FrieslandCampina & Danone pact aims for 25% greenhouse gas reduction

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Simone Boitelle, Director Global Corporate Affairs FrieslandCampina (l), Yann-Gaël Rio, Danone’s Global Vice-President for Nature & Agriculture (m) and member dairy farmer Edwin Daatselaar (r). ©Danone/FrieslandCampina
Simone Boitelle, Director Global Corporate Affairs FrieslandCampina (l), Yann-Gaël Rio, Danone’s Global Vice-President for Nature & Agriculture (m) and member dairy farmer Edwin Daatselaar (r). ©Danone/FrieslandCampina

Related tags: Danone, Frieslandcampina, GHG emissions

Dutch farming co-operative, Royal FrieslandCampina and Swiss dairy producer, Danone, are extending a three-year partnership to support farmers in their transition to more environmentally friendly, sustainable farming.

The planned extension follows positive results from measures implemented between 2015 and 2020, which helped 600 FrieslandCampina farmers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17.6% through a combination of regenerative agricultural practices and green energy sourcing.

Simone Boitelle, FrieslandCampina Director Global Corporate Affairs, said: “For over 150 years already, FrieslandCampina believes in cooperation to achieve great results. This collaboration is yet another great example.

“I am very proud of our member farmers who make this possible, they deserve the stage for these strong results!”

The objective for the next three years is to accelerate “scaling up​” of sustainable agricultural models to achieve their goal of reaching 25% GHG emissions reduction “over the course of a multi-year collaboration​”.

“Supporting farmers to produce milk in balance with nature, is the key to a more sustainable, climate neutral and nature positive future,” ​Boitelle added.

Tracking improvements

In the long-term, FrieslandCampina wants to achieve “net climate neutral​” production no later than 2050 and is prioritising six sustainability targets: “Better nutrition, better living for farmers, better climate, better nature, better packaging and better sourcing”.

New sustainability measures are continuously tracked by farmers to monitor their progress and effectiveness using the Annual Nutrient Cycling Assessment​ (ANCA) tool, which among other things, helps manage their carbon footprint.

The ANCA collects data based on farm-specific environmental performance, including on production output, soil type, weather conditions, traceability of cattle feed, manure digestion, and use of green electricity.

Measures implemented so far have focused on supporting regenerative farming by using local and deforestation-free protein sources for feed, implementing pasture feeding, adjusting cow’s diets to lower enteric methane emissions, and optimising nutrient and manure management.

FrieslandCampina Researcher Environment Impact Assessor, Sanne Dekker explains that dietary changes ensure cattle and fields remain healthy to avoid protein spoilage.

He adds: “Improving grass yields and grass silage conservation has helped to make sure that no losses in protein occur.”  

Green power

Farmers were also encouraged to transition to green electricity with solar panels, windmills, and manure digesters that not only generate renewable electricity but also help reduce methane emissions through manure storage.

Many have also switched from fossil fuels to bio-based diesel and reduced energy consumption by recovering heat from milk cooling, for example.

In addition, green renewable energy from members is being used to support FrieslandCampina’s production facilities.

“Other elements that we can add are also the use of feed additives, improved sourcing of feed especially with regard to deforestation and opening the road through the future with regard to making carbon sequestration measurable in a good way or upscaling manure digestion on farms,” ​maintained Dekker.

Danone’s Global Vice-President for Nature & Agriculture, Yann-Gaël Rio said the results to date illustrate the effectiveness of shared knowledge and expertise to initiate positive change: “This partnership demonstrates that by combining our expertise, we can accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices to help reduce the climate impact of dairy farming.”

He adds that the measures implemented so far represent a great first step but says “there is more to be done, and we are looking forward to supporting more farmers in their transition”.

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