Dairy foods tick all the right boxes for consumers across the globe, said Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, this week.
Speaking at the European Dairy Association (EDA) Policy Conference in Brussels, Dr Bryans showed how milk and dairy products are an inherent part of a sustainable diet.
She said: "The dairy food group has outstanding sustainability credentials and we should not be afraid to showcase them. From nutrient-richness to environmental impact, from health benefits to affordability, dairy products tick every single box and few other food groups can say the same so confidently.
"On paper, our goals as an industry are quite simple. We want well-nourished and healthy people along with safe, nutritious and affordable products, and a healthy planet. Dairy products have an invaluable role to play to reach these goals, not just in the UK or in the EU but across the globe.
"We know that any type of food production comes at a cost, but dairy farmers and processors have taken huge strides in mitigating their environmental impact and looking after the planet's resources. Dairy UK set out clear environmental targets in the Dairy Roadmap, working closely with farming organisations and other industry stakeholders in the UK. We have ambitious targets and we have the drive to meet and even surpass them.
"It is becoming more and more obvious that guidelines and calls to reduce dairy consumption fail to grasp the complexities of the dairy food group, the impact of dairy substitutions and bioavailability. True, other foodstuffs contain calcium. Yet, it might be quite a challenge to incorporate over a kilo of spinach in your daily diet to get your calcium intake when a glass of milk will do the trick. Not only is dairy substitution a nutritional challenge but it also has a significant environmental impact.
"We have versatile and tasty products which have been shown to improve diet quality while respecting our natural resources. Given these credentials, it is clear that the dairy industry and dairy foods are part of the solution to feed current and future generations."
Data from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that, to get the same amount of calcium contained in a single serving of milk, an adult would need to consume 16 servings of spinach or 4.5 serving of broccoli.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report on 'Milk and Milk Products in Human Health', "billions of people around the world consume milk and dairy products every day. Not only are milk and dairy products a vital source of nutrition for these people, they also present livelihood opportunities for farmers, processors, shopkeepers and other stakeholders in the value chain."