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Will the EU outdo New Zealand in 2026 as the world’s largest exporter of dairy products?

In a little less than ten years the EU could become the world’s largest exporter of dairy products according to Kees De Roest from the Research Centre on Animal Production (CRPA) in Reggio Emilia. He spoke at the Italian Agriculture and Livestock Fair (17-19 February in Montichiari, Brescia) and explained how the EU will represent 26% of dairy exports in 2026 and will surpass New Zealand, which is the current record holder at 25%.

A variety of issues were discussed in depth, such as the future of dairy exports, but, above all, the role of the European Union in the China market, which is increasingly competitive. In general, Europe’s milk production will increase by roughly 1.3 million tonnes per year, reaching 177 million tonnes in 2026. The increase will amount to 14 million tonnes of which 11 million will be concentrated in Europe’s Dairy Belt, i.e. a gigantic area covering Ireland, the United Kingdom, part of France, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Production is expected to increase in Germany by 10%, which in terms of volume means an increase of 4 million tonnes. De Roest says he is convinced that the production of cow’s milk will continue to grow but with a decrease, in 2026, in the number of animals. In a nutshell this means a reduction in greenhouse gases and ammonia emissions and increased milk yield and quantities. As far as prices are concerned, in 2026 they will exceed an average of 36 cents per litre.

At a global level, thanks to the westernisation of diets in developing countries, an increase in the consumption of dairy products is expected.

What about Italy?

De Roest foresees an increase of 4% for Italy in the coming years. For Giampiero Calzolari of Granarolo, the key to Made in Italy products is instead exports as in the last six years the consumption of fresh milk has dropped by 30%, just as private label brands have also decreased by 30%. Moreover – again according to Calzolari – consumption will decline even further, with fresh milk suffering more than UHT milk.

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Whey: a future in biorefineries

Is it possible to create food products or cosmetic ingredients by processing whey? Absolutely. This innovative idea has been thought up by four young women who graduated in Biotechnology at the University of Bari.
Rosita Pavone, Erika Andriola, Antonella Carbone and Maria Pisano are the names of the four young entrepreneurs who have created the startup company Bioinnotech based in Rutigliano (province of Bari) and set themselves the mission of improving the quality and productivity of the Apulian agri-food sector.

The four biotechnologists met during an internship at the University of Goteborg in Sweden and decided to implement their idea. They currently work in the laboratories of the University of Bari but could shortly open up a Green biorefinery. As well as specific skills regarding biorefineries and the green energy industry, they have also brought back from Sweden a new approach as far as respect towards the environment is concerned and an interest in transferring their scientific and biotechnological skills to something concrete.

BioInnoTech is committed to optimising technology that has already been developed on a small scale at the laboratories of the Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and Biopharmaceutics of the University of Bari and with which an agreement has been stipulated about the use of space and tools.


Activities carried out by BioInnoTech’s research team are currently focused on whey. The strength of BioInnoTech lies in its whey collection services whose purpose is not merely to dispose of this waste product, but rather, to make sure it is subsequently used in industrial production. Today whey is used as yeast for wine and beer.

The purpose of the project is to develop a biorefinery in Puglia, an area of dairy products, starting right from the retrieval and development of the main by-product of the dairy industry, i.e. whey. Because of the high environmental impact of whey due to its chemical composition, Italian law requires it to be properly disposed of. Nevertheless, as a result of its high management costs, whey is often directly disposed of in the open environment (soil or rivers).

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EU-28: 2016 was a good year for dairy exports

All in all 2016 was a good year for EU-28 both in terms of export value (+0.6% compared to 2015) and volume (+5.5%) with the latter performing particularly well. The value of exports amounted to 13,889 million and that of imports to 810 million, with a decrease of 4.3% compared to the previous year. There was therefore a trade surplus of 13,079 million.

Observing data released by, the decline in volume and value of powdered milks, both whole and skimmed, immediately grabs one’s attention: -17% in volume and -24% in value for skimmed milk powder and -4.9% in volume and -7.4% in value for whole milk powder. Condensed milk registered a double-digit decline (-22.1% in volume and -22.9% in value). Results were very good, however, for milk and cream (+25.6 in volume and +17.5% in value compared to 2015), and butter (+18.6% in volume and +18.7% in value). Caseins and caseinates performed well in terms of volume (+8.6% and as much as +71.3% respectively) but collapsed in value (-10.4% and -6.4%). Cheese, the second most imported product after milk with a total of 800,155 tonnes, saw exports rise by 11.4% in volume and by 2.9% in value. Infant milk also saw an increase (+12.2% in volume and +9.8% in value) and, to a lesser extent, yoghurt and buttermilk (+4.1% in volume and +4.9% in value).

Export volumes in December…

In December 2016 exports from EU-28 increased in volume for infant milk (+13.8%) compared to December 2015 and decreased for the following products: cheese (-2.5%), milk and cream (-3.9%), whey powder (-8.5%), skimmed milk powder (-14.4%), whole milk powder (-24.9%) and butter (-48.1%).

… and export values

In contrast, still in the month of December, which bodes well, there was an increase in export unit values compared to the same month in 2015 for the following products: butter (+27.7%), whole milk powder (+16.6%), whey powder (+9.7%), milk and cream (+6.7%) and skimmed milk powder (+1.4%). Cheese and infant milk, however, dropped by 0.8% and 3.3% respectively.

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Milk: mandatory origin labelling in Italy as of 19 April

After thunder comes rain. As of 19 April it will be mandatory in Italy to state on the packages of all milk and dairy products the origin of the raw material used in a way that is clear, visible and easy-to-read so as to ensure more transparency and greater protection for Made in Italy products. This measure will apply to cow’s milk, sheep, goat and buffalo products and other products of other animal origin.

The mandatory country of origin labelling will come into force three months after the publication in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 19 January of the decree of 9 December 2016, in fulfillment of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.

This new system is a real experiment in Italy and allows manufacturers to clearly indicate the origin of the ingredients of many products such as UHT milk, butter, yoghurt, mozzarella, cheeses and dairy products. As stated by the Minister of Agriculture, the objective is to guarantee maximum protection and transparency for consumers and producers.

With the origin labelling trial, buyers will be better informed and aware. It is a historic step that will signify a new relationship between farmers, producers and consumers. In the Minister’s view, Italy will continue to push for this system to come into force at a European level and across all agri-food production, also considering that the Italian legislative decree implements the above-mentioned European regulation.

What exactly will change on 19 April?

The labels on all packages of milk and dairy products will have to indicate the name of the country in which the milk was milked and the name of the country in which the product was packaged or the milk manufactured. If milked, packaged or manufactured in the same country, the indication of origin will state “origin of milk: Italy”; if the packaging and processing phases take place in several countries other than Italy, the label will state “Milk from EU countries”, and if the milking takes place in one or more European countries, the wording will be “Milk processed in EU countries”.

If the operations take place outside the European Union, the wording “non-EU countries” will be used. Only PDO and PGI products are excluded as they already have procedural guidelines regarding the origin and traceability of fresh milk.

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Farindola Pecorino cheese, one hundred sheep to let it survive after earthquake

In the Abruzzo region, specifically in Farindola, in the province of Pescara, they make a one-of-a-kind Pecorino cheese, which is obtained through a very peculiar method: in fact, it is manufactured using pig rennet. This gives the cheese a very particular and strong flavor. This is Pecorino di Farindola, a Slow Food product, and it is made by sheep grazing in the area between Laga Mountains and the Eastern side of the Gran Sasso and this cheese is obtained by raw sheep milk, so the milk doesn’t undergo any thermal treatment. The milk is curdled using peak rennet, which is also made by the cheesemakers, added to the milk at about 31 to 32°C.

Farindola Pecorino Cheese: characteristics

Using an adult pig rennet to curdle the milk actually makes this cheese a first in the worldwide cheese scenario: certain parts of the adult pig’s stomach are left in infusion with salt, white wine, white vinegar and some spices. Once you get the curdles, these are broken down in small pieces by the women’s expert hands, through a series of almost ritualistic movements in order to create the Pecorino wheels in the “fiscella”, a conical wicker basket. The wheels are dry-salted on the top, then they leave the wheels to dry out on wooden racks. This is the beginning of the long and patient aging process. Wheels are turned and molds are removed during the first days, then the wheels are periodically rubbed with local olive oil and red wine vinegar. After about three months of aging on wooden shelves, the wheels are put in Beachwood closets or chests, often piled one on top of the other, where they are periodically turned over and rubbed with oil and vinegar.

All this knowledge, after the earthquake, could have vanished under the rubble. That is why Coop (which distributes this project under the line branded Fior fiore) decided to donate 100 sheep to local cheese maker Pietro Paolo Martinelli in order to allow him to speed up production recovery.

Farindola Pecorino, explains Martinelli, has a millennia-old history and, since forever, women would take care of the house, children, vegetable garden, animals and every related production, including cheesemaking. For this reason, procedural guidelines for Farindola Pecorino requires it to be worked by female hands, according to the ancient rule. Moreover, sheep where at first of Pagliarola breed, which is sadly extinct nowadays. Lacaune breed sheep are used today, a French breed with similar characteristics.

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Sardinian sheep milk yield, a study aims to increase it

Is there some way to increase dairy properties and, therefore, the yield of sheep milk obtained from Sardinian sheep, based on good genetics and also thanks to the development of innovative techniques for predicting lactation periods? It looks like the answer is yes.

A project led by Nicola Macciotta of the Department of Agriculture Sciences of the Univeristy of Sassari, in collaboration with the Regional Farmers Association, Assonapa and Apa, aims to do just that. The project has been presented a few days ago in Milan during the seminary promoted by the Italian Farmers Association on “New analytic technologies and innovative instruments for consultancy”; Stefano Sanna and Marino Contu, president and vice-president of Aras respectively, also took part in the seminary.

Increase in sheep milk yield: the project in-depth

The Sampling campaign, as Macciotta explains, has been conducted on 1200 of Sardinian sheep registered in the genealogic book, distributed over 50 breeding farms located all over the region and it involved the sampling of biologic material, through sinus tampons and individual milk samples. Analysis of data obtained from determination of lactodinamographic parameters, with the help of Formagraph and the determination of individual yield, by means of micro cheese-making procedures, highlighted a good genetic variability with a possibility to increase it by selective breeding.

The study – as Marino Contu states, allowed to develop innovative methods to obtain forecast indexes that can be used in routine analyses to identify milk’s predisposition to cheese-making at no additional costs for genetics selection programs.

Sardinian breeding system is at the cutting edge in terms of technology and innovation – says Stefano Sanna. This is also possible thanks to synergies that are being carried out for years with the Academic and research world. Our technicians are the glue connecting these realities and they put new studies into practice every day in the breeding farms.

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Crisis for Pecorino Romano, institutional negotiations begin

In Sardinia, crowds gather in the squares to protest against the general crisis of the sheep and goats rearing sector. To this regard, the Italian Farmers Association, along with a delegation of farmers from Sardinia chose to start talks and negotiations with institutions: the main goal is still rescuing around 12,000 island companies on the verge of collapsing. It’s easy to see the reason: price of Pecorino Romano cheese has been basically cut in half, decreasing from €9.50 per kilogram to €5.20 per kilogram, with grave repercussions on price of milk at the stable which lost over 50% of its value.

Pecorino Romano and proposals in the talks

Various proposals have been submitted, with the end goal to safeguard the income of producers and farmers saving them from the relentless downward spiral of prices, from the activation of a Guarantee Fund to the necessary elimination of Agea Contest for the needy with the inclusion of Pecorino Romano in the product basket, passing through the automated payment of communitarian obligations. Among other things, representatives ask for facilitated access to agricultural loans with interest protection through the use of De Minimis, activation of a regional rotation Fund made accessible by agricultural companies, directly guaranteed by stocked products already present in the warehouses.

Structural Interventions

Structural and organizational interventions that are needed by the sheep and goats rearing industry have also been inserted in the proposals. There is emphasis on the necessity to face the problem of production organization, which is strongly scattered, as an example by fostering an Interprofessional approach, even in case of specific products (Dop and Igp). All of this along a valorization of the Sardinian quality brand as identity instrument to recognize productions, managed by agricultural companies and regional agro-industrial organs.

Farmers and breeders of the island can only hope their instances will be accepted and all the necessary measures will be implemented in a timely manner in order not to waste a unique heritage of knowledge and professions and to guarantee the livelihood of thousands of families in Sardinia.

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China, milk and dairy imports growing in 2016

Milk and dairy imports are growing in China: 2016 ended with an increase of imports for milk and dairy products equal to 20% in volume and 12% in value, which corresponds to 2,284,188 tons, and $6,620,000,000 (source:

Major increases in volume have been shown in import data for yogurt and buttermilk (+104,3%) and condensed milk (+82.9%), with a good performance also for milk (36.5%) and powdered whole milk (20.9%). On the other hand, we saw a decrease for powdered skimmed milk (-7.9%). In terms of prices, condensed milk through the most in value (62.2%), followed by milk cream (54.4%), then yogurt and buttermilk (a 51.9%). Powdered whole milk saw in almost two-digit increase (9.3%). Prices for powdered skimmed milk on the other hand fell down (-23.4%), in line with their volume trend, as did data for serum powder (-13.9%). Imports for butter increased 14.9% in terms of volume and 14.2% in terms of value.

Milk and dairy imports:places of origin

Where are these milk and dairy products entering into the Asian giant from? Oceania’s leadership is almost  predictable, followed by European Union and North America.

Data from last month of 2016

Data (provided by pertaining to the last month of the year just ended – if compared with data from December 2015 – are overall positive: we have a plus sign for powdered whole milk (+76.2%), milk for infancy products (+9.5%), cheese (+6.9%); on the other hand, we can see a negative sign for percentages related to serum powder (-6.9%), milk and cream (-17.2%), powdered skimmed milk (-26.8%) and butter (-27.3%).

Good news are also coming from retail prices, which increased during December for what concerns serum powder (+23,6%), butter (+17%), powdered skimmed milk (+6.9%) and milk and cream (+5,4%); a slight decrease for cheese (-0.7%), with a more decided downfall for infancy milk (-5,6%) and especially powdered whole milk (-12,4%).

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In Italy people are living longer partly thanks to dairy products

People who say that dairy products are bad for you after a certain age should apparently think again. This is what Assolatte (Italian Dairy Association) has stated, underlining that dairy products help keep the brain sharp. A study by the University of Kansas Medical Center supports this theory.
On the other hand, if in Italy people are living for such a long time, a good part of the reason is due to the diet which also includes dairy products. Indeed it appears that dairy products are the right food to ward off the main fear of elderly Italians, i.e. the loss of one’s memory and mental clarity. A good 50% of Italians (against a 38% average of their peers in 16 other countries in the world) fear this, according to a study conducted by GSK. Dairy products help the brain function properly – observes Assolatte – because they provide two types of protein (casein and whey) that act in synergy, promoting glutathione production. Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants produced by the body and is fundamental to preventing oxidative stress and damage caused by normal metabolic processes. The researchers of the University of Kansas Medical Center have discovered that the more milk one drinks, the more glutathione levels rise.

The benefits of dairy products in a French study

The study carried out by the American university supports a study conducted in France by researchers of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and the University of Strasbourg whose conclusions were published in the March 2016 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and also reported by Assolatte: at least one glass of milk, a pot of yoghurt or a portion of fresh cheese, together with five portions of fruit and vegetables, represents the daily diet that gives the best results for men over 45, both in terms of health and life expectancy.
960 men over the age of 45 were studied for three years in order to identify correlations between the different families of food and the risk of mortality from all causes. After 15 years their health was verified. The results confermed that the men who were in better health were those who had consumed more than average amounts of milk, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables, cheese and bread. Those most fond of milk were rewarded the record for having the lowest mortality rate, regardless of the cause of death.

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Milk production still falling in Oceania

2016 ended with a fall in milk production for Australia and New Zealand, the two main countries of Oceania; Australia lost 10.29% in the July-October period of 2016 compared to the same period the previous year and New Zealand reported a decrease of 3% over a longer period – from June to November (CLAL data). This fall in production is due to several reasons in spite of the weather conditions which were favourable. The hot and dry climate in the north of Australia improved the quality and production of hay, which in turn allowed Aussie dairy farmers to limit their need to purchase additional feed for dairy cows.

In New Zealand in November milk production was down by 4.53% compared to the same period in 2015 due to rainy weather, especially on South Island, which has had negative effects on milk production. The positive implications regard price: the last auctions were good enough to support raw milk prices recommended by the main processing companies.

Dairy product performance in Oceania

With regard to dairy products, according to CLAL data, prices of butter are rising slightly with a reduced milk production which continues to limit production.

As far as Cheddar is concerned, prices are rising slightly. During the holiday season demand fell, however the few buyers in the market were determined to buy.

As regards milk powders, skimmed milk prices have risen slightly partly due to the decision of some processing companies to use milk to produce whole milk powder instead of skimmed milk powder; potential buyers appear very cautious also due to uncertainty caused by the EU intervention stores, and manufacturers are trying not to exceed the supply needed to meet current demands.

On the other hand, whole milk powder prices are falling, perhaps due to an increase in supply as previously mentioned.
In conclusion, raw milk prices expected in New Zealand should increase farmers’ confidence to be able to pay debts incurred recently in a period of low revenues.

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