Sustainability; From Cow To Cup
July 5, 2018, 11:13 am
In 2016 Arla produced 13.9 bn kg of milk
“We need to deliver food in a much more sustainable way, if we as a food company do not work with sustainability, it will be a mess.” Ann-Camilla Kjaempe, Category Director at Arla Foods
Global dairy product behemoth, Arla Foods is a Europe-wide co-operative owned and directed by around 12,500 farmers from countries that include the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. As one of the strongest players in the international dairy arena, Arla Foods has taken sustainability and made it one of its key initiatives throughout its value chain – from cow to cup.
The co-operative, originally started in 1880, produces a wide range of dairy products including well-known brands such as Arla, Puck, Lurpak and Castello. Arla Foods is also the world’s largest manufacturer of organic dairy products. In 2016 Arla produced 13.9 billion kilogrammes of milk.
“Sustainability is truly an integral part of Arla, since we control the entire value chain from the farms, to the packs that consumers pick up in the store. We have the ability to work on sustainability in many, many different aspects of the company,” Ann-Camilla Kjaempe, Category Director at Arla Foods said.
The co-operative is currently working with its dairy farmers to improve and enhance its sustainability goals through its Arlagården programme. The four cornerstones of the Arlagården policy are firstly, milk composition. Arla Foods strives to achieve a milk composition, which ensures that the end products meet consumers’ needs and wishes.
It also ensures that the composition of fat, protein, minerals and other important constituents in the milk are normal and that the milk is fresh. The third cornerstone is animal welfare, where the cows’ basic physiological and behavioural needs must be met, which will improve their health and welfare. The final cornerstone is environmental considerations. Arla Foods encourages environmentally sound production on the farm that is respectful of nature. The farm must protect the surrounding environment and the cultural landscape, as well as optimising the utilisation of nutrients and use only a minimum amount of hazardous chemicals based on risk assessment principles.
Arla also focuses on transportation, the way the dairies operate, and packaging.
“From 2005 to today, we have grown the business 50% but, we have managed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 16%. We are absolutely on target on our goals and our 2020 goal is to decrease our footprint by 25% even though we are still growing globally. It has really proven that we are working on sustainability throughout the value chain,” said Kjaempe.
In 2016, 17 new biofuel vehicles were introduced in Sweden leading to an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 90% for each of the vehicle. They also introduced driving goals for their truckers.
“In Denmark I saw the Arla trucks driving very slowly on the roads. When I came to work here I realised that Arla had put a speed limit on all of our trucks, because the most fuel-efficient way of driving was at 80km/h,” noted Kjaempe.
Last year Arla introduced a new green milk carton made of renewable raw materials such as forest fibre and plastic from renewable sources, which has 20% lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional cartons leading to savings of 336 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
“Packaging is one area we really work on sustainability, and with our suppliers we try and improve on how we are delivering our products. We have also launched biodegradable packaging in some of our core ranges in Europe, and it is something we constantly strive to improve in our business,” stated Kjaempe.
In 2013, Arla opened the world’s largest fresh milk dairy plant in Aylesbury in the UK. The dairy plant is carbon neutral, and is the world’s largest, most technically advanced and environment-friendly dairy for the processing of fresh milk. In another initiative, in 2016, Arla Denmark launched a campaign to collect lost milk crates. Arla milk crates are designed to last for 20 years, but get lost within three years on average. Working to collect the lost milk crates could reduce Arla’s CO2 emissions by as much as 825 tons.
In Sweden, the co-operative has initiated a project with Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) to establish a scientific basis of defining and recording the value Arla farms create in terms of contributing to important ecosystems that we all benefit from, such as pollination, beautiful landscapes and fertile agricultural soil. It also has had its midterm review of its Sustainable Dairy Farming Strategy 2020, which concluded that Arla farms are on track to achieve its sustainability targets. The co-operative is now looking into extending its environmental strategy beyond 2020.
Arla also continuously supports and promotes biodiversity including the responsible sourcing of feed and ingredients.
“For Arla Foods, sustainability is extremely important. In 2050, there will be nine billion people in the world, and it is going to put enormous pressure on the resources that are available, and food. Food is a staple, everyone needs food and nine billion people are not going to survive without it. We need to deliver food in a much more sustainable way, if we as a food company do not work with sustainability, it will be a mess. If we are to look to the future, if we don’t do anything there will be severe consequences,” noted Kjaempe.
Arla, which has been operating in the UAE for 60 years, started importing its range of organic milks into the UAE in September 2017, and into Saudi Arabia at the beginning of 2018. The co-operative has seen a massive demand for its products, which retail at around AED 9 per litre.
Happy cows are sustainable cows
Arla Foods is a strong believer in the link between sustainability and animal welfare, ensuring that their cows are treated humanely and looked after properly. An unhappy cow produces less milk, and is bad for business.
“Being a responsible food company that delivers natural food products, I think it is important how we treat our animals. In Europe we can allows our cows to be grass-fed, we can allow them to roam and have fresh water and live in a sustainable way. When you start producing organic products; not spraying the grass with artificial pesticides, fertilizers, use artificial growth hormones in the cows, it is key to sustainable food production in the future and this is so important for us. Our cows must be happy cows,” said Kjaempe.
Arla cows producing between 25 to 30 litres of milk per day, more than cows that are being given growth hormones and things that are not natural. Kjaempe noted that this is why organic is part of a sustainable future and why the co-operative wants to be a leader within the global organic dairy industry.
“Our farmers take great pride in having a personal relationship with each cow; they know how each cow is doing. As long as it is healthy for our cows they are on the grass. When the weather doesn’t allow it, if it is too cold, or frosty, then they are in the stables. Our cows always have to have the best feed, they have to have free access to water – they have the highest welfare,” said Kjaempe.
Arla Foods: Farmer owned
Arla is a dairy cooperative, owned by 12,500 farmers. This structure means that farmers sit on the boards of Arla and have a direct say on how the company is run. Plus, all the benefits from the sale of Arla’s products go back to those owners. The owners live in seven countries in Northern Europe and they share the earnings equally on each litre of milk they deliver to Arla. Arla’s cooperative roots go all the way back to the 1880s and its structure means that they work collaboratively to create a sustainable long-term future for the dairy industry. The fact that Arla are farmer owned often gives consumers a sense of quality throughout the value chain.
Arla’s organic cows
· Arla give their cows the best food– fresh, pure and in just the amounts needed to give them the best possible nutrition every day. Arla’s cows are reared outside, when the weather permits, on a 100% organic diet of grass, corn and clover.
· Arla cows, which produce our Arla Organic milk, are free range, meaning they graze outside whenever possible. The farmer will only choose to bring them indoors when it would be detrimental to their welfare to be outside, for instance, during winter weather conditions where it can be below zero degrees. During the winter months, the farmer will always put their cows’ welfare first and choose whether it best for them to stay indoors or outside.
· In line with European standards, Arla farmers do not give hormones to their cows to increase the amount of milk they produce. The cows do fine on their own, and when they’re well fed and looked after, they will produce 25 to 30 litres of high quality, nutritious milk every day.
· Arla Organic Milk is free from antibiotics. If a cow gets sick, sometimes it has to be treated with antibiotics. When this happens, the cow’s milk is separated and is not included in the milk that goes to the dairy. The vet will decide when the treatment is complete. Arla always document how many antibiotics are given and to which cow.
The dairy industry is notoriously unsustainable responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
Build sustainability practices throughout the dairy value chain.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved cow health, better quality milk.
Photo Credit – mea.arla.com