Using carbon footprint models built with the Carbon Trust, Bord Bia has been able to demonstrate the relative resource competitiveness of Irish agriculture, with the Irish dairy industry being shown to have the joint lowest carbon footprint in Europe.
The footprint information allows further hotspots to be targeted to help maintain the industry’s leading position.
Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board – acts as a link between Irish food, drink and horticultural producers and customers throughout the world. The food and drink sector accounts for 7% of Ireland’s economic output, 11% of Ireland’s exports and in 2013, exports increased by an estimated 9% to approach €10bn for the first time, with some 42% going to the UK.
Given the lack of traditional industrial activity in Ireland the sector accounts for 29% of overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In order to continue the growth of Irish food and drink exports, the sector is seeking to optimise their supply chain position by demonstrating and communicating that Ireland is a responsible and sustainable producer of food and drink products.
This ambition led Bord Bia to launch the Origin Green sustainability programme in 2012 to demonstrate internationally the commitment of Irish food and drink producers to operating sustainably – in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation, water management, waste reduction, biodiversity, raw material sourcing, community initiatives, and health and nutrition.
Collaboration with the Carbon Trust has allowed Bord Bia and Teagasc (The National Agricultural Research & Farm Advisory Body) to understand and model the complicated carbon emissions associated with agriculture through activities such as:
Examining the processing and packaging stages of the supply chain and integrating this insight with farm-level data to build a complete picture of the agricultural supply chain. The Origin Green programme has attracted significant buy-in at industry and farm level. By end 2013, 297 food and drink companies had registered their interest in becoming members and already 60% of food and drink exports are supplied by companies who are verified members of Origin Green. The target is to increase this to 75% by end 2014.
In engaging with farmers, processors and manufacturers, Bord Bia discovered that demonstrating a sound business case was fundamental to getting participation. However, this business case frequently goes beyond efficiencies and cost reduction to include a perceived market return – whether it be a preferred supplier contract, a new customer or increased business with an existing customer.
All this has led Bord Bia to recognise that the proper management of resources today matters and a better understanding of resource use will further enhance the Irish agri-food sector’s green reputation, save resources, reduce costs and building a healthier bottom line for the sector both at farm and food manufacturing level.
Read more about our work with Bord Bia and other leading companies in our report: Opportunities in a resource constrained world: How business is rising to the challenge