National Dairy Council (NDC) Chief Executive Officer Zoe Kavanagh has told delegates attending today’s Teagasc Liquid Milk Conference that, despite a number of constraints imposed by the EU, a strong message is being communicated to Irish consumers regarding the benefits of including dairy products as part of a balanced diet.

“We are doing this by commissioning innovative scientific research and partnering with a number of leading sports’ personalities when it comes to promoting the tremendous levels of nutrition which milk products can provide,” she added.

Commenting on the role of milks a valuable nutritional aid for athletes and sports enthusiasts the NDC representative confirmed that the use of semi skimmed milk can be used to effectively re-hydrate while, at the same tie, promoting muscle recovery.

“We are also actively targeting young people of all ages. The current Primary School initiatives are working well. But there is room for improvement. It is crucially important that teachers see the value of making milk available in the classroom without the processes of getting the milk distributed to the students getting in the way of the other day-to-day learning activities.

“It is obviously important for the milk that is available in classrooms to have optimal taste. We know form of old that the ‘warm milk’ syndrome will only serve to put children off drinking milk for the rest of their lives.”

Kavanagh (pictured) went on to point out that targeting teenagers, where milk is concerned, requires a more sophisticated approach. “Our current campaign, which encourages students to develop a television advertising campaign for dairy products is eliciting a tremendous response. Entry levels to date have been extremely high and the innovation shown by the young people getting involved truly remarkable. The ideas generated by the winning team will be broadcast in a professional advertising format by National Television station later in the year.”

NDC farmer levies currently amount to approximately €2.4 million annually, of which 10% is dedicated to promotional work in schools. In summing up Zoe Kavanagh confirmed that Ireland continued to produce dairy products of  an exemplary quality.

“Milk and dairy consumption levels also remain high, when compared with other countries,” she stressed.

“But there is absolutely no room for complacency. We must future proof the interests of the Irish milk industry. This will require a continuing focus on the development of innovative products and communicating the nutritional benefits of dairy products to consumers of all ages!”