The Government’s decision to require schools to provide free milk for children will help shape future consumption trends, according to the NFU, and in turn will provide more stability to dairy farmers in the short, and long term.
Education Secretary Michael Gove recently announced new food standards regulations for schools, intended to ensure the school diet is healthier for children. The new regulations, which will come into effect on January 1 2015, state that semi-skimmed milk should be available every day to children in order to address concerns about low calcium levels in children.
The regulations will also require one or more portions of vegetables or salad to be available every day, and at least three different fruits, and three different vegetables each week. Further limits are also being set on the quantity of sugary and fried foods served up each week.
NFU chief dairy adviser, Rob Newbery, said the announcement was good news for Britain’s dairy farmers:
“The fresh liquid milk market in the UK is almost unique in Europe and the world,” he said. “By providing fresh milk for children in schools, not only are we improving the nutritional profile of their meals, we’re also shaping consumption trends in the future.
“Dairy farmers will continue to produce a high quality nutritious product, so its great news that the market for their milk is being developed in this positive way.”
Dairy UK chief executive Judith Bryans believes the habits children pick up at an early age can have a major effect on their health in later life, saying:
“It is essential children get the best possible start which means encouraging a healthy diet and helping kids to reach their growth potential at a normal weight. Encouraging milk consumption alongside that of fruits and vegetables as part of a package of measures can help to improve the diets of the nation’s children.”