Speaking at Dairy UK’s June 15 dinner in London, which traditionally takes place every year but has skipped two years due to the pandemic, Amirahmadi, who is also chairman of the trade group, said: “It was heartening to see in the food strategy white paper published by DEFRA [Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs] On Monday [13 June] that the government recognize the critical importance of the food industry to food security and international trade in this country.
“Reading the white paper, I was encouraged to see the ambition to have a resilient and thriving agri-food sector, producing healthy and sustainable food.
“As the white paper moves forward, we would like to hear more about how UK dairy can be developed in terms of serving the domestic market and also exporting overseas.”
Exports and food standards
Amirahmadi, who is also chairman of the IGD board, said support for international trade for British industry should include help to remove export barriers and continued protection of domestic food standards. “The UK dairy sector sends products around the world and as I mentioned we have growing export aspirations but we need our policy makers to work with the industry to understand the barriers to export, especially those related to administration.
“And of course we need fair trade deals that deliver as much benefit to UK farmers and businesses as it does to those who want to enter the UK market. We cannot afford to undermine the high standards demanded by British consumers or domestic industry.”
He praised the dairy industry’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact, following the launch of the Dairy Roadmap in 2008. He underlined the sector’s high ambition to limit global warming to below 1.5.ohC by aiming for net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, a sustained reduction in methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and the elimination of fluorinated greenhouse gases where possible.
“We fully accept that the path to net zero will not be an easy trajectory, but technology, innovation, transparency and best practices will get us there.
“This week, we’re showcasing some of our roadmap accomplishments to consumers with a new social campaign called What We’re Made Of. Our ads will highlight what the dairy community is doing to improve biodiversity, be more energy efficient and switch to renewable energy and reduce plastic and increase recyclability.”
Addressing MPs over dinner, Amirahmadi called for all the nutrients in dairy products to be taken into account, not just their fat, salt or sugar content. He acknowledged the progress the industry has made in reformulation, but cautioned: “I would also like to remind you that dairy products are not ready-made meals with recipes that can be changed and modified endlessly. Reformulation for dairy products has limits.
“Not enough salt and you don’t get blue veins in your stilton. Beyond blue veins, too little salt in cheese is a problem for food safety, quality and taste. We produce food traditional basics and we will certainly always go the extra mile to reach a goal, but not if it takes us into dangerous territory.”
Amirahmadi was the keynote speaker at the February 17 City Food Lecture, where he said farmers should be central to any sustainability and climate change plan. He won Food manufacturingof Business Leader of the Yearto this year Food manufacturingExcellence Award.