TALKING AT the Semex conference in Glasgow on Monday 13 January 2014, First Milk chief executive Kate Allum highlighted the importance for the whole industry of promoting dairy nutrition.
"We need to get on the front foot, and actively promote the nutritional benefits of dairy and recognise that we all have a stake in this battle for consumers' attention and therefore, we all have a role to play.
"As an industry, we don't tell the wonder food story well enough, we don't tell it clearly enough.
"For a category with fantastic nutritional attributes, dairy has spent most of the last couple of decades on the defensive.
"It is self-evident that without a robust platform highlighting the benefits of dairy, we will always remain open to attack from other categories, and even from campaigns run by our own Government.
Allum gave an example how this dairy nutrition focus was operating in First Milk.
"All new foods that we develop, must pass through a gateway - Good and Good for you, or we do not progress with them.
"Good is about naturally tasty and high quality food that meet consumer preferences.
"Good for you is about natural food, with positive nutritional dairy benefits."
As part of this drive, First Milk launched Lake District Dairy Co. Quark, a soft cheese that is naturally fat free, high in protein and low in salt and sugars in May. Two new fresh milk-based drinks, Frumoo and Caffe Latte, were also introduced under the Lake District Dairy Co brand late last year. Further launches are planned for 2014.
She concluded by citing her confidence that the dairy has a bright future if we can grasp the opportunities in front of us.
"I am very conscious that the challenges we face as a dairy industry are tough. However, if we break them down, the answers lie within our reach.
"They exist in our food development kitchens; on our farms, and in our factories. The answers exist in the inspiration we get from farmers who combine knowledge, curiosity, and ingenuity, to find a solution.
"We need strong brands. We need partnerships. But perhaps most importantly, we ALL need to promote the nutritional benefits of dairy.
"As population growth continues, with it will come a growing demand for more protein and more nutritious calorie dense food.
"We are better placed than every other category to meet this demand. We have nature's perfect food in our locker, a product that our competitors in other food and drink categories can only dream about.
"Let's grasp this opportunity and take responsibility for delivering the kind of future we want."