Farmers, processors and representative organisations have joined forces "to explain the vital role of meat and dairy in a balanced diet and to demonstrate how the Irish meat and dairy sectors are taking major steps to protect the environment and guarantee the highest possible standards in animal welfare".  It is implemented by a professional PR company, using a website, and social media.  Members are the Irish Food Board (Bord Bia), Dairy Industry Ireland, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers, the Irish Farmers Association, Meat Industry Ireland and the National Dairy Council.

The meat and dairy industry face common sustainability challenges. They both also face critisisms based on misinformation. In this initiative, farmer associations, dairy and meat processor associations and dairy and Irish food promotion agencies have come together to try to establish the facts behind some of the information circulating in the traditional and social media.  Working with a professional PR company they have developed audio visual content, based on scientific evidence and trusted sources, communicated through "influencers", targeted at consumers.

The main challenge has been the continous attacks by the media and policymakers against the consumption of beef, from an environmental, human nutrition and animal welfare perspective.  The initiative was started approx 3 years but was stalled for a while, but then has been restarted in recent months.

The main benefits of this initiative is the creation of a platform to produce information about the positive aspects of meat and dairy. It provides an opportunity for the key stakeholders to develop consistent messaging for the media and consumers.

Main lessons learned are:

  1. Communicating to consumers about the sustainablity of meat and dairy requires a balanced approach to be credible.  Challenges need to be identified as well as positive aspects promoted. Impartial/unbiased  scientists/researchers need to be part of the process.
  2. The beef sector can collaborate with other sectors to achieve "win-wins" when addressing misinformation relating to its sustainability credentials.
  3. Collaborative initiatives, including involving others along the supply chain provides an opportunity to develop a wider and deeper campaign.
  4. The meatanddairyfacts campaign contributes to the debate relating to the role of meat and dairy as part of a sustainable diet. It provides attractive materials that helps to allay consumer concerns and explain the benefits of meat and dairy to a lay audience. 

Literature source: Meat and Dairy Facts

Author: Maeve Henchion - TEAGASC