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Ireland’s Commitment To Sustainable Food & Drink Production

Thought Leadership


July 5, 2018, 11:53 am

“To date, Bord Bia has undertaken over 195,000 carbon footprint assessments on a national scale, a world first.” Michael Hussey, Bord Bia Regional Director, Middle East Markets

Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) the Irish Government agency with the specific goal of promoting Irish food around the world, and linking Irish suppliers with potential export partners. Last year we exported nearly EUR 300 million worth of food into the GCC and we are aiming to grow that to over EUR 500 million by 2020 with the goal of 100% of these food exports being sustainably produced in accordance with the principles of Origin Green.

Origin Green is the only sustainability programme in the world operating on a national scale, uniting government, the private sector and food producers through Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board. Independently verified, this voluntary programme enables Ireland’s farmers, food producers and retail and foodservice operators to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that reduce environmental impact, serve local communities more effectively and protecting the rich natural resources that Ireland enjoys.

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) introduced the Global Sustainable Development Goals; a set of 17 ambitious goals that cover a wide range of issues including responsible consumption and production, climate action, sustainable communities, as well as targeting poverty and hunger, and health and well-being. These goals, agreed to by 193 world leaders, including Ireland, set out a roadmap for governments and industry to move towards a fairer and more sustainable future. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and their associated targets are used to provide guidance in the ongoing development of Ireland’s Origin Green programme. As a programme, Origin Green aligns itself with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and over time, has an ambition to drive members of Origin Green to align their own sustainability plans with this global agenda.

Origin Green Alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Under the Origin Green Charter, food and drink producers make commitments under three key areas: raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability. The charter enables food manufacturers to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that help them reduce environmental impact, achieve efficiencies in the daily running of their businesses and improve their impact on society. As the programme has evolved, additional target areas have been included. Health and nutrition is now a key focus area within the Origin Green Sustainability Charter and is a mandatory target area within all Origin Green plans.

Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance auditors inspect farms every 18 months and compile data on the sustainability performance of each farm. Continuous assessment enables farmers and producers to make informed decisions on improving their sustainability practices. To date, Bord Bia has undertaken over 195,000 carbon footprint assessments on a national scale, a world first. Independently accredited by the Carbon Trust to its PAS 2050 standard, Ireland already has the joint lowest Carbon footprint level for dairy production in Europe.

The entire base of over 500 Origin Green participating companies’ currently accounts for 95% of total food and drink exports, highlighting the ongoing and sustained commitment of Irish food and drink manufacturers towards sustainability and Origin Green.

Origin Green Ambassadors

The future of the Irish food and drink industry is reliant on driving exports world-wide, while developing a thorough and robust strategy to address the challenges presented by climate change. To deliver on this ambition, a team of ten Origin Green Ambassadors, specially selected by Bord Bia, help to clearly communicate Ireland’s sustainability credentials to international markets and act as a knowledge sharing conduit between the Irish food and drink industry and global organisations achieving best practice in sustainability. These Origin Green Ambassadors work with companies such as Starbucks, Alibaba, Subway, Coca-Cola, Five Guys, Mars and Nestlé.

Ireland enjoys a strong reputation as a source of natural, high quality food, drink and ingredients. With a temperate climate and green countryside, it boasts an ideal starting position to become a world leader in sustainable food and drink production. With a population of almost five million people, the country produces enough food to feed 36 million people and has been ranked the most food secure nation in a survey by The Global Food Security Index, which was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by DuPont. The survey considers three core pillars of food security – affordability, availability, and quality and safety — across 113 countries from which Ireland came out on top overall.

Ireland has a long history of supplying produce to the Middle East region, historically beef and dairy product. Current products coming into the GCC range from ice cream, poultry products, beef, seafood, yogurts, chocolate, bakery items to gluten free and health food products. In a region where sustainability and food security is of growing importance and focus, Irish food producers are well suited to build long-lasting mutually beneficial business relationships with Middle Eastern countries centred around protecting our natural environment for future generations.

We have 14 offices globally and the office for the Middle East region is based in Dubai headed up by myself. A central part of what we do is to tell the story of how Irish food is produced in a sustainable way for future generations.

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