Last week saw the latest Dairy Industry Newsletter annual conference in London – and despite the market doldrums it was very well attended, a testament to the job Barry Wilson and his team have done in revitalising the event. The audience was still primarily UK-oriented but several of the presenters came from leading world dairy supply regions and most of the themes for discussion were very international, with market volatility the central topic under review.
Useful debate followed most of the presentations – a couple of corporate roadshows aside. Unsurprisingly, market recovery still seemed distant for many of those present, reflecting the current unfortunate misalignment between supply and demand – a forecast of flat milk prices for five years provided an antidote to the expectations of Q3 recovery: some commentary on the market remains too optimistic.
However, what was spot on was that the most informed contributors continue to see the dairy market’s strong medium-term prospects – which is perhaps why so many turn up to such events in the first place.
For some exporters with strong propositions in the right product segments and channels, the export market remains strong. Risk management tools have become increasingly attractive for industry participants, but present some risks of their own for the unwary. Some companies talked in impressive detail about their response to the volatility issue. Ultimately, though, the best risk management tool is the market insight that the topline trade figures never provide.
Never has in-depth understanding of the opportunities in markets such as Asia and channels such as foodservice been so important. The processors and industries that do their homework during this difficult period will be those best placed to take advantage of this when the market comes out the other side of the present downturn.