World Dairy Leaders' Forum: Friesland Campina

During the World Dairy Leaders’ Forum at the World Dairy Summit in Cape Town in November 2012, The CEO of Friesland Campina, Cees t´Hart, spoke about the challenges the dairy industry is facing: the climate change, with the negative effects of the global warming on agro food production and feed prices; the population growth and the rapidly increasing demand for food. He questioned whether the dairy industry is sufficiently protecting its business and earning models against future constraints, in the light of all these pressing global challenges.

The Friesland Campina CEO said that already by 2030 global demand for food and energy will go up by 50%, water demand by 30%, and that this is what investing in sustainability is all about, to ensure that the dairy industry will be able to adapt its business model to the new realities and constraints that are coming.

Another point he made about the future of dairy was the new farmers, the younger generation. The average age of farmers around the world is well over 50 years, and his question was who will farm our food tomorrow in this more and more urbanized world if the industry fails to offer the right future prospective to young farmers today?

He also mentioned the large amount of small dairy farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the importance of helping them in becoming successful entrepreneurs that will help to supply the foods to a fast growing world population.

“We need to support transfer of knowledge to small scale farmers in emerging markets,” he said.

Cees t'Hart also stressed the importance of communicating, as an industry, the importance of what has been achieved and the opportunities that lie ahead.

“The dairy industry provides nutritious food for around 6 billion people today, and up to 9 million people by 2050, in a world struggling with scarce resources. We do not serve empty calories, we serve food full with healthy nutrients, and food and health authorities make dairy part of a daily healthy diet,” he said, also mentioning the FAO School Milk Day, which shows that the FAO has strong reasons to promote milk in schools.

The dairy industry’s commitment is to produce milk with a smaller environmental footprint from year to year, he said, and people should not forget that the dairy sector has made tremendous steps forward in efficiency, productivity and feed conversion. Compared to 50 years ago land use, water use and feed input to produce one kg of milk has been reduced 65-90%. GHG and manure production has been reduced per kg of milk by 55-75%. All this due to higher productivity.

“Let’s make sure we put these things in the right perspective, and show achieved results over years in a proactive and self confident way”, t’Hart said.

He also spoke of the concept of shared value, developed by M Porter and M Kramer, where companies that want to secure their continuity gets public approval, and their growth ambitions should have a clear idea of how to combine the generation of business value with society value.

“This will become the key for future success; especially cooperatives with their specific governance structure are well fit to get real content to the creating shared value concept”, said Cees t’Hart.

He concluded by saying that food is hot, that creating nutrient security for a fast growing world population with scarce natural resources, will be a major challenge. In his opinion dairy is cool, it provides solutions for the global challenges we are facing, by producing nutrients for billions of consumers.


Monica Wadsworth

Monica Wadsworth
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IDF World Dairy Summit in Cape Town 2012

(click on image above to go to the World Dairy Summit 2012 web site)