“Is Dairy Dead?” – Insights from the 10th Dairy Innovation Strategies 2024

COPENHAGEN—This past April 24-25th, the 10th Dairy Innovation Strategies 2024 conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The annual event hosted dairy producers, researchers, suppliers, and industry experts from around the world for two days of collaboration, networking, and learning about what the present and future hold for the dairy sector.

With inspirational speakers and access to new technologies, the conference provides a unique knowledge-sharing opportunity between attendees and exhibitors.

“This year’s event was incredibly insightful,” said Anne Marie Butler, Edlong’s Global Director of Strategy and Innovation. “A few of the topics that seemed to be on everybody’s mind were innovation, nutrition, and sustainability. Plant-based also went from almost an afterthought in previous years to a driver of many discussions and talks.”

These broader themes and conversations provided a perfect backdrop for Edlong’s roundtable discussions.

In addition to Butler, Edlong’s roundtable was led by Dr. Lourdes Mato, Associate Principal Scientist-Applied Research, and Susan O’Shaughnessy, Sr. Scientist – EMEA/APAC Applications.

Anne Marie Butler, Edlong Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Anne Marie Butler, Global Director of Strategy and Innovation

Connect with Anne Marie on LinkedIn!

Susan O'Shaughnessy, Edlong's Senior Applications Specialist, EMEA

Susan O’Shaughnessy, Sr. Scientist – EMEA/APAC Applications

Connect with Susan on LinkedIn!

Dr. Lourdes Mato, Dairy Flavor Research Scientist

Dr. Lourdes Mato, Associate Principal Scientist-Applied Research

Connect with Dr. Lourdes on LinkedIn!

The two-session series “Is Dairy Dead?” did not seek to make definitive statements about the state of the dairy industry or make a sales pitch but rather to crowd-source the collective opinions and sentiments of those present.

Thinking back on the sessions, O’Shaughnessy said, “The turnout and response to the talk were incredible, we actually ran out of places in the second one. In both sessions, we reached the conclusion that dairy is most definitely not dead but is evolving! While some participants felt unsure about its future most were positive with words such as optimistic, excited and curious being used to describe it.”

“There was agreement that innovation is needed in the category. Areas such as fortification, gut health and hybrids were discussed to drive interest back into the sector, with novel technologies like precision fermentation remaining in the “watch this space” category.”

Dr. Mato agreed stating, “The consensus of our participants was that milk and dairy products are still hot. Moreover, they’re perceived as a highly nutritious comfort product by consumers and would be difficult to replace them in one’s daily diet.”


She continues, “Several categories within dairy are experiencing growth, with some, such as fermented milks, reinventing themselves with attractive options. However, the dairy sector needs to innovate beyond simply creating versions of existing categories. This is true for all consumers but especially for Gen Z.”

Butler adds, “Innovation was a topic that came up a lot during the roundtable. Questions like, “What is the right innovation?” or “Is this really innovation or renovation?”. Understanding how to answer these questions for your product and market is pivotal with sustainability and nutrition increasingly becoming top of mind for consumers.”

According to Dr. Mato, sustainability was at the core of almost every talk at the conference. “We all agree that dairy is naturally highly nutritious. That is a given. However, as the population increases so will the need for nutritious, audacious, and affordable food that is also sustainable. This means a need for transparency and support starting with farmers all the way up the entire supply chain.”

O’Shaughnessy added that this is leading dairy and plant-based to reevaluate their relationships, “With sustainability in mind, there seemed to be a greater synergy this year between dairy and plant based with both working to find a way to coexist in the market, Many dairy companies continue to explore plant based ranges but also look towards hybrid products to not only target the growing flexitarian market but also to reduce CO2 emissions.”

Despite holistic approaches that take into account more than just emissions, and potential hybrid products, dairy continues to lag behind plant-based in the consumer’s perception of sustainability.


“If you’re using more sustainable practices, you need to let your consumers know. If you have added nutritional or functional benefits, you need to be able to communicate that information to your target audience,” stressed Butler.

Butler finished by saying, “One of the big conclusions of not only our roundtables but of the conference as a whole is the need for better communication. The dairy industry has a massive role to play in the future of food, and answering this call will take a collaborative effort. That needs to start with communication with each other in forums like this, but more importantly with the consumers.”

Learn how Edlong can help your next project be everything dairy can be

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About Edlong Flavor Solutions
Edlong has the world’s largest portfolio of authentic dairy and dairy-free flavors that improve classic taste profiles for Cheese, Butter, Sweet Dairy, Cream, and Milk. Working closely with our customers, Edlong can apply the right building blocks to create tastes that uniquely differentiate a brand. At Edlong, we believe the taste of dairy can be innovative, inspiring, a sales booster, and even a game changer. That is why Edlong believes in Everything Dairy Can Be. 

Contact us or visit edlong.com.


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