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Stakeholders voice priorities during nutrition conference

September 30, 2022

WASHINGTON — This week, for the first time in more than 50 years, stakeholders convened for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. President Biden says the important conference underscores his administration’s commitment to a national strategy on ending hunger and healthier eating that will build on the research and knowledge available to make America a stronger, healthier nation.

“With this gathering of elected officials; advocates and activists; and leaders of business, faith and philanthropy from across America, we are mobilizing the will to meet a bold goal: to end hunger in America and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases,” Biden says.

In conjunction with the conference, the administration this week released its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, which it says will serve as the playbook to meet this vital goal. The strategy calls for a whole-of- government and whole-of-America approach to addressing challenges.

“When families can’t afford healthy food options, it’s harder for children to succeed in school, and it can lead to mental and physical health challenges for the whole family. For so many families — including families of color, those living in rural communities and territories, and low-income families — structural inequality, such as disparities in educational and economic opportunities and lack of access to health care, safe housing and transportation, make the impact of hunger and diet-related diseases even more severe. The pandemic made these problems worse, reinforcing the need for urgent, sustained action,” Biden says.

According to the strategy’s executive summary, while it’s been more than 50 years since the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, the United States has yet to end hunger and is facing an urgent, nutrition-related health crisis — the rising prevalence of diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and certain cancers.

The consequences of food insecurity and diet-related diseases are significant, far reaching, and disproportionately impact historically underserved communities, the summary says. Yet, food insecurity and diet-related diseases are largely preventable if stakeholders prioritize the health of the nation, it adds.

Transformative programs, policies and system changes are needed within and outside government to achieve this vision, it continues. To advance the president’s goal — and build on the federal government’s existing work to address hunger and diet-related diseases — the strategy identifies ambitious and achievable actions the Biden-Harris administration will pursue across five pillars:

• Improving food access and affordability, including by advancing economic security; increasing access to free and nourishing school meals; providing Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits to more children; and expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to more underserved populations;

• Integrating nutrition and health, including by working with Congress to pilot coverage of medically tailored meals in Medicare; testing Medicaid coverage of nutrition education and other nutrition supports using Medicaid section 1115 demonstration projects; and expanding Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries’ access to nutrition and obesity counseling;

• Empowering all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices, including by proposing to develop a front-of-package labeling scheme for food packages; proposing to update the nutrition criteria for the “healthy” claim on food packages; expanding incentives for fruits and vegetables in SNAP; facilitating sodium reduction in the food supply by issuing longer-term, voluntary sodium targets for industry; and assessing additional steps to reduce added sugar consumption, including potential voluntary targets;

• Supporting physical activity for all, including by expanding the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program to all states and territories, investing in efforts to connect people to parks and other outdoor spaces, and funding regular updates to and promotion of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; and

• Enhancing nutrition and food security research, including by bolstering funding to improve metrics, data collection and research to inform nutrition and food security policy, particularly on issues of equity and access; and implementing a vision for advancing nutrition science.

“The federal government cannot end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases alone. The private sector; state, Tribal, local and territory governments; academia; and nonprofit and community groups must act as well,” the summary concludes. “This strategy details calls to action for all these entities to do their part. Taken together, these collective efforts will make a difference and move us closer to achieving the 2030 goal.”

Following the conference, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), who was invited to attend, says ensuring people have access to the nutrition they need to live, develop and be healthy is a key priority for dairy farmers across the United States.

“We are hopeful (this conference) will serve as a launching pad for the dedication and collaboration we will need to end food insecurity and reduce diet-related disease in the U.S., goals NMPF shares with the conference,” Mulhern says.

“We know from decades of working in this area that dairy products — and the 13 essential nutrients they provide such as protein, calcium, Vitamin D and potassium — will be vital ingredients to meeting these goals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) shows that dietary patterns that include dairy are associated with beneficial health outcomes, such as lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The guidelines also note that dairy is under-consumed across all age categories. Scientific evidence clearly indicates that milk and dairy foods are part of the solution to challenges like food and nutrition insecurity, health equity, and diet-related and other noncommunicable diseases,” he adds.

To prepare for the conference, NMPF worked with other agricultural, anti-hunger, nutrition and medical groups to urge the White House to place a high priority on access to affordable, diverse and healthful foods, which includes protecting Americans’ ability to make informed, meaningful choices about what they eat, Mulhern notes.

“NMPF is pleased to see in the White House’s strategy released (this week) a commitment to increased access to affordable food for all and culturally appropriate food options and recommendations,” he says. “We are also heartened by the strategy’s consistent emphasis on increasing consumption of healthful foods to levels recommended in the dietary guidelines. NMPF looks forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders inside and outside government to improve nutrition security and diet-related health for all Americans. Together we can realize the policies and programs required to achieve these important goals, including increasing access to affordable food and strengthening Americans’ ability to make informed, meaningful choices across all populations.”

Prior to the conference, 17 food industry groups including the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Consumer Brands Association (CBA) and FMI-the Food Industry Association issued a report underscoring stakeholders’ priorities and recommendations.

“As representatives of growers, manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants in the food industry, we fully support the goals of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health to improve national nutrition-related health outcomes and increase food access for underserved communities,” said the groups upon release of the recommendations. “As food security and nutrition-centric health empowerment are perennial challenges for the country, the food industry recognizes there is ongoing need for private sector engagement and collaboration through industry-led efforts with the Biden-Harris administration, federal government, public advocates, academia and other stakeholders. That is why the food industry commits to work together with these stakeholders to develop solutions for ending hunger, improving nutrition and reducing diet-related diseases in America.”

The groups’ recommendations summarize the ways in which the food industry serves as a solution provider to support Americans in meeting their dietary needs and health goals. The report also details the groups’ collective contributions to and policy recommendations for the White House Conference.

“While the industry has an important role to play, it can’t solve the nation’s food issues alone. The report demonstrates how our industry is rallying behind a priority set of recommended government actions, which we call Food Industry Defined Government Actions to Address Hunger, Nutrition and Health, organized around the White House Conference Pillars 1-3 and 5,” the groups say, noting that, for example, under Pillar 3: Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices, the groups recommend that the federal government incentivize and promote participation in government-led and/or private-sector led voluntary initiatives that aim to increase access to healthy foods.

Additionally, under Pillar 1: Improve food access and affordability, the groups recommend that the federal government work with the food industry to increase food access points in communities.

Furthermore, to spur meaningful dialogue at the White House Conference and to demonstrate recognition of collective industry responsibility, the report offers a set of industry commitments that are separate and apart from individual company and organizational commitments, the groups say, noting that jointly they will:

• Continue to maintain and improve the resiliency and accessibility of the U.S. food supply.

• Continue to innovate and renovate to expand the nutritional quality of food and beverages in the marketplace.

• Continue to forge public-private partnerships, leveraging best practices in communications and marketing, to educate consumers on the interconnectedness of health and nutrition, and provide guidance on healthy food and beverage choices.

• Review and understand the National Strategy, and then work with the White House to define and operationalize activities with measurable outcomes in service of the National Strategy.

• In collaboration with the federal government, address challenges and barriers to the successful execution of the National Strategy and to improve hunger, nutrition and health in the United States.

• In collaboration with the federal government, define, prioritize, and identify areas for industry contributions to a national nutrition and food security research agenda that supports White House conference goals.

To read the full report, visit www.fmi.org/docs/default-source/communications-uploads/whc--food-industry-contributions-recommendations-and-commitments-september-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=3fd19415_2.

CMN


FDA proposes updated criteria for foods using ‘healthy’ claim

September 30 2022

WASHINGTON — FDA this week proposed updated criteria for when foods can be labeled with the nutrient content claim “healthy” on their packaging. This proposed rule would align the definition of the “healthy” claim with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).

FDA notes that more than 80% of people in the United States aren’t eating enough vegetables, fruit and dairy, while most people consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. The proposed rule comes on the heels of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health (see lead story in this issue), as well as the release of the related national strategy, which aims to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related diseases and close disparity gaps by 2030.

“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” says U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”

The proposed rule would update the “healthy” claim definition to better account for how all the nutrients in various food groups contribute and may work synergistically to create healthy dietary patterns and improve health. Under the proposed definition for the updated “healthy” claim, which is based on current nutrition science, more foods that are part of a healthy dietary pattern and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines would be eligible to use the claim on their labeling, including nuts and seeds, higher-fat fish such as salmon, certain oils and water.

“Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups,” says FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “(This week’s) action is an important step toward accomplishing a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early. It can also result in a healthier food supply.”

FDA also is in the process of studying and exploring the development of a symbol manufacturers could use to show their product meets the “healthy” claim criteria.

Under the proposed definition, in order to be labeled with the “healthy” claim on food packaging, the products would need to:

• Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines; and

• Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

Joseph Scimeca, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), notes that more than five years ago, IDFA encouraged FDA to set criteria for a “healthy” claim, specifically for the dairy food category, that took into consideration the full nutrient profile and dietary contributions of dairy. He adds that IDFA believes it is essential that the voluntary, proposed rule must clearly establish criteria for dairy products that encourage the consumption of dairy foods while also helping consumers select the options that meet their health, taste and lifestyle needs.

“While the proposed rule takes some positive steps toward encouraging consumption of dairy products to help Americans meet the recommendations of the 2020-2025 DGAs, it falls short in many other important areas by limiting how dairy labels communicate the full nutritional benefits of dairy to consumers,” Scimeca says.

The current regulatory definition for a “healthy” claim does not consider the unique nutrient contributions of dairy products but does set different nutrient levels for fruits and vegetables, meat products, seafood and certain grain products, Scimeca notes. The rule proposed this week does include dairy as a recommended food group consistent with the DGAs and sets criteria that a “healthy” claim on dairy also must meet limits for saturated fats, sodium and added sugars. The proposed rule sets criteria to require a product to contain the equivalent of at least a three-quarters cup serving of dairy product to bear a “healthy” claim, which Scimeca says is a positive step toward encouraging consumption. However, he says the rule ignores that dairy is a crucial part of a healthy diet beginning at a very young age, and it ignores a fundamental tenant of nutrition guidance: “A food must be consumed in order for it to have any nutritional and health benefit.”

Scimeca compares specifics of the proposed rule with criteria for dairy products, compared to what IDFA has proposed:

• Total Fat: IDFA encouraged no limit on total fat. The proposed rule also sets no limit on total fats, aligning with IDFA’s view.

• Milk Fat: IDFA encouraged no limit on saturated fat when the source of saturated fat is milk fat. As the proposed rule notes, “Current nutrition science supports a view that the type of fat is more relevant than overall total fat intake in risk of chronic diseases.” The proposed rule sets a requirement for dairy products to contain no more than the 10% DV of saturated fat per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). This level should permit all lowfat, fat-free dairy products to qualify for the claim, as recommended by IDFA. However, Scimeca claims that the proposed rule would prohibit many nutritious dairy products from carrying a “healthy” claim. IDFA encourages FDA to revisit this portion of the rule to recognize the benefits of dairy at each fat level.

• Added Sugars: IDFA believes flavored milk should be less than 13 grams of added sugar per 8-fluid-ounce serving, and flavored yogurt should be less than 23 grams of total sugar per 6-ounce serving. The proposed rule sets a limit of 5% DV of added sugar per RACC, which would be the equivalent of 2.5 grams of added sugar per serving. IDFA encourages FDA to revisit this portion of the rule to recognize the benefits of moderate levels of added sugar to increase consumption of nutrient-dense, healthy foods, including dairy.

“Here, the proposed rule would prohibit a number of nutrient-dense dairy products,” Scimeca says. “Moderate levels of added sugars in dairy products increase palatability, thereby encouraging Americans to consume these nutrient-dense foods.”

• Sodium: The proposed rule did acknowledge the important functional and food safety uses of salt in cheese but kept the sodium limit for dairy at 10% DV, similar to other food categories. IDFA believes a “healthy” claim should reflect an understanding that salt plays a crucial role in the manufacture and ripening of natural and processed cheeses and impacts overall product functionality, integrity, safety and quality. IDFA encourages FDA to revisit this portion of the rule to recognize that cheese is the second-highest source of calcium yet contributes less than 4% of the DV of sodium to the diet.

• Calcium, Protein, Vitamin A: The proposed rule does not include any nutrients that must be present in a food to quality for a “healthy” claim, and FDA explains that positive nutrient contributions of foods and beverages would be included by requiring a product to meet certain amounts of food groups recommended under the DGAs. IDFA believes a dairy food offering a good source of calcium, protein and/or vitamin A could bear the “healthy” claim.
Truthful and Not Misleading: IDFA believes that use of the term “healthy” should be permitted, independent of the defined claim, as long as its use is truthful and not misleading and is in line with current dietary guidance, such as that found in the DGAs. The proposed rule agrees and clarifies that the criteria for the “healthy” claim would only apply when the word “healthy” is used as part of a nutritional context.

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Congress passes bill reducing tariffs to help formula supply

September 30, 2022

WASHINGTON — Congress this week passed the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act (H.R. 8982), bipartisan legislation designed to boost domestic baby formula production in an effort to get more product on shelves amid the continued shortage across the country. The bill temporarily lifts tariffs on safe imported “base powder,” a key component with essential proteins, fats and carbohydrates that is mixed with nutrients and other ingredients to make the formula that parents buy on store shelves or online. Current tariffs on base powder are 13.6% + $1.035 per kilogram.

The tariffs would be lifted through the end of the year, and the bill would cap the amount of base powder entering duty-free at 2,600 metric tons.

The bill was introduced Monday by House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Member Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Ranking Member Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Members John B. Larson, D-Conn., Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Drew Ferguson, R-Ga. The House unanimously approved the legislation by voice vote yesterday afternoon. Earlier yesterday, the bill passed the Senate unanimously. It now goes to President Biden for his signature.

“The passage of this legislation (yesterday) is a huge win for families and will be a powerful tool in addressing the ongoing baby formula shortage. This measure, combined with the Formula Act that Congress approved in July, will help get more safe, affordable formula on store shelves and increase domestic production capacity,” say DelBene, Blumenauer, Smith, Larson, Kildee and Ferguson. “We thank our colleagues in the House and Senate for their overwhelming bipartisan support on this measure.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in a statement released yesterday says it has not opposed the temporary, short-term lifting of restrictions on infant formula imports and did not oppose the legislation just passed this week given its targeted volume and limited time frame, noting these guardrails are necessary to ensure that imports temporarily complement U.S. supplies rather than displace existing available dairy formula ingredients.

“NMPF emphatically opposes efforts that would create long-term dependence on foreign suppliers for a critical nutritional food. The focus must be to develop additional production in the United States necessary to ensure that this crisis isn’t repeated,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, only a robust domestic supply chain, with American workers and U.S. sources of production, can best protect families against potentially tragic disruptions of critically needed products.”

NMPF also opposes giving foreign companies regulatory advantages that domestic producers don’t have, Mulhern says.

“Overseas milk production that doesn’t meet the same stringent regulations met by our own producers shouldn’t be allowed into the United States under any but the most extreme circumstances, such as the immediate shortfalls that we see now but expect will soon be alleviated by domestic supplies resuming their typical production levels,” he says.

“The most meaningful step the U.S. government can take to shore up domestic formula supplies would be to analyze what policy and regulatory reforms are needed to enable the U.S. to expand infant formula production in the country to ensure ample supplies for the domestic market as well as to become a net exporter of infant formula,” Mulhern adds. “That retains the strongest degree of domestic control — and thus security — over needed supplies of this critical, life-saving product.”

CMN



Crave Brothers celebrates 20 years of sustainable, award-winning cheese

WATERLOO, Wis. — Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese team was named Grand Master Cheesemaker for the first time for its Chocolate Mascarpone at this year’s Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Products Contest and Auction, adding another title to a long line of honors both for this product and for the family owned business.

“You never expect to win overall champion of a competition,” says George Crave, head cheesemaker, founder and president of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese.

The creamy dessert cheese, however, was no dark horse in the competition, having been named Grand Champion Cheese overall at the 2021 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest and ranking in the Top 20 cheeses in 2019 at the American Cheese Society annual contest.

“It’s a well-awarded cheese,” says Debbie Crave, vice president of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese. “But there’s such great cheeses at the fair, especially favorites like washed rind. This was the first time we’ve ever been selected as a company (for the top prize) in the last 20 years.”

Chocolate Mascarpone doesn’t sit alone on the prize pedestal — other Crave Brothers cheeses consistently win awards at national and international competitions, such as the recent Best-in-Class honors for Yellow Cheddar Cheese Curds and Marinated Fresh Mozzarella at the 2022 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest, and first place for Fresh Mozzarella at the 2022 American Cheese Society competition.

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U.S. strengthens ties with SE Asia, discusses WTO reform

September 23, 2022

WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak earlier this week co-chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Ministers (AEM)-USTR Consultation, which was held on the margins of the 2022 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Ministers’ Meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The consultation was an opportunity to highlight the United States’ commitment to ASEAN and ongoing initiatives to strengthen multilateral trade relationships across Southeast Asia.

In a press briefing Monday, Tai noted “unprecedented cooperation” between the United States and ASEAN, which represents the fourth-largest market in the world.

“U.S. goods and services trade with ASEAN totaled nearly $442 billion in 2021, a 22% increase compared to the previous year,” she said, adding that the administration has announced $150 million in initiatives to deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations, including through clean energy infrastructure investments, upskilling programs, private sector grants and educational and cultural exchanges.

In a joint statement following Monday’s AEM-USTR Consultation, the trade ministers from both sides noted the continued strong rebound of economic relations between ASEAN member states and the United States from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and global instability. According to ASEAN’s statistics, total two-way merchandise trade reached $364 billion in 2021, an increase of 17.9% year-on-year, and the inflow of foreign direct investment from the United States into ASEAN was $40 billion, an increase of 41.1%.

However, the meeting also noted that the post-COVID-19 economic recovery remains vulnerable to adverse global and regional disruptions and expressed deep concerns on geopolitical tensions and continued risks to global food and energy security, supply chain disruptions and rising inflationary pressure.

Other highlights included:

• Discussion of possible ways and means to implement the U.S.-ASEAN Economic Futures as part of new initiatives to expand the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership launched by President Biden at the ninth U.S.-ASEAN Summit.

• Endorsement of activities planned under the 2022-2023 ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework arrangement and Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Work plan, welcoming areas of cooperating in the E3 Work Plan, including sustainable energy/green economy, good regulatory practices and others.

• While recognizing the need to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO) to improve all its functions, the meeting reiterated its support for a rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, fair, inclusive, equitable and transparent multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core.
WTO reform also was discussed Wednesday as Tai convened an informal dialogue with several G20 members about WTO dispute settlement reform on the margins of the G20 Trade, Investment and Industry Ministerial Meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

During the meeting, which also included representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and South Africa, Tai shared her view that fundamental reform of WTO dispute settlement must reflect the real interests of all WTO members, including members that have not traditionally turned to formal dispute settlement. She stressed that the ongoing reform conversation should continue to work toward a system that meets the needs of all members.

Tai identified the United States’ areas of interest and invited participants to offer views on possible improvements to dispute settlement, including how a reformed dispute settlement system can better help members resolve a dispute in an efficient and cost-effective manner. She also stated her interest in convening future meetings with ministers in different configurations to continue this dialogue. Earlier this year, the United States prevailed in a WTO dispute settlement panel over Canada’s allocation of dairy tariff rate quotas under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

In other trade developments, Tai and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo earlier this month hosted counterparts from 13 Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) partner countries — representing more than 40% of the global economy — at the first official in-person ministerial meeting. The ministers had positive and constructive discussions, and USTR notes they announced a substantial milestone in their pursuit of a high-standard and inclusive economic framework.

“This meeting was a chance to deepen our partnerships and fill in the details about how we will work collectively to address challenges and opportunities that will define the 21st century,” Tai says. “After several days of intensive discussions, we have made real progress toward that goal, and I am excited to continue developing this framework, which will unlock enormous economic value for our region and serve as a model for the rest of the world to follow.”

IPEF was welcomed by the U.S. dairy industry after it was launched in May, and the National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council noted the opportunity it offers to strengthen ties with key trading partners across the Asia-Pacific region. Partners in the IPEF include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

The partner countries have defined four main pillars for the agreement:

• Trade — IPEF partners will seek high-standard provisions in areas that are foundational to resilient, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, including labor, environment, digital economy, agriculture, transparency and good regulatory practices, competition, inclusivity, trade facilitation and technical assistance, and economic development.

• Supply Chain — The countries will seek to coordinate actions to mitigate and prevent future supply chain disruptions and secure critical sectors and key products for its manufacturers.

• Clean Energy — This pillar will seek to expand investment opportunities, spur innovation and improve the livelihoods of citizens as the partners unlock the region’s clean energy resources and substantial carbon sequestration potential.

• Fair Economy — IPEF members will seek to level the playing field for businesses and workers within partner countries by preventing and combatting corruption, curbing tax evasion and enhancing transparency. Through implementing anticorruption and tax measures, the countries will seek to improve the investment climate and boost flows of commerce, trade and investments among their economies while advancing a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

CMN


FDA releases internal review of formula crisis, plans changes

September 23, 2022

WASHINGTON — FDA this week released a report on an internal review of the agency’s actions related to multiple reports of Cronobacter illness in infants, Abbott’s infant formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, and other issues that led to this year’s infant formula shortage.

The review analyzed information collected from more than 40 interviews with more than 60 FDA staff and leadership directly involved with the events that transpired. Its focus is on aspects of the response that are in FDA’s purview, rather than supply chain and distribution issues.

According to Steven M. Solomon, director for the Center for Veterinary Medicine, who conducted the internal agency review, one key finding from the interviews is that there is no single action to explain the events that occurred; rather, the report identifies a “confluence of systemic vulnerabilities that demonstrate the need to focus on continued modernization and investment in the expertise and tools needed to better anticipate and address future public health challenges in this area.”

The report identified five major areas of need:

• Modern information technology that allows for the access and exchange of data in real time to all the people involved in response.

• Sufficient staffing, training, equipment and regulatory authorities to fulfill FDA’s mission.

• Updated emergency response systems that are capable of handling multiple public health emergencies occurring simultaneously.

• Increased scientific understanding about Cronobacter, its prevalence and natural habitat, and how this translates into appropriate control measures and oversight.

• Assessment of the infant formula industry, its preventive controls, food safety culture and preparedness to respond to events.

“This incident demonstrated the need for an integrated multidisciplinary approach that included scientific, clinical, nutritional, analytical and inspectional expertise; legal processes; supply chain and policy considerations; and resources to support this multidisciplinary work,” Solomon says.

He adds that the report also identifies several areas in which FDA lacks specific authorities and resources, and as the agency evaluates its workforce needs related to infant formula regulation and oversight, he recommends that it utilize the appropriations process to help secure the needed authorities and resources.

“As we implement these changes, we must ensure that they address the issues that led to the shortage of safe, wholesome food supply for our most vulnerable populations. This is one of our most important obligations,” he says.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a statement from CSPI President Peter Lurie on FDA’s internal report, noting that while the report is lacking some important detail, it suggests FDA has sincerely sought to learn from these events.

“Many of these recommendations will take years to implement, but this is a solid start,” Lurie says. “Primarily among these are resources for a dedicated staff at the food agency to monitor the supply chain of infant and specialty formulas and — although the report treads lightly here — the authority to require manufacturers to notify FDA of circumstances that could lead to a shortage. Congress should take these requests seriously, including by passing a pending bill re-authorizing user fees to the agency, which could provide FDA with additional tools to identify and address potential formula shortages.”

To read the full FDA report, visit www.fda.gov/media/161689/download. CMN

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August production rises 1.7% in major milk-producing states

September 23, 2022

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in August totaled 18.22 billion pounds, up 1.7% from August 2021, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, August milk production was estimated at 19.02 billion pounds, up 1.6% from August 2021. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

NASS reports July’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 18.38 billion pounds, an increase of 53 million pounds or 0.3% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

August production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 2,041 pounds, 37 pounds more than August 2021 and 19 pounds less than July. For the entire United States, production per cow in August is estimated at 2,018 pounds, up 34 pounds from August 2021 and down 20 pounds from July.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.93 million head in August, down 11,000 head from August 2021 and up 8,000 head from July. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.43 million milk cows in August, also 11,000 cows less than August 2021 and up 8,000 cows from July.

California led the nation’s milk production in August with 3.46 billion pounds of milk, up 2.0% from August 2021. Wisconsin followed with 2.73 billion pounds of milk produced in August, up 1.1% from August 2021.

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Panelists discuss consumer, global outlook for whey sector

September 16, 2022

CHICAGO — In an increasingly crowded product marketplace, experts say the dairy industry needs to educate consumers about the benefits of dairy proteins compared to alternative products.

This issue was discussed as well as the global outlook for the international whey sector during a session Monday at the American Dairy Products
Institute’s (ADPI) 10th International Whey Conference in Chicago.

The session, moderated by Kimberlee J. Burrington, director of training, education and technical development at ADPI, kicked off with a global perspective on the dairy sector presented by Tom Bailey, senior consumer foods analyst for Rabobank.
Bailey notes ongoing supply chain issues are driving inflation in the global dairy sector. He notes the landscape has shifted from a traditionally “just in time marketplace” to a “just in case” market following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking at a long-term outlook to 2030, Bailey says changing demographics in this time period in key markets will drive dairy demand and product mix.

In the United States, immigration is expected to account for 8 million in population gains during the projection period to 2030. The fluid milk category is expected to stabilize, while the functional nutrition category, largely comprising extended-shelf-life (ESL) and UHT milk, is expected to grow. Bailey notes there is an expected acceleration in large-scale dairy operations (those with more than 10,000 cows) driven by the economies of scale in the production of credits for eco-system marketplaces (carbon/water/soil amendments).

In China, changing consumer demographics are expected to lead to rising per capita dairy consumption from expanded choices (cheese/butterfat) to more personal nutrition (nutrient-dense dairy products) for an aging population. While China will grow its domestic milk supply, it will remain the largest global dairy importer.

In Brazil, the less-than-20-years-old bracket is expected to decline by 5 million each decade (2000-2050), reflecting a loss in the key consumption age bracket. The aging population will require a new market focus. However, South America has abundant natural resources to produce more milk and potentially become a more significant global market player.

Meanwhile, Mexico, the second-largest global dairy importer, also is showing a decline in the under-20 age bracket. Growth is projected in key working age brackets, supporting rising consumption.

Despite that same under-20 decline in India, the nation is projected to have more than 1 billion people under 50 by 2030, driving per capita consumption. Similar statistics and consumption growth is projected for Indonesia over the same time period.

The European Union (EU) will be a key market for dairy products that provide health and wellness benefits to aging consumers. EU milk production and the exportable surplus will increase modestly.

Additional session participants including David Lenzmeier, CEO of Milk Specialties Global; Yann Connan, vice president of sales for Lactalis; Richard Bradfield, CEO of International Ingredient Corp.; and Billie Shaffer, vice president of strategic management, Glanbia Nutritionals, then gave an overview of their companies before participating in a panel discussion about current and future challenges and opportunities for dairy ingredients.

In his presentation, Lenzmeier noted Milk Specialties Global’s recent multimillion-dollar investment at its Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, facility to enter the lactoferrin market. Lactoferrin is a unique protein fraction that occurs naturally in whey protein. It comprises only a tiny portion of the overall whey protein but offers powerful health benefits when concentrated.

Lenzmeier notes there is a growing body of research around the benefits of concentrated lactoferrin for all life stages including enhanced immune system support, promotion of “good” prebiotic bacteria for positive gut health and improved iron status. Recent studies have brought lactoferrin’s antiviral properties to the forefront.

Lactoferrin is part of Milk Specialties’ NutriPRO family of products and comes in a wide range of concentration options — from 0.15% purity up to 95% purity. Along with being a core ingredient in infant formula, lactoferrin is ideally suited for health supplements, medical nutrition products, ready-to-mix drinks and functional foods, Lenzmeier says.

He adds that it’s exciting to see the expanded applications for whey proteins, especially when looking back to what the industry was talking about at this conference 20 years ago versus today.

Additionally, panelists discussed future opportunities for whey permeate — also called dairy product solids, deproteinized whey or modified whey. Whey permeate is a coproduct of the production of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, and has good solubility and a pleasant dairy flavor, making it formulator-friendly. Delactosed permeate is a coproduct created by removing lactose from permeate. It contains about three times as much mineral content as permeate and about 60% lactose versus 80% for permeate. The higher concentration of calcium, potassium and magnesium in delactosed permeate can enhance the nutritional profile of many foods.

Connan says the dairy industry needs to look at opportunities for permeate.

“Whey prices have been up recently, so permeate is key to transition from whey powder,” he says, noting inroads are being made in export markets where other nations are more open to trying it.

Bradfield, whose company focuses on animal and pet food nutrition through specialty feed ingredients, says highlighting the science behind dairy proteins like permeate is key.

“Even as a more expensive ingredient, the value is there,” he says. “There is an economic benefit for daily performance.”

Another challenge is competitive alternative protein products in the marketplace. Shaffer says there’s still a gap in the U.S. market in educating mainstream consumers about the value in dairy proteins.

“We really need to work on connecting the ‘why’ for choosing dairy proteins to the consumer set,” she says.

Bradfield notes the pet food industry is even less familiar with the benefits or inclusion of dairy proteins, but he believes they can certainly play a role in segmented lifestyles of pets, such as aging.

Connan says it may help to focus on the local aspect of dairy proteins when it comes to sourcing, and spotlighting the dairy farmer.
“When you look at export markets, there’s nothing that can beat dairy today,” he adds.

“ Take a look at bioactives and what makes up a milk protein. It’s hard to compete with,” adds Lenzmeier. “We need to deliver a message on the depth and strength of the quality of dairy protein — and the sustainability advancements and goals.”

Shaffer says the opportunities are endless for the dairy sector as it helps consumers to understand that whey-based ingredients offer excellent nutrition.

“I also feel specifically in the U.S. market, we lead in active lifestyle nutrition,” she adds. “We do have some challenges ahead and will figure out how resilient our market is. But we are valorizing whey in a very good way that benefits all of us.”

ADPI also has an existing initiative, The Strong Inside, to spread the message on the benefits of dairy proteins. More than 55 companies, trade associations and the press created The Strong Inside campaign to help consumers sort through all the myths and fiction with one focus: how they can benefit from dairy proteins.

This year, the campaign refreshed its vision, goals and digital strategies and is using new tactics like lead generation and traffic ads on high-profile platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The campaign also is utilizing key influencers to use their authentic voices to broadcast the message of dairy protein and connect with new audiences to influence purchasing decisions.

For more information, visit www.thestronginside.com/about-dpmi.

CMN


USDA awards funding to 70 climate-smart partnerships

September 16, 2022

WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that the Biden-Harris administration through USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Projects from the second funding pool will be announced later this year.

Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals in the first funding pool, and the strength of the projects identified led USDA to increase its investment in this opportunity from the initial $1 billion Vilsack announced earlier this year.

Ultimately, USDA’s anticipated investment will triple to more than $3 billion in pilots that will create market opportunities for U.S. commodities produced using climate-smart production practices. These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefit of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.

“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way,” Vilsack says. “This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. in two pools. Projects announced this week are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million.

One of the projects announced among the first pool of recipients is Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, which will receive up to $50 million from USDA for a broad climate-smart initiative. Edge will spearhead a multi-partner project aimed at expanding climate-smart markets and establishing dairy and sugar as climate-smart commodities.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Edge to further empower our members as they adapt to an evolving marketplace, one that increasingly demands sustainably produced food,” says Brody Stapel, president of Edge. “Over the past seven years, we and our partners have built a nationally recognized model for high-impact, tailored agricultural sustainability projects, and we have proven its success in a network of farmer-led conservation groups. Now, we will be able to greatly expand these efforts, connecting more farmers with tools to implement and measure climate-smart practices and better positioning their businesses for long-term success. We are grateful to be chosen for the funding, and we are excited about what more we can accomplish.”

A number of other projects involving dairy also were among the 70 selected in this first pool of investments. Through the Scaling Methane Emissions Reductions and Soil Carbon Sequestration project, which will receive up to $45 million from USDA, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) climate-smart pilots will directly connect on-farm greenhouse gas reductions with the low-carbon dairy market opportunity. DFA will use its cooperative business model to ensure that the collective financial benefits are captured at the farm, creating an opportunity to establish a self-sustaining circular economy model benefiting U.S. agriculture, including underserved producers.

Other selected projects including dairy involve Land O’Lakes, California Dairies Inc., California Dairy Research Foundation, CROPP/Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery and the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, as well as various universities and state or local ag organizations across the country.

National dairy groups have applauded the announcement of these climate-smart partnerships and funding.

“Approximately $700 million of the more than $3 billion committed (this week) by USDA to voluntary, incentive-based efforts will support climate and conservation projects in dairy and dairy-related businesses, catapulting the United States into a position of global leadership in climate-smart food and agricultural production,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.

“The U.S. dairy industry has taken real and measurable actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions both at the manufacturing and farm levels,” Dykes adds. “As a result, the dairy sector has become increasingly known as having the capacity to reliably reduce and remove GHG from the atmosphere while providing valuable and necessary food products. We believe dairy as part of the broader agriculture and forestry sectors is a central part of the solution to the climate crisis, and many dairy companies are working closely with their farmer suppliers and in their own plants to set and meet ambitious goals and targets.”

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern praised its member cooperatives that were awarded funding, along with other dairy groups seeking to build a better future through climate-smart agriculture projects.

“America’s dairy community applauds USDA’s support for the robust efforts dairy farmers are leading to develop and implement climate-smart solutions that will benefit the entire food chain, from producer to consumer,” Mulhern says. “As an agricultural leader in sustainability, dairy farmers appreciate this funding that will help us meet our ambitious industrywide goals for net-zero emissions and optimized water use.”

For more information on Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, visit www.usda.gov/climate-solutions/climate-smart-commodities.

CMN


USDA lowers milk production forecasts for both 2022, 2023

September 16, 2022

WASHINGTON — USDA lowered its milk production forecasts for 2022 and 2023 from last month in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released this week. Milk cow numbers are reduced, reflecting the average July 2022 cow number in the recent Milk Production report, USDA notes. Slower growth in cow numbers is carried through late 2022 and is expected to carry into 2023, while output per cow is forecast to increase at a slightly more rapid pace in 2022.

USDA now forecasts 2022 milk production will reach 226.5 billion pounds, down 300 million pounds from last month’s estimate, and 2023 milk production will reach 228.8 million pounds, down 400 million pounds from last month.

Fat and skim-solids basis imports for 2022 and 2023 are raised, largely driven by recent trade data and higher expected imports of cheese throughout the forecast period. Exports for both years are raised on expectations of stronger whey, lactose and cheese exports, which are projected to be price competitive, USDA says.

For 2022, forecasts for butter prices and nonfat dry milk (NDM) are raised slightly on current price strength, but cheese and whey prices are unchanged.

Butter in 2022 is forecast to average $2.850 per pound, NDM $1.690, cheese $2.075 and whey $0.610.

Both Class III and Class IV prices are raised for 2022, reflecting changes in their component values. Class III is forecast to average $21.65 per hundredweight, and Class IV $24.45. The 2022 all milk price forecast is raised to $25.45 per hundredweight.

For 2023, forecasts for butter and NDM are raised to $2.385 and $1.505 per pound, respectively, on tighter supplies, while cheese is lowered slightly to $1.970 and whey is unchanged at $0.485.

The Class III price for 2023 is unchanged at $19.70 per hundredweight while the Class IV price forecast is raised to $20.85. The 2023 all milk price is raised to $22.70 per hundredweight.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
October 4, 2022


Barrels: $2.2275 (+1 3/4)
Blocks: $2.0000 (NC)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total July
1.158 bil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total Aug.
19.020 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Cooperative spirit promotes progress

Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation

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