ARSEN DIDUR, Executive Director of Dairy Union of Ukraine: Ukrainian dairy industry should become a full-fledged part of the European dairy market

Dairy Policy Conference, organized be European Dairy Association, was held on 8 Match in Brussels. The Union of Dairy Enterprises of Ukraine was represented by Arsen Didur, Executive director of the Union, and Valentyn Zaporoshchuk, the Union Board member.

What are your impressions on general atmosphere of the event? Why did you decide to participate?

I can say that the atmosphere was very friendly. Special attention was paid to our delegation. In his introductory speech Giuseppe Ambrosi, president of EDA, emphasized that EDA stands with Ukraine and welcomes the presence of the representatives of Ukrainian dairy industry at the event.

Although the issue discussed at the conference – implementation of the “Farm to Fork Strategy” – is currently quite far from the problems that Ukrainian dairy farmers have to solve, the Union of Dairy Enterprises sent delegates to this event. We believe that positions of Ukrainian and European dairy should be converging. To make it happen we need to better understand what our European colleagues are worrying about now and how we can be useful to each other.

What topics were discussed?

10 speakers presented their vision (sometimes quite opposite) regarding some aspects of implementation of the “Farm to Fork Strategy”

Three years ago, the Green Deal was announced in the EU, a set of political initiatives put forward by the European Commission with the general goal of making the European continent climate neutral by 2050.

The participants of the conference had to assess whether the food industry is successfully moving forward to succeed in sustainable food production. It was emphasized that progress in this direction can be achieved only in cooperation with farmers. The development of strategies cannot be the work of industry development ideologists only. Comparisons were made between similar strategies in the US and EU. In particular, it was mentioned that in order to achieve the goals of sustainable food production in the US, incentives are used. In EU fines are applied.

The Nutri-Score labeling system was also mentioned (a simplified labeling system where the nutritional value of the product is marked with colors. Some consider it perfectly informative, while others consider it too simplistic, misleading the consumer. In addition, according to some delegates, such labeling is quite roughly separates products that are “healthy” and “unhealthy.” There was also an opinion expressed that Nutri-Score labeling does not affect the consumer’s choice of product at all, the results of the relevant study were cited.

Were there any representatives of the real dairy sector, those engaged in the production of food products, present at the conference?

Yes, there was a farmer from Northern Ireland who talked about how he reduced CO2 emissions on his farm by using advances in science. There was a farmer from Germany, a supplier of raw milk to DMK, the processing enterprise of Germany’s largest dairy cooperative. He explained what the DMK company is doing to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as stipulated by the “Green Deal” strategy.

What conclusions did you draw after attending this conference?

Of course, knowing the current state of our dairy industry, we cannot say that special labeling, CO2 emissions, or environmental protection are important issues for us now. Our “environment” now has a problem of demining, dairy industry needs to restore the livestock destroyed by the invaders and dairy processors are thinking about how to keep the business profitable while producing dairy products that are affordable for the impoverished consumer.

At the same time, considering Ukraine’s approach to the EU membership, we should already think about how we can interact with our European colleagues. So, we must know and understand the rules EU market works. We need to know how our colleagues see the future of the European (and therefore also Ukrainian) dairy industry, and how we should prepare ourselves for closer cooperation, which, I hope, will benefit dairy industries of both Ukraine and the EU.

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