“We view the issue of sustainability as being critical to the Irish beef industry,” said Padraig Brennan, describing the beginning of the environmental sustainability program that is being rolled out to all members of Bord Bia’s Beef Quality Assurance Scheme. “In the last 18 months we’ve visited about 22,000 out of a total of about 32,000 farms that are members of our scheme.” Bord Bia is working with each of their member farmers to develop a carbon footprint measurement process and identify methods that they can use to reduce that footprint. He described the beef program and plans to expand it to dairy producers. (See the video)
Mr. Brennan was the keynote speaker at Dairy Solutions Symposium 2012 and spoke on “The New Green Revolution: Requisites for a Changing Global Marketplace.” He described sustainability initiatives that are being created and implemented by several major brands, including: Nestle’s, McDonald’s, Tesco, and Unilever. For most companies it is about more than just greenhouse gas emissions. Targets are being set for water use, biodiversity, animal welfare, and waste.
There are significant benefits for companies that develop sustainability programs now. Consumer awareness of sustainability issues is still increasing and brands can differentiate themselves by making serious gains in sustainability and communicating those clearly to their customers.
The Irish beef and dairy industries have a lot at stake as well. Ireland exports the vast majority of beef, milk and cheese that is produced. The ability to export to world markets is dependent on Ireland’s reputation as a producer of safe, high quality food and sustainability is becoming an ever more important part of that reputation.