Many mainstream health and nutrition organizations worldwide recommend daily consumption of dairy products for optimal health. As a good source of calcium as well as other important nutritional elements, dairy products have long been consumed by people as part of a healthy diet. That said, challenges have been made to various aspects of dairy’s health and nutrition status in recent years that have had an impact on consumption rates. Although some of the challenges are global, some are more unique to California or the U.S. For example, new U.S. laws enhancing health reform standards (such as reduced sodium levels in foods) pose some areas of development for the dairy industry. Examples include low sodium cheese products.
Nutrition and health issues can provide opportunities that can be capitalized on, or threats to dairy consumption that need to be mitigated. CDRF recognizes nutrition as a fast evolving science. It understands that the dairy industry must proactively promote its position in the diet or risk substitution in the product.
California has an important part to play in the global effort. California is home to a number of milk scientists (the most well-known are housed at the Davis campus of the University of California) that are making groundbreaking advancements in our knowledge about the health benefits of milk.
CDRF has taken a global leadership role in the advancement, sharing and collaboration of milk science through its support and management of the International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC). IMGC has a base of more than 1,000 interested parties (mainly scientists) and the support of dairy industry associations from around the globe. CDRF intends to continue its support for the IMGC as well as dedicate funding towards important health and nutrition based projects.
Generally speaking, nutrition and health projects are large, long-term, and expensive. It is not CDRF’s intention at this stage to attempt to tackle such projects on its own. In the short-term, CDRF intends to support projects that are already in place that will benefit from increased funding as well as projects with well-controlled experiments which demonstrate the targeted health benefits of dairy products.
CDRF invests in projects to protect and promote relevant health and nutrition benefits of milk and dairy products to key target markets in order to maintain and increase customer and/or consumer demand. This program will be the driving force that will dictate many future research initiatives.