatives of the levy board approved a dairy market development plan during a vote taken at an AHDB Dairy board meeting, held on 16 March.
During the board meeting, members also agreed to work with Dairy UK to establish a dairy marketing forum to explore opportunities for a co-funded dairy campaign.
However, the introduction of such a campaign would be subject to a successful application in the next EU funding window in February 2017.
AHDB Dairy strategy director Amanda Ball told Farmers Weekly up to £1m of levy money could potentially be freed up to kick-start a campaign to promote UK dairy – with a similar amount of money invested by Dairy UK.
She added: “We will apply to the EU for funding for the campaign next February. AHDB Dairy will potentially be able to free up £1m, but that would be subject to us putting in a successful application to the EU and receiving match-funding from other groups.”
Opportunities for dairy
AHDB Dairy and Dairy UK hope the deal will also lever further funding from the EU in what could eventually become a dairy promotional campaign worth between £6m and £8m.
Ms Ball said AHDB Dairy would also work with Dairy UK and its exporters group to highlight what AHDB currently does in other sectors and use that to identify opportunities for dairy. “There is much to be done and we are already in preliminary discussions with Dairy UK,” she added.
She said a “small proportion” of the £3.5m funding would be spent on existing projects in partnership with the Dairy Council. An “element” of the funds would be targeted towards projects with the Dairy Council on human health and nutritional research and development.
Additionally, some of the funding would go towards existing public-facing work to promote the benefits of dairy, including via the website www.thisidairyfarming.com.
This provisional budget of £3.5m represents an extra £1.8m in total over the three years compared with the draft market development budget, which went out for consultation.
AHDB Dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones said: “This gives us a clear chance to develop market opportunities for the dairy industry. It must, however, be recognised it’s not the whole answer for the prevailing challenging market conditions the industry is facing.”
Promoting dairy to younger generation
Dairy UK, a trade association that represents the interests of producer co-ops, milk processors, dairy farmers and doorstep deliverymen, said it was vital the dairy industry educated UK consumers on the nutritional benefits of dairy and promoted the excellence of its dairy products in key exports markets.
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said: “This is very positive news. Working together we have a unique opportunity to develop long-term, sustainable consumption in the domestic market as well as in international markets.
“The next steps will be making sure we develop the right offering to leverage EU funding. This is not a short-term fix, this is about a sustained focus on developing demand for dairy with current and future generations.”
Reacting to the funding decision, NFU deputy president Minette Batters said promoting dairy would be key to secure the future of the industry.
She added: “AHDB have not been working on trade development and the promotional side of dairy. It is not just about drinking more milk, it’s about building image [of dairy].
“It is so important to maintain and build image – that’s the key point. Then you can talk about the nutritional benefits.
“For the dairy industry, it is probably more important than any other sector. We must maintain our brand image.
“If we lose it to the processors, it will be about own-brand and that does not help all dairy farmers who invest in the levy board.”
AHDB Dairy is funded entirely by UK milk producers, via a statutory levy on all milk sold off-farm, at the rate of 0.06p/litre. This provides an annual income of about £7m.