The UK dairy sector, in partnership with Government, has announced a new joint-funded campaign to highlight the importance of ‘human connections’ during the current coronavirus crisis.

The £1 million promotional campaign taps into the need for personal moments during lockdown – highlighting the role fresh milk and dairy plays in these challenging times.

AHDB and Dairy UK are joining forces and are  working with Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on the 12-week campaign, which goes live next week.

It will be funded through a combination of £500,000 from the UK Governments, £300,000 from Dairy UK members and £200,000 from AHDB.

The campaign will appear on social media, digital and, for the first time in over a decade, on television. It’s expected that retailers, processors and farmers will come together to support the campaign.

It will also provide much needed support to both dairy processors and dairy farmers, who are currently facing difficulties as a result of coronavirus and the closure of cafes and other foodservice outlets.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we want to support them however we can at this challenging time.

“We know the closure of restaurants and food outlets has meant many producers have excess milk that might otherwise go to waste. That’s why we are backing this campaign to drive milk consumption and boost sales.

“We have already relaxed competition rules so dairy farmers can work more closely together on the challenges they are facing, and will continue to support them through this difficult period.”

“Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we want to support them however we can at this challenging time.”

Christine Watts, AHDB’s chief marketing officer, said: “This is a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when industry and government join together to meet a common challenge.

“We know that consumers love milk and the great taste of dairy, but because it’s such an integral part of our lives, consumers tend to take it for granted – in the same way we all tend to take our day to day relationships as a given.

“AHDB has been delivering a strong focus on the reputation of dairy for the last three years and this campaign will further deliver on the great work we have already begun.”

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK added: “We’re delighted to be working alongside AHDB and the UK Governments to promote dairy products.

“Everyday moments of human connection are especially important during this crisis. With this campaign we want to highlight the central and sometimes forgotten role that dairy plays as part of our everyday lives. We want to remind people of the importance of taking a moment to connect with each other while enjoying the foods they love, even if it is remotely. We can still take a moment for ourselves and others in these most challenging of times and we can still enjoy nutritious dairy.”

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The efforts of the farming sector to keep Scotland fed in these unprecedented times has been truly astonishing.

“With the sudden closure of cafes and restaurants, some dairy farmers and producers have lost their market and are struggling.

“That is why I am delighted that the Scottish Government is contributing to this campaign to support dairy farming. I would encourage everyone in Scotland who can take part to support local farming and food production.”

Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “The dairy sector has felt an immediate impact from the closure of the food services sector and the accompanying drop in demand for milk.

“It is so important we support our dairy farmers during this difficult time. I am pleased to work with governments across the UK and with the industry on this new marketing campaign to boost consumer demand for our great Welsh produce.

“During these challenging times it is vital we work closely with governments across the UK and use the powers available to us to protect the supply chain and mitigate against the severe disruption this crisis is causing to our producers and processors.”

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA added: “COVID-19 has been very challenging for our agriculture sector and, in particular, our dedicated and hardworking dairy farmers who are facing the brunt of the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“However, the crisis we find ourselves in has highlighted just how important and vital our food chain is and all the food heroes who work in it day and night to get food on our tables. We must do all we can to support them and ensure the sector is sustainable and profitable in the long term. As a champion of our local food supply chain, I encourage everyone to buy local and support your local dairy farmers by drinking milk.”