As cost increased at rates never seen before, Amirahmadi – who was named Business Leader of the Year at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2022 – warned that farmers could no longer cover their expenses.
The string of recent crises has meant feed, fuel and fertiliser costs had rocketed and cashflow on the farm was negative. Farmers were producing less milk as a result, he told the BBC.
"UK dairy farmers have been producing more for about the last seven to eight years but it's now going the other way,” said Amirahmadi. “In February, they produced 2% less and in March it's 4%.”
Pushing for higher prices
He warned that farmers would face some hard decisions and would need confidence to carry on producing. To support this, Arla would push for a higher price from its customers, the supermarkets.
“The most important thing now is that we put our arm around the farmers…and pay our farmers more to cover their costs to make sure the milk is flowing,” Amirahmadi added.
Concerns for the future of milk production in the UK followed a recent push by the Arla managing director to put farmers at the heart of any plans to address sustainability and climate change.
Forefront of sustainability
Speaking at the City Food Lecture, Amirahmadi argued farmers were at the forefront of the journey to sustainably feed the world's growing population, and that they were disproportionately affected by climate change.
“Where is the front line of sustainability? Who is at the front line? Farmers and the on-farm agenda. Farmers are the stakeholders who can make the biggest impact,” he added.
Supporting farmers to become more sustainable was a top priority. Some of that support could come through technology to deliver accurate, measurable data that could then drive change.
Meanwhile, Arla Foods Ingredients’ Peptigen IF-3080 has been given the green light by the EU for being safe to use in infant formula.