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New Study Says Irish Consumers Believe They Can Help Climate Change

They also believe that the dairy industry is crucial in Ireland.

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According to a new study published by the European Milk Forum, Irish consumers firmly believe that they can avert climate change while sustaining the Irish dairy industry. 

The European Milk Forum (EMF) recently released the results of a survey that was conducted over three years and included data from 2,000 Irish consumers, as well as 2,000 consumers in Belgium, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands. 

The results of the survey were very telling, revealing that nine out of 10 Irish consumers believe that Ireland is worthy of its world-renowned reputation for producing high-quality dairy products. However, 41.7 per cent of consumers believes that the dairy sector has a serious negative impact on climate change. 

With only around 18 months left to save the planet from total disaster, it is positive to see that 82 per cent of the surveyed consumers believe that to preserve the planet, we need to change how we consume and produce food. In terms of the dairy sector, consumers firmly agree that the dairy sector can help customers to eat more sustainably. 

Climate change is a pressing issue right now that is affecting every area of our lives, particularly food and farming. Livestock accounts for 31% of total methane emissions in the US, with dairy cattle alone accounting for 26% of these. While dairy milk is an Irish favourite, non-dairy 'milks' are catching up fast, often touting claims of environmental benefits. Oatly, which has become a favourite with baristas around the world, runs a rather tongue-in-cheek Twitter account where the company regularly claims that its product is far better for the environment than dairy milk. Alpro, one of the leading alternative milk suppliers in the UK, has stated that its “soya-based drinks use 2x less land, 4x less water and create 2.5x times less CO2” than dairy milk.

Oat milk. Getty Images.
Oat milk. Getty Images.

However, nearly 83 per cent of consumers surveyed believe that Irish dairy is produced authentically and sustainably. Despite this low awareness of measures being taken by the dairy sector to improve sustainability at farm level, the majority of consumers want the Irish dairy sector to continue to be successful and to support future generations.

Commenting on the results, Zoe Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council said:

“The ‘Sustainable Dairy in Europe’ project is really essential for the dairy sector. We have a strategic action plan in place to support farmers to continue to produce dairy products that are important in the daily diet but to also produce dairy in a more sustainable way using new farming practices that reduce their impact on the environment. It is heartening that our consumers value the Irish dairy’s outputs and the role of the Irish dairy farmer not only to produce nutritious products, but also the contribution they make to the fabric of our rural society. Ireland has a world-renowned reputation in this sector with consumers identifying our products as far superior to elsewhere in the world. Irish dairy has one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique grass-fed, family-based Irish farming system which is extremely efficient and involves less intensive farming. It is in all interests to continue to nurture that approach and support new innovations in soil fertility, water quality and nutrient management.”

In comparison to other European countries, Irish consumers believe they hold the most responsibility to tackle the effects of climate change. in comparison, consumers in the Netherlands, France and Belgium believe that responsibility lies with the industry. Whether this is right or wrong, it is clear that Irish consumers truly want to impact climate change and ensure the planet survives for future generations. 

Do you think Irish consumers can seriously affect climate change? Let us know in the comments below.