Fonterra Talks Carbon Neutral Dairy

Fonterra’s dairy ingredient business, NZMP is launching a new carbonzero certified organic butter. The dairy giant rolled out its NZMP Organic Butter in North America this month, with further expansion into Europe planned for April.

The ingredient has been certified carbon neutral by third-party certification programme Toitū Envirocare and is Fonterra’s first certified carbon neutral product.

“To gain carbonzero certification, and make this butter carbon neutral, we first measured the carbon footprint of our organic butter and then made a plan to reduce the emissions even further from the production of our organic butter,” explained Hans Huistra, Fonterra president of Europe and Africa.

“Toitū Envirocare then verified that we had measured our footprint correctly and that our emissions reduction plan specific to the organic butter was in place. Finally, for this ingredient to be certified, we utilised high-quality carbon credits approved by Toitū Envirocare to offset emissions from making the butter. This is done through projects that capture or avoid carbon emissions, like a regenerative native forest or renewable energy.”

When measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy products, Fonterra benefits from the farming system prevalent in New Zealand, with animals grass-fed 365 days a year.

“Fonterra New Zealand has one of the world’s lowest on-farm carbon footprints, at approximately one-third of the global average,” noted Huistra.

Over the past 25 years, Fonterra’s farmer-owners have improved productivity and reduced emissions by about 20 percent. These efforts will continue apace as the cooperative pushes ahead with efforts to help farmers understand where their emissions come from and the actions that they can take to reduce them.

“Our farmers now receive a unique Greenhouse Gas (GHG) report each year to help them understand their emissions and areas for improvement, and furthermore, from June 2021 they will be financially rewarded for producing sustainable milk.”

Food manufacturers are looking for new and creative ways to deliver their own sustainability goals and reduce emissions in their supply chains. At the same time, brands want to capitalise on consumer demand for sustainable products. Research from FMCG Gurus shows that 72 percent of global consumers express interest in brands that actively communicate sustainability achievements.

Huistra stressed that clear communication is crucial to help customers understand the carbon footprint of the food they eat.

The dairy industry has come under fire for what critics describe as its high environmental cost. According to a recent study from the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, the world’s 13 largest dairy corporations have a combined GHG footprint larger than the world’s biggest fossil fuel emitters, BHP and ConocoPhilips.

While the food sector contributes 30 percent of total GHG emissions, Huistra noted that dairy is responsible for a relatively small proportion of that total.

“We need to not just consider the climate impact of food, but also its nutritional value, affordability and accessibility. Dairy plays a key role in providing sustainable, accessible nutrition to all consumers around the world and will remain an important food source well into the future,” concluded Huistra.

“The creation of carbon-efficient dairy products should be a priority from the perspective of the climate, but also from the perspective of sustainably providing quality nutrition to the world’s growing population.”