GERMANY, Frankfurt. The EU consumer likes it sustainable and reduces the consumption of dairy and meat products, at least the younger generation. This also offers opportunities for the industry.
The EU dairy sector must make an effort to position itself for the future. That is, in a nutshell, the message behind a report by the sustainability think tank, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). The paper was commissioned by the Danish dairy cooperative Arla Foods. Over a period of six months, the IEEP interviewed farmers, machinery manufacturers, trade unions, environmental and animal welfare organisations and consumers for the report.
A central statement of the report: The dairy industry must make its production CO2-neutral and at the same time raise standards for animal welfare and production transparency. The new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the reform of which is currently being negotiated, must encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable production methods through "positive incentives". In addition, a level playing field throughout the EU should be created for animal welfare standards, food labelling and clear definitions of sustainable food - to ensure consumer acceptance.
However, the topic of consumer acceptance is particularly challenging. According to a Eurobarometer survey, 94% of the European consumers surveyed consider high animal welfare standards to be important. The IEEP sees this as an indication of a growing market segment for products with high sustainability standards. The think tank also notes "growing concern" that the consumption of meat and milk in Europe exceeds what is considered recommendable by health experts.
The report also notes a "growing trend towards reducing the consumption of animal proteins", especially among the younger generations in Europe. The IEEP also sees this as an opportunity, as it would open up new market segments. More information about the role of dairy products in sustainable and healthy diets would provide security for both the dairy industry itself and investors, the report continues. At the same time, the think tank points out that there is a growing market for animal proteins outside Europe: In developing and emerging markets.