The public's view and opinion on how Irish milk is produced is very important so farmers can retain their social license to produce milk, National Dairy Council (NDC) CEO Zoe Kavanagh has said.

This social license to produce dairy product from a grass-based system is currently "under question" from the public, as it has been for the last three years according to NDC research.

"We're bringing in a new dimension into the room. There's been a huge conversation around everything you [producers] are doing on your farm and now I think it's very important that now we bring the Irish public as a consideration into the room.

"Their opinion really matters and their knowledge about what you are doing on your farm is vitally important," she said speaking at Dairygold's positive future event in Corrin Event Centre on Friday 19 January.

Kavanagh went on to tell Dairygold farmer suppliers in the room on Friday to view the NDC as the 'bridge' between what they are doing inside the farm gate and the recognition in court of public opinion.

Production and product

The two aspects of the Irish dairy sector which need a public dialogue, Kavanagh said, are production and product, which she described as being "intrinsically linked".

In terms of milk production, consumers want to know that producers are doing for the environment, the climate and to improve animal welfare.

On the product side, it is about taste, health promotion and being part of a health solution from a consumer's point of view.


She explained how in 2023, 70% of consumers said they trust Irish dairy farmers to care for the environment. This, she said, is an increase of 23% from 2023.

Kavanagh announced in December that she will be leaving her role as CEO of the NDC to take up a new role as CEO of Repak, leading the recycling and sustainability of Ireland’s packaging.