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Top Takeaways from the International Dairy Foods Association Forum

Top Takeaways from the International Dairy Foods Association Forum

The world is changing – fast. In recent years, the food and beverage industry has been in the spotlight, some would say more than ever. Consumers are demanding to know more about their food, and the agriculture industry is expected to feed the rapidly growing population. This demand for growth in the food and beverage industry has created a landscape that is experiencing rapidly changing trends, changing tastes and changing technologies. Leading experts and industry leaders gathered in Orlando, Florida for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Dairy Forum and shared their insights and perspectives on a wide variety of challenges and opportunities facing the industry today. Following the forum, Greg Janzow, director of food safety for Gray, provided the top takeaways from the event and offered his insight into what the dairy industry looks like in 2019 and how that affects the overall health of the food and beverage industry.

IDFA Chairman Dr. Michael Dykes offered interesting insight into his vision for growth for the dairy industry. In order for the dairy market to experience upward mobility, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Federal Milk Marketing Orders system must have flexibility and generate the market signals to encourage investment and risk-taking throughout the entire supply chain. Dairy producers make a high-quality product, and it is imperative the industry finds new, innovative ways to maximize the returns in both the domestic and international markets. Everyone loves to win, but the mentality must change to create a culture that further values working together in order to increase speed in decision-making, taking action and leading bold change.

  1. Food Safety

Dr. Steven Ostroff, recently retired Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), posed the question, “Is the problem with outbreaks getting worse?” Briefly looking at a chart that shows the number of incidents over time, the quick answer would be “Yes.” However, in recent years, technology has advanced sweeping improvements in whole genome sequencing that has transformed identification and tracking to an extremely fast and accurate process.  Coupled with similar progress in electronic health records and lab data the certainty of the causes of outbreaks is at an all-time high, therefor it is likely outbreaks are indeed on the decrease.  Food traceability issues are at the forefront of the conversation. The ideal traceability system has not been developed, but when it is it will include the “3 R’s:” rapid, reliable and reproducible; it will extend across the entire supply chain, and it will be affordable. The conversation around food traceability brings to light the “high risk” foods, which have been identified and are receiving the appropriate attention. The biggest challenge in the risk regard: Who wants their food product to be labeled as “high risk?”

  1. Direction of Dairy Markets for 2019

It’s no secret. The fluid segment of the dairy industry continues to decline.  Due to weather, margins and a variety of other factors, the global milk supply has slowed. In the short term, industry experts predict a price recovery, but they also foresee a possible recession in Q3 of 2019, according to Mary Ledman, Global Dairy Strategist at Rabobank and Dr. Marin Bozic, Associate Director for the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center. In years to come, there’s no doubt, innovations and scientific advancements will pave the road to success. There are vast opportunities for macronutrient fat and continued focus on protein isolates.  The inability at this point to replicate dairy products due to their complexity allow for a sense of optimism.

From an industry perspective, dairy accomplished a lot in 2018. It must be understood in 2019 that Consumers are in charge – protein and protein isolates remain in high demand.  The attributes unique to milk allow the dairy industry to actively participate and grow in the food and beverage markets. “As we think about our positioning for dairy’s path forward, three things are critically important: sustainability, innovation and trade,” stated Dykes.