Sustainably produced food is a hot market, and the carbon footprint of food products is already a decisive factor in consumers’ buying behavior. As the world’s most innovative dairy, Valio has set an ambitious goal: carbon neutral dairy by 2035. This objective both helps to fight climate change and to provide food manufacturers with sustainably produced food ingredients.
A sustainable production chain is a competitive advantage for food manufacturers who want to answer the market demand. Ingredient suppliers who are committed to sustainable operations can provide competitive edge to their customers in the food industry.
“Our goal is to cut dairy’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035, and we’re well on the way to achieving this. It is a good example of our concrete sustainability actions. Instead of just compensating for emissions, we are making major changes in our production chain in order to bring the carbon footprint of dairy down to zero in the future,” says Timo Pajari, SVP, Business Unit Powders at Valio.
“Our 2035 goal − carbon neutral dairy − means that the same number of emissions is reduced and removed from the atmosphere as is generated on the farms, in transportation, at the plants, and in package manufacturing,” continues Pajari.
Valio has set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and they have been accepted by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Food manufacturers and consumers alike want to know where the raw materials come from. That is why traceability and transparent procurement are important customer requirements in ingredients sales.
“Transparency is in the heart of Valio’s operations. All milk is traceable back to an individual farm. Finnish cows are among the healthiest in the world, and every cow at Valio farms even has a name. Transparency is also extended to our carbon neutral targets, which have been validated by SBTi and the progress is reported annually. It’s important to assess our environmental work through a trustworthy party in a transparent and science-based manner,” Pajari says.
“All Valio farms are becoming carbon farms, as we organise carbon farming trainings for Valio’s dairy farmers. So far, we have trained ca. 1,000 farms. All Valio farms will complete the training by 2035,” says Pajari.
Another concrete climate action is the development of the new Valio CARBO® grass seed mix that further improves the carbon binding ability of grasslands.
Also, Valio has developed for its own dairy farms an environmental calculator, which has Carbon Trust certification. CARBO® environmental calculator is based on a calculation model developed by Valio and it uses the most accurate calculation methods available, and it is based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) formulas. A farm-specific calculator makes it possible to measure the carbon balance efficiently and reliably; using those measurements, the correct actions that reduce environmental impacts can be implemented at the farm level. Changes might be related to how the cows are fed, how the fields are conditioned, how the crops are cultivated, or how the manure is handled.
Other Valio’s climate measures include the usage of biogas to replace fossil fuels and the development of plant-based packaging, for example. The first biogas-fueled milk collection and distribution trucks hit the road in 2018, and today we have biogas-fueled milk collection trucks and distribution trucks. Valio is working towards using cow manure to produce biogas. “In Finland, the production of carbon neutral milk is an achievable goal, as the production methods differ from those elsewhere. For instance, cows are mainly grass fed round the year with supplements of domestic grains instead of soy,” says Pajari.
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We are aware of our environmental and climate impacts, and take active measures to reduce them.