- 89% of consumers have confidence in Irish dairy farmers to make the necessary changes to achieve climate action targets
- 76% regard the industry as hugely important to Ireland
- 76% believe that the industry should be supported to remain viable for future generations
- 75% feel informed about the role of dairy farmers as food producers
New research from the European Milk Forum (EMF) is showing that almost 9 in every 10 consumers believe dairy farmers can make the necessary changes to achieve climate action targets while 7 in every 10 (76%) believe that the industry should be supported to remain viable for future generations.
Up to 75% believe that they are sufficiently informed about the work of dairy farmers and appreciate their role as food producers as part of a sustainable food system. A similar number (76%) also believe that the industry is critically important – economically, socially and culturally while 2 in every 3 (66%) believe dairy farmers can help consumers adopt a more sustainable approach.
The findings are from a survey of 1,500 Irish adults by the European Milk Forum as part of their “Dairy in a Healthy and Sustainable European Food System” campaign.
While the findings show that consumers believe dairy farmers are rising to the challenge, the survey also shows that consumers fear rising input costs risk farmers’ sustainability strides (48%) with 44% concerned about dairy farmers balancing environmental demands and remaining economically viable.
Sustainability is very much front of mind for survey respondents, with 69% recycling food and packaging and 73% stating they waste as little food as possible.
Zoe Kavanagh, Spokesperson for the European Milk Forum in Ireland and Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council, said the research shows that Irish consumers continue to support dairy farmers, and equally appreciate their important role in a sustainable food system.
“Combatting the climate crisis requires a society-wide response. Our findings demonstrate that consumers have confidence in Ireland’s 17,500 family-run dairy farms to implement the necessary sustainability initiatives and to continue to respond proactively to the challenge of climate change.
“While concerns have been expressed about the need to implement technological innovations and achieve quick results, the findings also demonstrate that overall, Irish consumers have confidence in dairy farmers to make a real difference and are aware of the work underway so far.
“We know that Irish farmers are determined to play their part and are stepping up to the plate with environmental initiatives implemented on dairy farms across Ireland, further enhancing the sustainability of our pasture-based production system. We do need to acknowledge the balancing act between remaining economically viable and ensuring our family-run dairy farms are supported to further enhance their milk production process. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that dairy farming supports 60,000 jobs and contributes €5 billion to the Irish economy.
“Dairy farmers can take heart from the finding that a strong majority of consumers believe that dairy is vital to rural communities and regional economies. Year-on-year, research increasingly reflects this with figures increasing from 69% in 2022 to now 76% in 2023. Further to this, we know consumers place a significant value on dairy, with 54% believing it is part of a healthy diet and over 90% including milk, cheese and yogurt in their diet on a weekly basis. Taste, health and nutritional value were identified as key considerations for consumers.
“Irish dairy has a great story to tell, with a great history on this island stretching back almost six thousand years. We need to continue to share the story of Irish dairy, show consumers the right things that we are doing, demonstrate our willingness to rise to the challenge and our firm commitment to being a part of the solution to tackle the climate crisis.”