A European dairy cooperative is tackling climate change head on, promising to make its supply chain carbon neutral by 2050.
Arla Foods, which represents 10,300 farmers across Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, announced the target as part of a new ‘climate ambition’ which will see the cooperative’s greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 30 per cent per kilo of milk over the next decade. The final target in the plan is complete carbon neutrality, to be achieved by 2050.
Measures will include a move to feeds optimised to reduce the amount of methane produced by cows, as well as more efficient pasture production to minimise nutrient loss. Arla Foods is investigating the potential for manure to be used as a renewable energy source, and farmers are being encouraged to invest in on-farm energy production technologies such as solar and biogas. There is also a push for farmers to increase the amount of carbon captured and stored on-farm, and improve biodiversity.
“Arla farmers are excellent and progressive farm managers and Arla will support them as much as possible with tools, new technology and new knowledge from scientists and experts. As a business we are also stepping up our transformation to more sustainable operations using non-fossil fuels, renewable energy, sustainable packaging and less waste with a wide range of new initiatives that we will unfold during 2019 and onwards,” says Arla Foods CEO Peder Tuborgh.
Arla Foods has already run a series of emissions audits for their members, producing climate assessments for each farmer.
“The climate assessment is highly motivating, because it identifies your farms’ potential for CO2 reductions, which will often lead to cost savings”, says Jan Toft Nørgaard, Dairy Farmer and Chairman of Arla Foods.
Existing sustainability initiatives have already led to improvements with Arla farmers reducing Co2 emission per kg of milk by 24% since 1990. Operationally, the company has reduced emissions from the farm gate to the consumer by 22.5% since 2005, despite a 40% increase in milk production. Arla farmers currently produce milk with an emission load of 1.15kg / CO2 / kg of milk, compared with the global average of 2.5kg.
Peder Tuborgh admits that the new plans will result in a price increase for consumers.
“We believe that a growing number of consumers are willing to reward the most sustainable dairy farmers by paying a little more for their milk in the same way as we have seen with organic dairy. From today we are starting to work with a group of progressive farmers in both Denmark and Sweden to be able to offer more sustainable conventional and organic fresh milks leading the way on climate, animal welfare and farm management”.
Carbon Neutral Down Under
Earlier this month, Melbourne-based Flinders + Co set a world first as the only meat supplier to be completely carbon neutral.
Flinders + Co Managing Director James Madden said that the decision was in part driven by consumers willingness to pay a premium for carbon neutral meat.
“Becoming carbon neutral is our first big step in trying to show that even our industry — one that is becoming increasingly maligned for perceived environmental issues — can still make positive change for the future.”