Dairy UK and the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have partnered with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Northern Ireland Executive and Scottish and Welsh governments on the 12-week campaign.
The new campaign follows a temporary relaxation of competition rules by the Government to allow the dairy industry to work together in the wake of the continued coronavirus pandemic.
Funded through a combination of £500,000 from UK Government, £300,000 from Dairy UK and £200,000 from the AHDB, the campaign will focus on tea, coffee and milky drink occasions – areas with the largest volume opportunity.
Dairy UK chief executive Judith Bryans said working with AHDB and the UK Government on this scheme would help highlight the central role that dairy played as part of our everyday lives.
Supporting the industry by connecting consumers
“We want to remind people of the importance of taking a moment to connect with each other while enjoying the foods they love, even if it is remotely,” she added. “We can still take a moment for ourselves and others in these most challenging of times, and we can still enjoy nutritious dairy.”
The dairy industry was dealt a significant blow during the COVID-19 crisis, after the almost complete closure of foodservice and hospitality outlets, resulting in the loss of a market amounting to around 8m litres of milk every week.
Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we want to support them however we can at this challenging time.
“We know the closure of restaurants and food outlets has meant many producers have excess milk that might otherwise go to waste. That’s why we are backing this campaign to drive milk consumption and boost sales.
National Farmers Union (NFU) president Minette Batters commended the Government for stepping in to prevent catastrophe in the dairy sector.
Preventing an ‘uncertain future’
“This package of support from DEFRA will help many iconic dairy farming businesses facing an uncertain future as a result of the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak,” she said.
“We know the dairy sector is just one of many that have been affected by the coronavirus, but we appreciate the hard work DEFRA has put in to secure this much-needed financial support for many dairy farming families who face losing their businesses.”
However, NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes warned that, while the support would be helpful, a combination of measures would be needed to stabilise the industry’s viability in the medium and long-term.
“Dairy farmers need much better contractual protection than they currently enjoy and that needs to be examined by Government as a matter of urgency once we move to the recovery phase of the current crisis,” he added.
“We are also concerned that the fund covers England only, but will work with the devolved administrations to ensure that support reaches all farmers affected.”