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World Dairy Summit Highlights Role of Science and Technology


International Dairy Foods Association

The International Dairy Federation's World Dairy Summit held last week in Parma, Italy, focused on initiatives currently being undertaken by the global dairy industry, as well as economic and policy issues, key nutritional trends and scientific advances. The summit, which included a trade show and IDF standing committee meetings, drew 1,400 attendees representing 77 countries from around the world. 

Held October 15-19, the "Summilk" summit brought researchers together to discuss more than 100 topics of relevance to dairy farmers, processors, marketers and consumers. This year's theme focused on "sustainable food security" and the role of science and technology

"Each year key IDFA staff members attend the summit to hear from and share information with our global colleagues on the challenges and opportunities that we face in the global dairy supply chain," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO, who attended the summit. "We also glean helpful information about the latest dairy research, nutrition, marketing and communications initiatives around the world."

Dairy Policies and Economics

Bob Yonkers, IDFA vice president and chief economist, was elected to the 13-member Science and Program Coordinating Committee (SPCC), which coordinates the nine IDF priority working areas. He will represent the Standing Committees on Dairy Policies and Economics and Marketing on the SPCC. Visit IDF Working Areas and select each of the nine areas to see individual committee priorities and objectives. 

Yonkers had served as chair of the IDF Standing Committee on Dairy Policies and Economics for the past three years but had to give up that seat to serve on the SPCC. At this year’s summit, the Standing Committee on Dairy Policies and Economics reviewed a draft paper on milk price volatility around the world and discussed topics to be included in next year’s IDF World Dairy Situation report.

Food Labeling

Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, is vice chair of the U.S. IDF delegation and this year served as the U.S. delegate to the IDF general assembly. She also is vice chair of the IDF Standing Committee on Food Labeling and attended the meeting during the conference. This committee focused on preparing positions for the Codex committees on food labeling and nutrition that are undertaking revisions to international standards that would adopt new nutrient reference values and determine when nutrition information is mandatory on food labels.

In addition, Frye presented in a roundtable discussion with colleagues from Japan, India and Europe to provide the U.S. perspective on how science relates to health claims regulation. Frye discussed the different approaches used for health claims ("may reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol"), structure function claims ("helps to maintain cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range") and drug claims ("lowers LDL cholesterol"). She reviewed the research needed to support each type of claim and emphasized the importance of communicating clearly with consumers.

Additives and Contaminants, Microbiological Hygiene

Jonathan Gardner, IDFA vice president of regulatory and international affairs, followed the activities of several committees, including the Standing Committee on Analytical Methods for Additives and Contaminants, and attended the meeting of the Standing Committee on Microbiological Hygiene. This committee considered protocols for measuring heat resistance in bacteria, the design of microbiological control systems in dairy production and the reporting of emerging hazards associated with milk and milk products. Members also reviewed a revision of the Codex Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods.

"Our participation and leadership in the standing committees helps IDFA members to access dairy markets around the world," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, who also attended the summit. "These committees have an important role in facilitating and expanding global trade for dairy products."

MilkPEP and Innovation Awards

The 2011 IDF Dairy Innovation Awards also were presented at the summit last week. This year’s awards attracted more than 100 entries from 25 countries, and the 14 categories ranged from products to packaging and marketing to sustainability.

The Milk Processor Education Program received two awards. The MilkPEP "Pour One More" campaign was a finalist in the best health education or nutri-marketing initiative category, and the "Power of Nine" campaign won the Special Lifetime Achievement Award for the best generic dairy marketing campaign.

The complete list of award winners is available here.

MilkPEP participated in the summit program as well. MilkPEP CEO Vivien Godfrey spoke on "Using Altered Reality and Other Online Games to Engage Dairy Consumers," and Julia Kadison, MilkPEP vice president of marketing, gave a presentation on "Milk's Nine-Nutrient Advantage: Motivating U.S. Consumer Behavior."