Welcoming the world to Korea
Daejeon in South Korea is the location for the International Dairy Federation’s World Dairy Summit. The yearly event promises to offer more information on the dairy industry, no matter how far up and down the supply chain a person is. Chair of the IDF WDS 2018 organising committee Lee Chang-Buhm explained what preparations are being made to Dairy Industries International.Q. How has the Korean dairy market grown over the past several years?The Korean dairy industry has developed into the modern dairy industry through fast-growing growth for 50 years since it was started as a commercial dairy business in the 1960s. In recent years, Korea has grown into a leading dairy country in the East Asia region with a variety of dairy products, R&D and world-class milk quality. The reasons for this rapid growth are, first, great effort of people who work in the dairy industry, secondly, the resilience of Korean people and Korean society, who have developed into one of 10 most powerful economies in the world after the Korean War. Third, there has been the implementation of strong promotional policies for the Korean dairy industry with detailed governmental administrative guidance. Lastly, there has been warm support from advanced dairy farming countries such as Germany and Denmark. Also, we have earned a strong sense of confidence from experiences including the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 2002 World Cup, which were held on the basis of economic growth – this has become a key asset for the dairy industry.Q. What do you see as the biggest issue for the Korean dairy market? The farmgate milk prices in major dairy countries are determined by the supply and demand balance of the dairy market. However, the farmgate milk price of Korea is guaranteed above production costs regardless of market conditions, because of the long-standing implementation of a raw milk production management policy. It is an abnormal situation that occurred in the course of promoting milk production to meet the increased demand for dairy products. It can be affirmative for some of the producers – however, the stability of the milk price is not a positive sign for a sustainable future of the industries, obviously. Furthermore, it can be a risk for the market when we consider the circumstances of opening markets to the world due to free trade agreements (FTAs). As the Korean dairy experts continue discussions to address this challenge, we expect to see positive results soon.Q. What do you hope will be the biggest area of expansion for the dairy market?As a global trend, Korean consumers are showing a strong interest in high quality milk products such as cheese, butter, healthy fermented milk products and dairy ingredients, rather than liquid milk products. In particular, the needs for healthy dairy products are steadily growing due to the increase of income and westernised dietary patterns. As mentioned, however, the increased demand for the sector is mainly met with imports as Korean milk prices are more than twice the global price, and the market is opened to the world due to FTAs. As a result, the self-sufficiency rate of Korean dairy products fell to 50 per cent at the end of last year. Currently, the Korean dairy industry is struggling to prepare strategies for market expansion and promoting liquid milk consumption. However, there continue to be a few obstacles, such as low price competitiveness and imported dairy products.Q. How will the joint hosting of the Winter Olympics and the World Dairy Summit help promote South Korea?Korea has inherited the oriental tradition of being courteous, and so it is famous for its hospitality with its guests. In particular, Korean dairy families are so excited to welcome our guests from all over the world, as the both Winter Olympics and IDF World Dairy Summit will be held in Korea this year. Also, Korea is now being considered as a cultural powerhouse beyond Asia, based on its K-pop culture, films and performances that are creating a global sensation. In addition, it has a great infrastructure and the knowhow to be regarded as one of the world’s top three powers when it comes to hosting international events. Therefore, we are pleased to prepare the Winter Olympics and IDF WDS and are confident that all participants can enjoy the essence of our 5,000-year-old history and Korean culture, such as traditional cuisine. Also, we will do our best to prepare for the event as a great opportunity to build a bridge between Asian and western countries. As I mentioned in Belfast, Northern Ireland last year, we will make this year’s event, IDF WDS 2018, the most memorable and successful event in the IDF’s 100-year history.Q. What can attendees look forward to at the summit?As shown by the main theme “Dairy for the next generation!”, the 2018 IDF WDS will provide a platform to discuss sustainable dairy industries for the future generation. First of all, the opening ceremony will feature a keynote speech by former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon on sustainable development and the agenda during his 10-year stint at the UN, and will provide insight into the dairy industry in the coming decade. During the various social activities such as the opening ceremony, gala dinner and social tours with performances covering eastern and western cultures, all participants will experience cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art facilities of our world-leading IT country, Korea. Korea’s leading dairy companies are committed to co-operation and support, so you can expect high quality and variety from IDF WDS Daejeon 2018.Q. What about the Korean Peninsula situation?I would like to say that you don’t have to worry about North Korea’s threats anymore. South Korea is a global community with more than two million foreigners living together, and they are comfortable with Korean society. According to a recent report, North Korea has shown responsible behaviour as one of the global community, and is participating in the Winter Olympics. I have been living in South Korea for more than six decades and, I can assure you, even with my experience as a high-ranking official for more than 30 years, North Korea’s threat has always been rhetorical. And let me emphasise that Korea is the safest country in the world, along with Japan, in terms of social security. I will be very pleased to be with you, world dairy communities, during 15-19 October, which is the most beautiful season in Korea. I look forward to welcoming all of you.