U.S. dairy farmers traveled to the UAE on a trade mission to highlight their country’s long-term focus on exports to the region as the entire U.S. dairy industry increases its commitment to global sustainability best practices. The mission participants included dairy farmer delegates from across the United States that hold top level leadership roles for research and promotion boards in addition to U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) executives.
As the world’s largest single -country producer of cow’s milk with 101.3 million MT during 2020, the United States offers tremendous supply diversity to the region with the breadth and depth of high-quality products. Over the last five years, skim milk powder/non-fat dry milk and cheese accounted for about half of all U.S. dairy export volume to Middle East North Africa (MENA). However, demand increased during the pandemic and U.S. export value to the region grew 20% in 2020 to $328 million.
The farmers on the mission stated that over generations, U.S. dairy farms have improved efficiency and increased their ability to meet the growing global population. The long legacy of environmental stewardship is expanding to include ambitious environmental goals to become carbon neutral or better by 2050.
“Continual progress is an ever-present commitment from U.S. dairy farmers and suppliers,” said Krysta Harden, U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), president and CEO. “The U.S. dairy community is accelerating adoption of new practices and technologies that use fewer resources and emit fewer greenhouse gases, including methane, while producing innovative and affordable products that nourish a growing global population.”
Retailers, manufacturers, foodservice operators and consumers can count on the U.S. dairy community for sustainable innovation solutions that are healthful for both the body and the planet. Highlighting diverse in-market investments, U.S. farmers and suppliers engaged with regional trade across a wide-range of USDEC activities. A few highlights include:
- Gulfood Manufacturing Show attendees visiting USDEC’s booth where they learned about the quality and diversity of U.S. dairy ingredients, including milk powders, whey permeate, whey protein concentrate/isolate, milk protein concentrate/isolate and lactose.
- A trade dinner attended by USDEC staff, USDEC members, local trade and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Dubai office on 9 November cultivated networking and sharing awareness of U.S. dairy quality, reliability and variety.
- A retail tour highlighting the USA Cheese Guild’s multifaceted in-store promotions and robust retail program responsible for introducing over 900 SKU’s to the region over the last several years. Attractive displays and point of sale materials and merchandising have helped spread the word of the U.S. as a competitive supplier of high-quality cheese. The Guild works with more than 20 retailers across the MENA market and this trip showcased the partnership with the prominent retailer chain, Lulu Hypermarket.
- The International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA Dubai) education partnership graduation ceremony featuring the USA Cheese Guild’s training program called the USA Cheese Specialist™ Certification Program. This unique offering aims at educating culinary students and trade professionals across the foodservice and retail segments about USA Cheeses. To date, across all global markets, the Guild provided 23,000 hours of training to over 870 students from 39 countries. In the UAE specifically, 259 students earned the designation of USA Cheese Specialist™ and an additional 185 graduates are expected to do so in 2021.
- A social media event, U.S. Dairy Farmers in the Kitchen – featured visiting farmers engaging with social media influencers, Nicole Maftoum (@eatlikenicole) and Chef Nikita Gandhi Patni (@theveggiefix) for a tasting of two regionally-popular recipes. Insights from the farmers on a dairy farming in the United States were shared while creatively cooking with USA cheeses. This helps consumers across the MENA region to connect through @USAcheeseGuild Facebook and Instagram channels.
“We are committed to ensuring our sustainable U.S. dairy supply reaches across international markets and increases consumer demand for new, innovative dairy ingredients and cheeses,” said Larry Hancock, a U.S. dairy farmer from Texas and USDEC Board Chair. “I represent a diverse group of more than 31,000 U.S. dairy farmers across all 50 states that are united with U.S. dairy suppliers in delivering quality products and nutrition to support MENA as a food innovation hub.”