When managing the milk and dairy supply in today’s lockdown conditions basically all over Europe, the dairy industry does mobilize all forces to live up to our most important role: providing healthy and affordable nutrition to the citizens in our Union and beyond.
Today on 25th March 2020, the original planned date of publication of the European Commission’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, we highlight once more – and do so with pride – our important role in healthy diets for individuals as well as for food security for Europe and globally in ‘normal’ times as much as in crisis times.
The importance of open supply lines within the Union and across the borders is underlined in today’s crisis. Any calls for gastro-chauvinisme in today’s pan-European and global crisis are completely inadequate and irresponsible. The respect of the Single Market principles by all Member States is key for our (food) supply chains. Any barrier (like origin label schemes) of the movement of essential goods, like milk and dairy, must be much more seriously rejected in the post-crisis time by the European Commission. This said, voluntary information of provenience can add further value where this is rewarded by the consumer.
Milk and dairy shelves were among the first affected by current shopping tendencies – and rightly so, as milk and dairy is a most relevant part of all dietary recommendations across Europe and within a healthy and balanced diet. It provides a broad and unique range of essential micro- and macronutrients at affordable price, plus a wide choice for different tastes and needs. Any serious nutritional labelling scheme will have to acknowledge that milk and dairy is healthy by nature. And it will need to make sure that all products relevant to dietary recommendations – and that explicitly includes cheese – are a healthy part of a balanced diet by definition.
Science clearly shows that reducing dairy in diets will not have further impact on environmental footprint, especially on CO2 emissions, but raise the cost of a balanced diet much further1. In our Union, we - as all agri-food products - work on highest levels of safety, environmental, and social standards, and we support the idea that these European standards are further highlighted by policy makers, to further strengthen the high reputation of our EU produce.
Food information needs to be science and fact based. Any oversimplified information scheme would not reflect the complexity of food systems. Environmental information on foodstuff is already part of EU Commission’s new Circular Economy package. Alignment of both strategies in that area is an absolute necessity for creating a momentum of real change of our food systems. This need for alignment is, of course, also important for all other agri-food relevant initiatives within the Green Deal, like the biodiversity strategy.
We are grateful for the initiative of MEP Norbert Lins and his colleagues from the EP AGRI Committee to allow more time of the finalization of the Farm-to-Form strategy due to the current circumstances. This strategy will shape the future of the EU agri-food landscape and must be based on a broad consultation and science-based reflection within the European institutions and with the stakeholders. Only a broad cooperation and alignment will ensure the best possible outcome and get us to our common goal: moving our food systems towards increased sustainability – economic, social/ nutritional and environmental.
The European dairy sector is ready. Our EDA paper ‘The Dairy Sector and the Green Deal’ published ahead of the European Commission’s Green deal in December 2019 shows, we know, that the journey of the European Green Deal will absorb a lot of our energy in the years to come. The Green Deal transformation of Europe will demand a huge effort from agriculture and dairy. We want to focus on this challenge. And we are happy to do this with our members and stakeholders in Brussels.
1 Kramer, G., Tyszler, M., Veer, P., & Blonk, H. (2017). Decreasing the overall environmental impact of the Dutch diet: How to find healthy and sustainable diets with limited changes. Public Health Nutrition, 20(9), 1699-1709. doi:10.1017/S1368980017000349Source: EDAAuthor: Sossna