SmartDairy Midterm Project Meeting

Julian Worley

In October, the SmartDairy team convened in Bologna, Italy, to review the project’s progress, upcoming tasks, and future events. Hosted by the Italian research team, this meeting brought together representatives from all four country teams. The meeting began with introductions as it was the first time some researchers had met in person since the initial major project meeting was held online. A concise overview of the project milestones achieved and those currently in progress was presented. 

The meeting allowed each country team to present their progress within our individual work packages and how the insights from these packages could contribute to the entire project. In the UK, significant headway was made in conducting interviews with farmers regarding sustainable farming innovations being tested and implemented. These findings informed a consumer survey exploring the willingness of consumers to pay for products produced sustainably. Although this survey is ongoing, the team eagerly anticipates the implications of these results, particularly concerning the delivery of innovation information and its impact on consumer willingness to pay. 

The Finnish team outlined their progress, illustrating how each stage built upon the previous. Their focus involved examining the cultural connection between dairy consumption and the potential shift to dairy alternatives and its implications for Finland’s cultural identity. They conducted in-depth interviews with various consumers regarding their dietary relationship with dairy. Analysis of this data is set to commence soon. 

On the second day, the Irish team shared their achievements and proposed a survey targeting dairy farmers in Ireland. This survey, coupled with another aimed at the general population, aims to assess the economic viability of a carbon market within the Irish dairy industry. These surveys seek to understand the price point at which farmers would sell carbon credits or GHG emissions reductions, and conversely, the price consumers would pay to offset GHG emissions from their milk consumption. If these figures do not align, indicating difference between what farmers are willing to sell and consumers are willing to pay, a carbon market in the Irish dairy sector would require governmental intervention to be viable. 

Finally, the Italian team presented their advancements in simulating changes within the dairy supply chain following the adoption of various innovations and how these changes would affect other production aspects.  

This led to discussions about exploring the integration of individual project components and the potential extrapolation of findings from one country or supply chain segment to another. As the research in each aspect is ongoing, our discussions revolved around potential possibilities. Nonetheless, it was an exciting exchange with active contributions from all teams. The mid-project meeting concluded with a sense of accomplishment for the progress made thus far and anticipation for the forthcoming stages of the project. 






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