The dairy sector will have challenges coming soon, especially as they relate to artificially created dairy proteins.
Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, told the recent Dairy Farmers of Ontario annual meeting that there will be several issues for dairy farmers and regulators to grapple with.
A San Francisco company called Perfect Day creates dairy proteins from a process in which yeast consumes starches to make the proteins. They are now being sold in the U.S. to create ice cream.
“Are they a microbrewery, or a dairy without cows? How will supply management deal with this? Will they be inside of quota or outside of quota?” he asked.
He said that he’s also questioning the growth figures that have generally been accepted for livestock protein demand and for global population.
The academic journal the Lancet published studies in the fall that showed that population growth may not reach the heights that have been predicted, which would reduce long-term future demand. Fraser, whose Twitter handle is @feeding9billion, says that last spring he would have agreed with population growth protections, but some new data are showing otherwise.
Other trends that challenge the continued demand for livestock proteins include the aging of the population of the world with older people eating less meat, and a world-wide trend to people reducing the amount of meat they eat.
There are positives, though, and Fraser says that the COVID-19 crisis has created huge opportunities for the food sector, especially a focus on local supply and local producers – which fits the dairy system, and especially supply management well.
He also says there’s potential to tell the sustainability story, with Canada’s dairy producers showing much less climate impact than other places in the world.