The Irish weather wasn’t enough to keep more than 760 attendees away from Alltech’s Global 500, which opened today in Dublin, Ireland. People came from 50 different countries, spanning all six continents, to learn about the future of beef and dairy production, specifically how to remain profitable while increasing efficiency and sustainability.

The largest groups, featuring over 50 delegates each, travelled from the USA, Italy and the UK, with the next largest hailing from France, Spain and Canada. The Netherlands, Brazil, Russia and Croatia also came in droves. Attendees represented an estimated five million cattle and had the opportunity to meet peers from around the world engaging in dialogue about the mind-boggling array of farming systems globally.

Day one’s presentations kicked off with Alltech president and founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons, introducing Alltech’s strategy for the future of dairy and beef production – an efficient, profitable and sustainable future. “No company has a monopoly on information,” he declared, “we are all here to learn.”

His message overall was positive, stressing that growth is something that can be achieved if we act now. “Opportunities abound for agriculture moving forward, but farmers must act within the lifetime of this opportunity,” Dr. Pearse Lyons said. “Dairy and beef producers can look forward to an incredibly bright future, but it is one that will be wholly determined by the implementation of new technologies and new ideas, all geared to ramp up on-farm efficiency levels.”

Dr. Mark Lyons, vice president of Alltech, spoke about the opportunities and challenges faced by beef and dairy producers in China. There are more than 300 million Chinese people moving to urban areas; 70 percent of people in China will live in cities by 2030. As a result, meat and milk consumption could increase another 50 percent. They consume four times more dairy products than the ones living in villages. They are also health conscious consumers who demand traceable and safe food. Chinese customers prefer imported milk products to domestic ones due to the numerous food safety scandals in the Chinese marketplace.

“Safe and traceable food is more important than ever and Chinese social media has been playing a vital role in the shifting consumer landscape. In order to keep up with the increased demand for higher quality dairy products, Chinese dairy companies will need to increase their production efficiency,” said Dr. Mark Lyons.

Bill Cordingley from Rabobank also had a lot to say about both the dairy and beef industries, providing a big picture view. He explained that developing countries will experience the greatest increase in market growth in relation to milk production, but that that growth is disproportionate to the demand. His advice was to invest in and improve sectors like manufacturing to increase production and ensure the product meets international regulations and standards. He stressed the importance of a proper supply chain that is whole, traceable, trusted, designed especially for the product, and above all safe.

In terms of beef he explained that the industry is a much more mature industry than dairy. It’s now moving from being product-driven to market-driven – the consumer has to have a good experience with a product to guarantee that they will come back.

“So how do you create that premium position? Increasingly it’s about competitiveness and it’s about grain,” Cordingley said. “Consumer issues and demands aside, cost is a major issue. The industry is based on what it costs to grow an animal.”

For the future he echoed Dr. Mark Lyons’ sentiments in stressing the importance of China as a new market. He discussed how the Chinese consumer is more sensitive about what they are eating and that they want safe produce. According to Cordingley, other areas to watch were Japan joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, the EU-US Free Trade Agreement, the evolution of Russia joining the WTO and the Brazil Trade Agreement with the EU.


Dr. Pearse Lyons and Dr. Mark Lyons speaking at Alltech’s Global 500 in Dublin, Ireland.