Irish Dairy Industry
Ireland is globally renowned for its premium production, processing and exportation of grass-fed, solution orientated dairy produce. Ireland exports over 1.6m tonnes/€5 billion of dairy products every year, making it the largest food and drink export category.
With an island location on the western edge of Europe, Ireland enjoys a temperate climate, plentiful rainfall and rich, deep soils. These natural attributes give it the longest grass growing season in Europe, making it perfectly suited for sustainable dairy production.
Today with 1.5 million cows across 17,000 farms, Ireland produces over 7.98 billion litres of milk and exports to over 140 countries. Ireland has earned a strong international reputation for the production of cheese, butter and dairy powders, including fat filled, skim milk, casein, whole milk and butter milk powders. Ireland is also a leader in premium specialised nutrition.
Core to this success of Irish dairy is a focus on quality and sustainability.
Origin Green is Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme. It is a fully integrated supply chain programme, led by Bord Bia, that brings together our food industry – from farmers to food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators – with the common goal of sustainable food production.
Origin Green measures, monitors and drives sustainability improvements across the entire supply chain to support claims that Irish food and drink is sustainably produced. This pioneering programme remains the worlds’ only national food and drink sustainability programme and support for Origin Green is key to Ireland’s global leadership in sustainable food production, in an environmentally viable way for today, and tomorrow.
Origin Green collaborates with 53,000 farms and 320 leading Irish food and drink companies to prove and improve the sustainability of the food they produce to meet the evolving needs of global customers and consumers. Providing programmes for farmers, producers, manufacturers and retailers, the Origin Green programme is independently monitored and verified. These verified Origin Green members account for 90% of Ireland's food and drink exports and 75% of domestic retailers.
The benefits of Origin Green are more environmentally aware farms, an important focus on community and more sustainable food and drink production which ultimately contribute to sustainable livelihoods. This is what makes Ireland’s food and drink produce the first choice globally; it is trusted as sustainably produced by people who care.
Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS)
The Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) is a national dairy scheme with close to 100 percent participation from Irish dairy farmers. The SDAS monitors quality assurance requirements and collects farm performance data to demonstrate the sustainability of Irish dairying at individual farm level. It monitors Ireland’s progress in a systematic way on its journey of continuous improvement.
As part of SDAS, Bord Bia auditors gather data during the audit process through the Sustainability Survey. This enables Bord Bia to assess the environmental performance of farms via a carbon footprint calculation. The data gathered is used to generate a farmer feedback report which includes a summary of farm performance under:
- General Farm Performance
- Carbon Footprint
- Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)
- Nutrient Management
- Grassland Management
- Farm Health and Safety
The reported data compares current farm performance against the previous SDAS audit and is also used as a benchmark against farms of a similar size. The purpose of the feedback report is to demonstrate to farmers how their farm inputs and activities contribute to GHG production and contains advice on how to mitigate against these emissions and improve production efficiencies.
The SDAS scheme is accredited to the European Standard for Product Certification (ISO/IEC 17065: 2012).
Find out more about SDAS here.
Key Improvements to Date
- Under the programme, over 260,000 carbon assessments have taken place on beef and dairy farms over a five-year period.
- Farms that joined SDAS in 2014 saw an average of 9% reduction in CO2 per unit of milk produced.
- The Origin Green Progress Report shows that in a five-year period, food manufacturers delivered an 11% reduction in energy use per unit of output and a 17% reduction in water use per unit of output. They donated 4,717 tonnes of surplus food to FoodCloud, planted 9,261 trees on manufacturing sites and donated over €8m to community and charity organisations.
- To date, our verified member companies have set over 2,400 sustainability targets demonstrating their commitment to improving the sustainability and environmental footprint of their businesses.
Find out more about Origin Green here.