Managing Director, Arla Foods UK
Plenty of companies these days recognise the importance of sustainability, but few can care as much as people who actually live off the land and depend on the environment like the farmers who own Arla Foods.
The farmers who own our cooperative are the first to feel passionate about animal welfare, soil health, water usage, wasted resources and changes to our climate since these have far-reaching impacts on their lives and work. We know that we represent people for whom “the environment” is their livelihood.
Our cooperative structure brings significant stability and allows us to build enduring relationships, not just with our farmers, but also with our customers and across the supply chain. We have the benefit of scale: we are owned by nearly 10,000 European farmers, of whom 2,300 are in the UK, making up more than a quarter of British dairy producers. Our decisions have a disproportionate impact on the environment, on animal welfare and in a host of other areas.
Climate checks identify how we can reduce our carbon footprint
We pledged, more than a year ago, to achieve net zero emissions across our business by 2050. As part of this, our owners have delivered on a commitment to complete ‘climate checks’ on every Arla farm, identifying where emissions can be reduced. We are looking closely, too, at carbon emissions from our processing sites and our transportation activities.
Cutting emissions is only part of the challenge. We must also reduce plastic waste, make efficient use of water, cut lorry movements, improve local air quality, protect the health of the soil, achieve the highest possible standards of animal welfare and take into account the social and economic benefits of a thriving industry. Additionally, we strive to provide nutritious food for everyone.
The farmers who own our cooperative are the first to feel passionate about animal welfare, soil health, water usage, wasted resources and changes to our climate.
Reducing levels of plastic used on farms
We are making good progress, including via our ‘Arla 360’ programme. This involves working with major retailers to cut the amount of plastics used on farms, to promote pollinators and to ensure that every calf has a value. Through our ‘R500’ initiative we are helping farmers to learn from best practice in how they run their businesses. And, more widely, we are driving up standards in the use of inputs (such as fertilisers), in animal welfare and in many other areas.
All of this means that Arla is making a leading contribution to improving the sustainability of our industry and it all starts from the fact we are owned by farmers, the frontline stewards of the environment.