Attendees headed home after two fantastic days at Alltech’s flagship beef and dairy event, Global 500. The event broke numerous records this year, during its European debut, with more countries present than ever, a massive five million cattle represented, and a whopping 760 attendees. With the global dairy and beef industries facing numerous challenges recently, talks focused on increasing production efficiency, becoming more profitable and ensuring long-term sustainability; strategies to guarantee the industry’s bright future.

“Agriculture has many powerful positive stories to tell,” said Catherine Keogh, vice president and chief marketing officer at Alltech. She urged dairy farmers to use social media to tell their own stories.

“Many of today’s farmers are online, and they need to see how social media can be the game changer for the industry,” Keogh said. “This has become one of the most important channels for both consumers and producers to share thoughts and opinions within a matter of seconds. We must ensure our voices are heard.”

Damien McLoughlin, professor of marketing and associate dean at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, shared the incredible story of Chobani, a private Greek yogurt company, which has risen from zero to hero in the space of three years. The company was kick-started with an investment of $1 million in 2010, and by 2013, Chobani sales reached $2.68 billion within a competitive market dominated by global giants such as Danone and Nestlé. By creating a new product called Chobani Greek Yogurt, focusing on selling exclusively through major retailers, building brand purely by word-of-mouth and finding the right pricing strategy, Chobani owner Hamdi Ulukaya has managed to avoid competition and has generated phenomenal growth in a very short time.

“The dairy sector has many good cards to play,” said Dr. Patrick Wall, associate professor of public health in University College Dublin's School of Public Health and Population Sciences. “Farm to fork, however, is not a straight line anymore and finding the weak link in today’s highly complex food chain is a challenge for both regulators and producers.” Wall strongly believes that dairy farmers are, in fact in the human health business and advanced animal nutrition is key for a better human health.

“The dairy and beef farmers will have a bright future if they focus on three key words: efficiency, profitability and sustainability,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech founder and president, who encouraged the attendees to “dream, dare, desire, decide and dedicate,” for efficient, profitable and sustainable (EPS) farming.

To help farmers work toward this future, Alltech also launched the EPS (Efficiency, Profitability, Sustainability) program, which is designed to support farmers using a number of innovative and novel tools.

The Global 500 delegates were introduced to the unique Alltech Dairy ‘What If?’ Tool. This recently developed online software, part of the EPS program, can predict improvements in profitability and the associated reduction in environmental footprint within an individual dairy operation. During the conference, agri-environmental experts demonstrated how the Alltech Dairy ‘What If?’ Tool can be applied to any dairy operation to indicate what can be expected on any individual farm, instantly.

The Alltech Dairy ‘What If?’ Tool can then be followed by active on-farm assessments and state-of-the-art feed analysis using the new IFM (in-vitro fermentation model) system. These exclusive technologies will allow accurate predictions for methane mitigation and subsequent performance improvements expected through the efficient application of dietary management advice and appropriate Alltech Environmental Solutions nutritional technologies.

This tool will form part of an EPS trial taking place in more than 20 countries globally, the results of which will be presented at Global 500 2014 in Normandy, France. The Normandy region is the heart of the French ruminant industry – there are more than 580,000 dairy cows and more than a quarter of a million beef cattle in Normandy residing on 12,500 dairy farms and 5,800 beef units. An impressive 17,000 people are directly employed in agriculture in Normandy. During Global 500 2014 attendees will have the opportunity to tour many of the most efficient, profitable and sustainable farms in the region.

The 2014 Global 500 event will coincide with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games2014 – the world championships of eight equine disciplines. At the Games, Alltech will be celebrating the farmer and the vital contribution farmers make on a daily basis to feeding the growing world population.