More than 70 of the world’s leaders of the dairy industry met for the first time as part of the first annual meeting of Global Dairy Platform (GDP), a new organization promoting the interests of milk and dairy worldwide, where they decided to take action on four key priority areas in the coming year.

The annual meeting held recently in Dublin, Ireland, brought together senior leaders from such member organizations as Nestlé, Danone, Kraft Foods, Campina, Arla Foods and Fonterra, as well as the Dairy Farmers of America, U.K. Dairy Council, Dairy Management Inc., Swedish Dairy Association, Dairy Australia, International Dairy Federation and The Gardner Foundation, among others.

“It is clear from the high attendance at the annual meeting that GDP has established a vital international platform”, explained Kevin Bellamy, GDP executive director. “What we are now doing is starting to use the strong worldwide network we have created to deliver decisive benefits to our members. This is the first time that such a worldwide advocacy group has existed involving the key dairy players from around the globe”.

At the meeting, the group discussed focusing GDP’s efforts and resources on four areas:

  • Increasing the integrity and trust in milk and dairy among the world’s consumers. In particular, GDP members intend to work on repositioning milkfat by differentiating milkfat from saturated fats through scientific studies; creating a worldwide database of consumer research from which members may benchmark against the international marketplace; and protecting dairy terms against products that contain no milk but serve as substitutes for dairy in consumers’ minds.
  • Linking milk and dairy to weight loss and weight management in consumers’ minds, based on scientific studies that will be coordinated by GDP.
  • Making milk essential at all stages of life, with emphasis on school milk initiatives, including the possible export of the U.S.-based Action for Healthy Kids, as well as support of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s School Milk Knowledge Centre and the World Food Programme of the United Nations. In addition, GDP will seek to establish evidence linking dairy products to reducing hypertension.
  • Ensuring that regulation does not create unwarranted barriers to milk consumption. In particular, GDP is working to expand upon research that estimated the potential healthcare savings associated with dairy food intake by consumers.

As next steps, GDP is securing the input of its members to prioritize activities within the four areas, which will form the basis for a strategic plan to be published early in 2008.

Global Dairy Platform