NEW ZEALAND – Nestlé and Fonterra have partnered to reduce New Zealand’s dairy farm emissions by 30% by mid-2027 and achieve net zero emissions in 10 years.

New Zealand is a global producer of dairy ingredients, already associated with lower emissions due to its pasture-based farming systems, ideal climate, and highly efficient producers.

Still, dairy contributes about 50% of the country’s agricultural livestock emissions, and about a quarter comes from dairy biological emissions (N2O and methane).

 The two manufacturing giants said the partnership in the project will run for five years with co-partner Diary Trust Taranaki and assess all aspects of dairy farm operation regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) production.

The project which strives to help both companies reach their carbon-neutral goals will also see the development of a commercially viable net zero carbon emissions farm.

The pilot project will be on a 290-hectare property, and any insights and activities will be shared with other farmers to increase adoption.

It will share any insights or developments with farmers during planned open days, who can then adopt the new methodologies for their farms.

Farms enrolled in the project will also get additional support from Fonterra to allow reductions in on-farm emissions.

Margaret Stuart, director of corporate affairs and sustainability for Nestlé Oceania said: “Together with Fonterra, we hope to find practical, workable ways that dairy farmers in New Zealand can reduce net carbon emissions on their farms, to demonstrate these to farmers and see these practices mainstreamed.”

“That said, it is critical to remember that every farm is different. This means we need to understand the broader farming system and look for specific levers that might work within it to continue to monitor and adapt for the conditions on that far.”

Dairy and livestock farming account for 48% of New Zealand’s overall emissions. Methane, nitrous oxide (N2O), and CO2 are the key components of the livestock industry’s total emissions.

Recently, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) said 15 of the largest dairy companies in the world (Fonterra being in the list) are responsible for 3.4% of global methane emissions and 11% of total global livestock emissions.

The combined methane emissions of the companies are roughly 12.8 million tonnes, far exceeding the entire methane footprint of many countries, including Russia, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

Jennifer Chappel, CEO of Nestlé New Zealand, noted that to reduce their Scope 3 emissions, the company must work with dairy farmers and their communities.

For this reason, Nestlé has over 100 pilot projects with partners worldwide, including in New Zealand, and 20 farms already striving toward the ambition of net zero emissions.

Chappel explains that she hopes this top-down approach of achieving macro goals via micro assessment will only work by closely examining the minutiae of dairy farming.

She is hopeful the farm-level emission reduction initiatives will contribute to Nestlé meeting its goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, including reducing emissions by 20% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

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