THE IRISH dairy industry has the potential to create up to 15,000 extra jobs following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, attendees at the National Dairy Council’s annual conference heard yesterday.
Pointing out that the dairy sector buys 85 per cent of its inputs directly from the Irish economy, food economist Ciaran Fitzgerald said the expected €1.3 billion increase in milk output after 2015 will have a “hugely positive multiplier impact across the economy”.
“For the first time in more than 30 years, production will no longer be fixed,” he said.
“This will have major job implications up and down the supply chain in terms of increased demand for inputs such as fertiliser and feed, more processing and contracting activity, and increased activity in areas such as RD and marketing.”
Addressing delegates, NDC chairman Jackie Cahill called for cheese to be exempted from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s proposal to ban advertising of certain products during children’s television programmes.
“If the BAI proposal goes ahead . . . most cheese would be subject to advertising restrictions,” he said.
“Significantly, it would mean that cheese would be officially recognised as ‘less healthy’ while the same model indicates diet cola as being healthier.”
Public observations on the draft children’s and general commercial communications codes must be submitted by May 31st.
Jens Bleiel, head of food at Health Ireland and a former senior executive in the baby food industry, said one barrier to growth for the Irish dairy industry was negative perceptions about the nutritional value of milk products, particularly misinformed perceptions about fat content and dairy’s link to food intolerance.
He said there is an “increasing gap between consumer perception and scientific reality”.
However, increasing global demand for “natural” products, and an expanding consumer market in developing countries, offer the dairy sector huge growth opportunity, he said.