Over 70% of Consumers Willing to Pay More for Dairy Products

Over 70% of Consumers Willing to Pay More for Dairy Products

Over 70% of consumers are willing pay more for dairy products but only if the price increase is used to support farmers make environmental progress so the industry is more sustainable, a new survey has found.

The European Milk Forum (EMF) spoke to 1,500 Irish adults during April to get their views on the sector in terms of sustainability, health and climate change.

It is part of a three-year EU-funded campaign with research by the non-profit organisation also carried out in Northern Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and France.

Among the notable results of the Irish survey released today (Thursday, May 12) were:

  • 84% of consumers said that dairy should continue to be produced in Ireland with extra supports for famers to implement further sustainability initiatives;
  • 72% are willing to pay more for dairy products, provided they see the evidence that the increase is going to embedding the latest environmental initiatives in production;
  • 69% think that dairy farming is vital to rural communities and regional economies – 10% disagreed;
  • 67% believe that the sector is committed to producing dairy more sustainably.

Nearly half of the consumers think that the industry contributes to the preservation of the landscape.

However, almost a quarter called for improvements in water quality, followed by support for biodiversity (20%) and increasing the usage of alternatives to chemical fertilisers (19%).

GDT grazing season dairy NDC

Zoe Kavanagh, spokesperson for the EMF in Ireland and CEO of the National Dairy Council (NDC), told Agriland that she was “really encouraged” by the findings.

“When we looked at this research two years ago, we had a consumer that was very unaware of what the dairy sector was doing to become more sustainable.”

Kavanagh said that the consumer had gone “on a really interesting journey” over the past two years due to the Covid-19 global pandemic and the war in Ukraine which has increased awareness around food production, supply chains and nutrition.

Although Ireland is the most efficient producer of dairy in Europe from an emissions perspective, she said that the dairy industry needs to balance production with environmental impact.

“What I’m so impressed by are the dairy farmers around the country who have accepted the need for ensuring more sustainable practices and the need to ensure their overall environmental footprint improves.

“I was always saying if we’re going to have a dialogue with the consumer around Irish dairy and where it’s going, we need to be very credible and very authentic and back up our statements with proof points.

“There’s an awful lot of things being measured on Irish dairy farms today that were never measured before. They’re the things that will indicate whether we’re making progress or not,” she continued.

“NDC is really focused on ensuring farmers’ social license to produce dairy off a grass-based system is respected. We should not have a situation where a dairy farm is being compared to a data centre.

“We need to have a very authentic, open, transparent dialogue as to how this sector is progressing with the challenges that have been set down for it and reassure communities that dairy farming within their community should be viewed as a real positive,” Kavanagh concluded.

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