EUROPE – As European farmers voice concerns over EU policies impacting their competitiveness, the European dairy industry is gearing up to address key challenges at the 10th Dairy Innovation Strategies conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  

In a discussion on sustainability, global competition, and declining milk sales, Dr. Stephan Peters, Manager for Dairy, Nutrition, Health, and Sustainability at the Dutch dairy trade body, Nederlandse Zuivel Organisitie (NVO), shed light on the nutritional credentials of dairy products versus plant-based alternatives. 

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Peters emphasizes the importance of dairy in a healthy and sustainable diet, highlighting recent research conducted by NVO.  

The study delved into the nutritional and health benefits of dairy, underlining its significance in dietary terms amidst growing interest in plant-based diets. 

Dr. Peters clarified that while there is a trend towards plant-based alternatives, replacing dairy does not necessarily lead to an equally healthy diet.  

He stressed the need for a holistic approach, advocating for vegetarianism over veganism and cautioning against overlooking the nutritional value of dairy in pursuit of sustainability. 

Despite the popularity of plant-based products in supermarkets, Dr. Peters noted that dairy alternatives constitute a small portion of consumption in the Netherlands, with dairy products remaining predominant.  

He attributed the decline in milk consumption to changing consumption habits, particularly the rise of bottled water as a lunchtime staple. 

Addressing concerns about environmental sustainability, Dr. Peters emphasized the importance of prioritizing health and nutrition over environmental considerations alone.  

He argued that while plant-based alternatives may offer ecological benefits, they may not necessarily provide adequate nutrition, urging consumers to prioritize health in dietary choices. 

Reflecting on the challenges faced by European farmers, Dr. Peters acknowledged the impact of evolving regulations on their livelihoods.  

He warned of the economic repercussions of continued regulatory uncertainty, stressing the need for stability and long-term planning in the agricultural sector. 

In conclusion, Dr. Peters highlighted the vital role of dairy in maintaining a balanced diet and calls for a balanced approach that considers both health and sustainability in dietary choices. 

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