Discipline: competitiveness; Key words: efficiency, market access, productivity, people, planet, management, education, commercialisation, environmental stewardship.

Competitiveness is a function of efficiency, market access (broadening of the market of dairy products is a primary goal) and sustainability. In addition to volatility, structural and consumer needs of markets which with up-to-date information can be addressed only partially, sustainability is progressively also influenced by issues which can be categorized within the three P concepts: Productivity (economic focus), People (sociological focus) and Planet (environmental stewardship focus). The priorities which have been identified and will form the nucleus of activities supported by Milk SA are the following:

  1. Productivity (economic focus): This has three main focus areas which are challenging but at the same time provide opportunities to support sustainable and competitive milk production and expansion of the market:
  • Transparent and effective markets by responding to analysed market signals to the benefit of producers and processors;
  • Market development, where consumers are informed and educated to understand the health attributes and utilization methodologies of milk and dairy products, and where new markets are pursued;
  • Milk production management, giving attention to encompassing quality and precision management, supporting farmers with data analyses, extension and training in, amongst others, high-tech computer programs and systems to enable informed decisions, make genetic progress and ensuring  proficient feeding practices in total mixed ration (TMR) and pasture-based production systems.                                                     2. People (sociological focus): This focus area put emphasis on training, support towards commercial dairy farming, production of safe milk and dairy products and promotion of development of new products to provide more opportunities in the consumer market. More specifically, it is:
  • First and foremost a focus on all-level education and skills and knowledge development in both the primary and secondary dairy industry.
  • It will provide support towards successful commercialisation of dairy farmers, which encompass training and mentoring, understanding and measuring the effect of dairy production on the rural economy and food security.
  • A further challenge is to ensure safe milk and dairy products by identifying contamination risks and developing stringent tests and standards, utilizing advanced and international conforming analysis techniques.
  • The opportunity to develop new products for both the large retail and rural markets needs to be pursued by utilizing the nutraceutical characteristics of milk and dairy products.
  • The composition of dairy products needs to be continuously determined and monitored to provide guidance to nutritionists and consumers

     3. Planet (environmental stewardship focus): This has a number of components:

  • An important focus is animal care, with emphasis on welfare, bio-security and prevention of eroding and dangerous diseases.
  • The industry has a responsibility to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The goal for farms is to become carbon (C) neutral by encouraging eco-efficient practices.
  • In view of climate change and projected water shortages, a water stewardship program should be implemented where farmer application is monitored and promoted, with supporting inputs to ensure ecosystem protection and defining minimum water requirements of pastures.
  • At the same time soil and plant health should be addressed to maximise nitrogen (N)-use efficiency, C and organic matter (OM) accumulation, and to maintain faunal and microbial biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity also has a dairy animal and plant focus by ensuring diversity in the gene pool which can support selection for efficiency while maintaining sustainability of the pool.
  • In dairy processing the emphasis is on waste reduction, efficient energy use and water recycling.


Meissner, H.H., 2019. Sustainability/stewardship of the South African Dairy Industry. Presentation to the Technology Innovation Agency – September 2019; Pretoria.