Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Dairy and alternatives

A dairy product is food derived from the milk of mammals. The main animals used for milk production are most often cows, but in some countries goats, sheep, water buffaloes, yaks, horses and camels are also used. While dairy is used regularly Europe, the Middle East, South and Central Asia, East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines avoids it. Dairy products include butter, cream and fermented milk products such as cheese, yogurt, kefir. Dairy contains significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, although with the exception of butter. Non-animal alternatives to standard dairy products may be made from soya, rice, oats, almond and coconut. Dairy production is resource-and GHG-intensive (dairy producing animals are ruminants) and give rise to the same environmental concerns that are associated with meat consumption.

27 August 2020

According to this article from POLITICO, dairy farmers in West Africa are being undercut by exports of “fat-filled milk powder” from the European Union. This product is a blend of dairy whey left over from processes such as butter manufacture and vegetable fats such as palm oil. 

27 August 2020

This report from US thinktank The Breakthrough Institute suggests federal policy pathways to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy farming in the United States. It estimates the potential job creation and climate mitigation potential of each proposal and finds that, together, the policy proposals could save and create tens of thousands of jobs, while also reducing dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

8 July 2020

This paper from the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) programme examines the narratives that have - at different times and places - surrounded three scenarios about the future of milk and dairy: “more milk”, “better milk” and “less milk”. 

23 June 2020

This report from the international non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy examines the climate impacts of large dairy corporations. It finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the 13 largest dairy companies have increased by 11% over the last two years, alongside an 8% increase in milk production, and that none of these corporations has published plans to cut total emissions in their dairy supply chains. 

9 June 2020

This working paper from the World Resources Institute compares the carbon footprint of dairy from 13 different countries and pork from 11 countries. It uses a carbon opportunity cost approach to carbon footprinting, i.e. it accounts for carbon that is not stored in vegetation or soils because the land is being used to produce dairy or pork. 

3 March 2020

This paper gives an overview of the potential public health impacts of dairy production and consumption across the globe. It notes that dairy production is projected to increase by a quarter between 2014 and 2025, driven by both a rising global population and increases in the amount of dairy consumed per person.

10 February 2020

Dairy company Arla has commissioned this report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, which sets out a vision for how the European dairy sector can become more sustainable in the future, balancing environmental, economic and social considerations.

13 May 2019

This paper, written by researchers on the University of Oxford’s LEAP project and co-authored by the FCRN’s Tara Garnett, explores what drives the intensification of dairy farming, and the consequences for the environment, animal welfare, socio-economic wellbeing and human health. The paper also considers three potential approaches to addressing these consequences: sustainable intensification, multifunctionality, and agroecology.

1 April 2019

This feature in the UK’s Guardian newspaper examines the environmental implications of China’s promotion of milk consumption. Dairy consumption in China has grown from very little to around 30 kg per year within the last few decades, and government guidelines recommend that people triple their current dairy consumption.

11 February 2019

This report from Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Global Dairy Platform shows the global dairy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and outlines the measures the sector could take to contribute to climate change mitigation.

29 January 2019

FCRN member Marie Trydeman Knudsen has co-authored this life cycle assessment of organic versus conventional milk production in Western Europe, which highlights the importance of including soil carbon changes, ecotoxicity and biodiversity in environmental assessments.

25 September 2018

In this study, researchers investigated the views of urban Brazilian citizens on dairy production. The study also explored the public’s awareness of and their views on the acceptability of four common husbandry practices: early cow-calf separation; zero-grazing; culling of the newborn male calf; and dehorning without pain mitigation. Their goal was to understand Brazilians’ concerns around and acceptance of dairy farming.

24 July 2018

A new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP, a US non-profit research and advocacy organisation) and Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN, a non-profit headquartered in Spain) finds that the five largest meat and dairy companies together account for more greenhouse gas emissions than ExxonMobil, Shell or BP. The top 20 meat and dairy companies have greater emissions than some nations, including the UK and Australia. The report argues that by 2050, the meat and dairy industry could account for 80% of the planet’s greenhouse gas budget if the industry grows as projected.

12 March 2018

Startup Perfect Day, which grows milk proteins in yeast cells instead of cows, has raised $24.7 million dollars in funding and is now talking to major food brands.

26 February 2018

A new paper compares four popular plant based milks to cow’s milk. It concludes that soy milk is the best replacement for cow’s milk from a nutritional standpoint.

20 February 2018

A new technique has been devised to verify whether the cows producing ‘organic’ milk have actually spent the required 120 days a year grazing outdoors.

20 February 2018

A new study shows that individual dairy calves have a tendency to be pessimistic or optimistic, with more fearful calves tending to be more pessimistic.

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6 February 2018

Tougher immigration laws, the rising cost of labour and cheap credit could encourage dairy farms to use more robots, according to this article in Bloomberg.

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