My initial interest in this topic arose from my daily work in Glanbia and being from a dairy background. As the Irish dairy farming community continues to expand a concern would be that, once processed, our nutritious filled milk would ultimately end up as a commodity being traded on the world market.
However it was obvious to me that Irish dairy farmers do things a little different than the majority of dairy farmers around the world. Especially when it comes to the diet of the cow. Irish cows consume more permanent pasture than anywhere around the globe. As a result milk coming from Irish cows is significantly different from cows who are predominantly grain fed.
Along with this in the US consumers are seeing a growing trend towards grass fed and particularly grass fed dairy. So much so that niche dairy co-ops in the US have become 100% grass fed to meet the demand of this premium market. I wondered how a dairy farm could be more grass fed than Ireland and also how much premium was there for these products? Furthermore I was curious to see what other markets were selling grass fed dairy and does this product category fit into a global trend of fresh wholesome food.
I set off on my individual travel visiting the USA, China, Japan and New Zealand. My main objective was to visit farms and see what were the similarities and differences to an Irish pasture based system. I also looked at product ranges in many retailers, particularly Asia and the US as they are key export markets for Irish dairy.
A recommendation from my study and travel would be to get closer to the consumer with Irish dairy. I believe we need more products in more categories to make the scientific element of grass fed a success.
Read about Joe here
Joe will be presenting the findings of his research at the 2019 Nuffield Ireland Conference in the Castleknock Hotel on November 15th. Book tickets here.