DENMARK – Arla Foods has launched the ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% per kilo of milk over the next decade in line with the target to achieve carbon net zero dairy by 2050.

Arla is working with its 10,300 farmer owners and is investing in research at the farm level through optimized feed composition as well as working with farmers to quantify and increase the carbon captured and stored in the soil.

The new targets complement Arla’s environmental and climate goals which seeks to reduce the company’s carbon footprint across the entire dairy value chain.

The new strategy covers the whole value chain from cow to consumer and addresses the areas climate, air, water and nature.

“We want to leverage our position as the leading international farming cooperative with 10,300 farmers and perhaps the most comprehensive understanding of dairy farming and production in Northern Europe to accelerate the transition to sustainable dairy production.

We have worked towards sustainable farming for years and we need to go further and faster, not least to help fight climate change, which affects everyone on the planet, especially us farmers,” said dairy farmer and chairman of Arla Foods, Jan Toft Nørgaard.

Driving reductions on farms

Given that total emissions from a dairy value chain comes from the farms, Arla said it is investing in optimised feed composition research to reduce a cow’s methane emissions.

It is also working with farmers to quantify and increase the carbon captured and stored in the soil as part of increasing their positive contribution.

Arla has since 2013 done more than 5,000 climate assessments on its farms and carried out almost 700 on-farm meetings on sustainability measures.

In 2018, Arla established a digital documentation database called Arlagården® Plus to help Arla and the individual farmer to systematically measure and benchmark the farm performance.

The company said it has so far registered data from 96% of Arla’s milk pool in the system with information about their herd, milking system, feed, grazing, land use and animal welfare.

According to Arla, including initiatives such as the farm’s impact on climate and environment will enable it to identify the opportunities presented by the biggest potential areas, and to identify best practice farms.

Arla said that since 1990, its farmers have reduced emissions per kilo of milk by 24 % while CO2 emissions across its operations including packaging an transport has reduced by 22% since 2005.

“Arla farmers are excellent and progressive farm managers and Arla will support them as much as possible with tools, new technology and new knowledge from scientists and experts.

As a business we are also stepping up our transformation to more sustainable operations using non-fossil fuels, renewable energy, sustainable packaging and less waste with a wide range of new initiatives that we will unfold during 2019 and onwards,” said Arla Foods’ CEO Peder Tuborgh.