As one of our priority raw materials, supplied mainly by one key supplier in Ireland, cream seemed a manageable starting point to test our new sustainable agriculture guidelines. When we first approached our main cream supplier, Glanbia, to understand what sustainable agriculture means for them and the dairy industry, they were initially cautious. Believing their own operations were well managed, they questioned the value that such a programme could add.
Fast forward to today, and our supplier now sees our work together on sustainable cream to be a key differentiator in the dairy industry. Glanbia has already begun to develop their own farm quality assurance scheme to evaluate their suppliers’ performance, and are using this scheme to identify areas for continuous improvement in sustainable agriculture.
Over the course of the year, we have been working with Glanbia to:
- Help develop their farm programme, which now includes sustainable criteria
- Establish an awards scheme that rewards farms for continuous improvements
- Develop ‘best practice guidance’ material.
To start the project, we engaged a consulting firm to benchmark the inherent competitiveness of the Irish dairy industry against global peers, and identify its potential value. The feedback was that there is an inherently positive story. Rain-fed temperate grassland dairy farming, such as is found in Ireland, ranks among the most sustainable forms of dairy farming in the world. The firm outlined the indicative value for both Glanbia and Diageo in terms of risk mitigation, cost savings and brand growth opportunities.
Given that confidence, we then worked with our supplier to define what a sustainability programme should look like. Part of the initiative was to help develop an advisory committee, on which Diageo sits along with members of the private, independent and public sectors. Among the topics this committee plans to address are greenhouse gases, water and animal welfare. Through this work, we see great potential both for the ongoing sustainable credentials of the Baileys brand and for making a real contribution to the sustainability of the Irish dairy sector.
‘Having worked with Diageo over the past year, we are very excited with potential wins for all stakeholders (Diageo, Glanbia and milk suppliers) that can be achieved by driving for excellence in the area of sustainable dairy farming,’ said Jim Bergin, CEO Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland.