Emmi and Nestlé to launch a comprehensive climate protection initiative together with milk suppliers

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Emmi and Nestlé to launch a comprehensive climate protection initiative together with milk suppliers

Emmi and Nestlé to launch a comprehensive climate protection initiative together with milk suppliers
February 25
11:00 2022
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Emmi and Nestlé are launching the “KlimaStaR Milk” initiative together with milk producer organisations aaremilch and the Central Switzerland Milk Producers Cooperative (ZMP). The cross-sectoral initiative pursues the goal of gaining scientifically based insights together, in order to make the Swiss dairy industry more competitive and sustainable with respect to climate protection and resource efficiency. With a tailored mix of measures, the aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural milk production by 20% on average.  The initiative is supported by the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and will include around 300 agricultural pilot operations. The School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences at Bern University of Applied Sciences (HAFL) and ETH Zurich will be supporting the initiative as scientific partners.

In Switzerland, dairy cows are part of a sustainable agricultural sector that is adapted to local conditions. As part of a biological cycle, they convert grass that cannot be consumed by humans into nutritious milk for direct human consumption. At the same time, the question arises as to how the dairy industry can further reduce its impact on the climate and ruminants can also be part of a sustainable and land-appropriate agricultural sector in the long term.

According to estimates by the United Nations, the dairy industry is responsible for around 3% of total global CO2 emissions.  This does not make it one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions; however, solutions do need to be found for the harmful methane emissions produced by cows in particular.

Further progress with respect to climate protection is also in the fundamental interests of local agriculture and the milk processors. After all, according to scenarios by the Federal National Centre for Climate Services2, even in Switzerland, the climate is likely to become even dryer and hotter in future, and will be characterised by even more frequent heavy rainfall, with noticeable to strong corresponding negative impact, depending on the region.

A pioneering role in sustainability

“KlimaStaR Milk” aims to create a common basis for a more sustainable, resource-saving and land-appropriate Swiss dairy industry and thus position it for long-term success.

To this end, Nestlé, Emmi, aaremilch and ZMP – four major players in the Swiss dairy industry – have joined forces. Because the initiative aims to improve sustainability in the use of natural resources and its findings promise benefits and impact through the project, this project is also supported with financial assistance by the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) as part of the Resource Programme for Agriculture (AgricA Art. 77a).

By joining forces, the initiators want to contribute towards further reducing the environmental footprint of milk and thus also of dairy products, and, in turn, also to meet a growing need felt by consumers. To this end, the initiative also starts at the very beginning of the supply chain: milk production itself. Around 300 farms are to be involved in the project and supported by research and milk processors.

20% less greenhouse gas emissions

With the help of various measures, the project partners aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from milk production by 20%. To achieve this goal, four key points are being addressed: feed, herd management, energy, and farmyard manure. To measure progress, scientifically based survey methods and specially developed analysis technologies will be used.

The project sponsors have also set ambitious reduction targets of 20% in the feed-food competition, i.e. the situation in which food that would also be suitable for human consumption is used to feed animals. This is the case, for example, when wheat is fed to cows. Land competition occurs when feed comes from cropland that could also be used to grow food. The aim is to reduce these undesirable interactions with the aid of resource-saving feed methods and roughage-based dairy farming.

Positive incentives for dairy producers

Interested producers can now find out more about the initiative and register to take part via a specially set-up website (klimastar-milch.ch). They receive a practical and farm-specific analysis of the carbonfootprint for their milk. This is then used to develop individual, land-appropriate emission reduction strategies. Dairy producers are free to choose what measures they take and receive positive incentives for implementation via an impact-oriented bonus model.

The innovative initiative is intended to run for six years. From the scientifically supported results obtained in this way, all those involved hope to gain partnership-based insights that will allow for implementation of targeted measures beyond the scope of the project and thus help to further reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the Swiss dairy industry, which are rather moderate by international standards.
The “KlimaStaR Milk” project contributes towards the respective climate ambitions of Emmi and Nestlé, which are both aiming to become climate-neutral by 2050. Both Emmi and Nestlé are pursuing further climate protection targets of their own.

Gabriele Schachermayr, Assistant Director of the FOAG, comments on the initiative: “With this project, solutions for a more climate-friendly dairy industry are to be tested in practice and developed further together with the partners involved in the value chain. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in dairy production, and at the same time reduce land and food competition. We expect a very large increase in knowledge in this regard. This is important in order to achieve more sustainable, land-appropriate and productive agriculture.”

Marc Heim, Emmi Executive Vice President Switzerland, comments: “Only by working together will we be able to advance effective climate protection solutions. As Switzerland’s leading milk processor, we are aware of our responsibility to operate our business in a resource-efficient, socially and ecologically sustainable way. I am convinced that the partnership-based initiative will help us gain a better understanding of complex interrelationships and provide fact-based insights, so that together we can strengthen the tradition of a sustainably oriented Swiss dairy industry also for generations to come.”

Daniel Imhof, Head of Agricultural Affairs at Nestlé Switzerland, says: “Climate protection can only be achieved by joining forces. We are therefore pleased to be able to pull our weight here together with Emmi and make a contribution towards sustainable Swiss dairy farming. Cow’s milk has been an important resource for us since the birth of Nestlé and remains indispensable in the manufacture of infant nutrition and other products at our factory in Konolfingen. We don’t want to replace our cows, but rather help to improve their environmental footprint.”

Thomas Grüter, President of the ZMP, explains: “To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, the entire value chain must play its part – from consumption to raw material production. Our milk is produced in and with nature – our dairy cows are part of it. It is therefore in our own fundamental interests to contribute to the climate targets. Milk production here is already grassland-based and land-appropriate. With KlimaStaR, we want to gain further scientifically sound knowledge on possible conflicting targets and for impactful measures to effectively align our milk production in a sustainable way.”

Rudolf Bigler, Chairman of the Board at aaremilch AG and an active milk producer, says: “Since 2014, aaremilch AG has been strongly committed to climate protection and has done some pioneering work. We do not shy away from tackling complex issues since we are convinced that Swiss milk is a very sustainable and healthy food staple.”

 [1] UN Food and Agriculture Organisation: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and other Land Use 2014

[2] NCCS National Centre for Climate Services: CH2018 Climate Change Scenarios

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