UK – Danish multinational cooperative Arla Foods has set a new target to achieve more than 50% growth across its UK organic retail and foodservice business in the next five years.  

This will enable the farmer-owned dairy cooperative to take advantage of the rising popularity of organic foods among consumers. 

According to a report highlighted by Arla, organic food category emerged as one of the strongest grocery sectors during the last 12 months, with sales growing by 9.4%, compared to 5.6% for its non-organic counterparts.  

To achieve this growth, Arla has set out a specific criterion that its organic farmers in the UK must meet from January.  

As part of the new Organic 2.0 standards, Arla’s organic farmers will now be required to convert to 100% green electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, biogas and hydropower. 

The new standards also requires organic Arla farmers to achieve a 30% reduction in CO e emissions per kg of milk by 2028, two years before the cooperative’s wider 2030 target for conventional farms. 

In addition, Arla farmers will be required to take a greater focus on soil health, which includes conducting a carbon assessment of the soil to create a baseline for measuring further improvements in the soil carbon levels. 

Also from 2022, farmers must conduct an annual self-assessment of soil health indicators, for example, scoring assessments of soil smell, spading ease, and earthworm counts. 

On biodiversity, on an annual basis, farmers need to self-assess and register biodiversity activities, for example, the creation of flower-rich pollinator habitats and letting sections of the land grow naturally. 

Farmers will also be required to increase the minimum number of days that cows are fed on grass from the current 120 to 150. 

All animals above six months of age will also be required to have access to cow brushes – with a minimum requirement of one brush per 50 animals or one brush per robotic milking machine where relevant. 

Arla expects these new requirements will enable existing farmers to significantly increase their milk production so as to meet the required target. 

Currently, Arla Foods UK produces about 180 million liters of organic milk. If successful, this figure would be raised to about 270 million liters by 2026. 

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