20 Feb 2023
Hospitality takes action to decarbonise dairy supply chains
The dairy industry is worth around $900 billion and is projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2024. The industry has evolved for more than 2000 years, applying creativity and innovation as times have changed. Some of its most recent activity has seen it reduce the impact of a pint of milk by 40% since 1990.
And now it needs to innovate again — and at pace – if we’re to see it achieve net zero by 2040.
That's why the Zero Carbon Forum has formed its Dairy Action Group.
Bringing together the leading names in hospitality and Dairy UK, Zero Carbon Forum has formed the Action Group to bridge the gap between operator and supply chain with one shared goal - the decarbonisation of the UK dairy sector. The hospitality industry is committed to step up its efforts to decarbonise dairy sustainability practices in their supply chains.
With total global emissions currently around 50 billion tonnes of CO2-eq, dairy emissions equate to about 3.4% – almost double the impact of aviation (1.9%)1.
Work is underway to reduce emissions, in the form of improved on-farm practices, changes to feed, improved manure management, and reduced energy consumption. More radical innovations are also being explored, such as methane inhibitors in feed, which could result in a reduction of the methane produced from dairy cattle.
Our focus must be on improving the sustainability of current dairy production, focussing on the most significant impacts of the production lifecycle, namely methane emissions from enteric fermentation, manure management and adopting sustainable feed.
Enteric fermentation (methane emissions from the animal) contributes about 50% of the impact of dairy. And many of the most impactful interventions to address these emissions are still some way off from being used in everyday practice.
Asking the right questions
The Action Group met in January to discuss how to collaboratively engage our suppliers to produce more sustainable dairy.
The group has produced a Dairy Action Group Playbook, which provides a guide for the hospitality sector to raise important questions to their suppliers when sourcing dairy. The playbook supports buyers to work with their suppliers to improve the efficiency of the dairy products they source.
At a farm level, adoption of reduction methods are often hampered by high costs and lack of incentives. The Dairy Action Group has determined that hospitality could help with this by giving incentives to dairy farmers by showing the growth in demand for sustainable products within restaurants.
Dairy UK, alongside the NFU and AHDB, are pushing hard to drive progress within the dairy sector via the UK Dairy Roadmap, a cross-industry sustainability initiative that began in 2008. Through the Dairy Roadmap, the UK dairy industry has led the world in committing itself to a plan which aims to reduce the environmental footprint of the entire supply chain, striving for environmental best practice, innovation, and compliance, whilst maximising the social and economic benefits for the UK dairy sector.
Current activity includes:
- Baseline Farm Data. A working group has been set up to collate industry-wide farm data in the areas of health & fertility, feed, fertiliser & manure, biodiversity and carbon footprints. Data will be used to set data-driven targets and track industry progress.
- Dairy Carbon Footprint. The Dairy Roadmap aims to get all UK dairy farmers carbon foot-printing by June 2023. In January 2022, 40% of farmers (60% milk volume) had undertaken a carbon footprint. Current estimates are around 75% of farmers and climbing.
- Best practice – resources are being developed to help farmers and processors adopt practices that reduce their environmental footprint whilst improving economic sustainability.
By collaborating and sharing data gathered by DairyUK with the hospitality sector, operators can work together with their supply chain to support farmers to go further, faster.
The next 12 months
Over the next year, the Dairy Action Group will establish clear messages for hospitality operators to engaging directly with their dairy suppliers. We hope that our collaboration with DairyUK will go a long way towards decarbonising the hospitality sector’s diary supply chain.
If you would like to be part of Zero Carbon Forum or the Dairy Action Group, or any of our other collaborative focused groups, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our community hub https://members-zcf.circle.so/home.