24th Oct 2016

EU promotes consumption of meat and milk

  • The European Union is co-financing a campaign that will promote drinking milk (Photo: maraker)

The European Union is investing around €33 million to promote European agricultural products in the EU.

On Thursday (30 October), the European Commission approved co-financing of 21 projects which will promote agricultural products in the EU.

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In three years time, EU citizens should be consuming more European milk, but also more sheep meat, fruit, vegetables, juices, and organic food.

Almost all promotional programmes will last three years. The EU is only funding part of the projects and the money goes to generic products.

The programmes however do not target the whole of the EU. Nine of the approved projects only target the country where the request for funding comes from.

The EU is spending €2.5 million on a project which will promote milk in Denmark, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It will be carried out by the Danish Dairy Board and its counterparts from France, Ireland and the UK. Together these organisations contribute €5 million to the campaign.

The campaign will feature “sports people promoting milk”, said Kirsten Holm Svendsen, policy director at the Danish Dairy Board in Brussels.

There will be TV commercials and billboard advertisement explaining “there is nothing wrong with milk”, said Svendsen.

Recently, several scientific studies noted the negative aspects of milk consumption.

On Tuesday (28 October), the British Medical Journal published a study that concluded that more than three glasses a day might have “undesirable effects”.

But milk consumption is already declining in several parts of Europe. In the UK for example, consumers drank 32 litres of whole milk per year in 1999. This amount dropped to 21.4 litres per year in 2009.

Milk is not the only product that some European consumers will see promoted in the next three years.

“The younger generation doesn't know how to cook sheep meat and see it as impractical”, said Kathy Roussel, of the British Agriculture Horticulture Development Board. “We need to change that perception.”

Together with their French and Irish counterparts, the AHDB will set up a programme targeted at young Germans, Belgians, Danes, French, Irish and Britons, telling them to buy European lamb. Most of the effort will be on social media.

But critics say the money is being wasted.

“If the demand isn't there, then the demand isn't there”, Erik Gerritsen of the World Wide Fund for Nature said. Companies, he adds, can perfectly promote their products themselves. “They don't need subsidies for that.”

Gerritsen works on the LiveWell for Life project, which gives advise on “a healthy diet that can reduce the impact food production and consumption has on the environment”.

LiveWell for Life is also partly funded by the EU.

“We are advising people to eat more vegetables. I don't think we should be subsidising the promotion of meat at a European level”, he said.

In 2007 between 12 and 17 percent of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions came from livestock products.

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