Brexit the most ‘defining issue’ facing the dairy sector

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy UK is calling Brexit the most ‘defining issue’ the industry has faced for generations
Dairy UK is calling Brexit the most ‘defining issue’ the industry has faced for generations
Dairy UK, the trade association, has published a white paper calling Brexit the most “defining issue” the industry has faced for generations.

The report has called for Brexit to safeguard the future interests of an industry that employs more than 70,000 people and has an overall turnover of nearly £28bn.

It has said that continued trading agreements with the EU without tariff and non-tariff barriers would mean “massive export and growth opportunities”.​ 

However, it also said that failure to achieve that would damage exports and reduce the demand for dairy with the “worst outcome”​ being a return to World Trade Organization rules.

‘Major impact’ on margins

Dairy UK also raised concern that a failure to maintain access to skilled and unskilled labour would drive up operating costs, which would have a “major impact”​ on margins.

The Northern Ireland border issue was also one that must be resolved, it said. It called for a “frictionless and seamless border”​ regime that could be a blueprint for future arrangements with the EU.

However, the paper also saw some positives for the market, claiming the demand for dairy was growing globally with milk prices on an upward trend.

It also said it was urging the government to work collaboratively with the industry to help exploit export opportunities around the world.  

Help exploit export opportunities 

And it has also urged the government to review the Eatwell Plate Guide to take account of the benefits of dairy. This comes after Public Health England reduced the amount of dairy on the Eatwell Plate in 2016 from 15% to 8%.

The white paperdemonstrates that consumer love for dairy remains very strong, and we have to ensure that we are equipped and ready to continue to help feed the nation for generations to come,” ​said Paul Vernon, chairman of Dairy UK.

“Brexit is a monumental challenge and a game changer. If Brexit is successfully delivered there is tremendous potential in terms of exports and product development. If it is a failure, there will be far reaching consequences for dairy.​”

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