Irish food body launches sustainability campaign

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bord bia Sustainability

Irish food body launches sustainability campaign
Bord Bia has launched ‘Origin Green’, a campaign which the Irish food industry trade group believes will help Ireland become a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink.

The group announced the strategy to more than 120 food and drink industry leaders at its Pathways for Growth Food and Drink Leadership Summit yesterday at University College, Dublin.

The initiative will build on existing work at primary production level, said Bord Bia. It wants 75% of Irish food and drink exports to be sourced from signed up members to the programme before the end of 2014 and 100% by 2016.

Interested parties will sign up to a Sustainability Charter setting out targets in areas such as emissions, energy, waste, water, biodiversity and corporate social responsibility. Once approved, members that achieve these targets will be entitled to use the Origin Green logo as part of their trade marketing, communications and customer relations.

Pilot programme

As part of a pilot programme, Bord Bia is working with nine Irish food and drink companies. They are: Kerry Group, Glanbia (Dairy Ingredients Ireland), Marine Harvest, Country Crest, Dawn Farms, Flahavans, Irish Distillers, ABP Ireland and Errigal Seafood.

To support the development of the Origin Green, Bord Bia commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct extensive trade research with leading retailers, food manufacturers and foodservice organisations. These included Marks and Spencer, Unilever and McDonalds.

Results showed sustainability was now more deeply ingrained into retailers’ strategies than ever and that they saw sustainability criteria as a critical requirement for doing business.

“Environmental sustainability is an increasingly important issue for many international food and drinks companies and equally can underpin a national image for Ireland based on our mild, maritime climate, plentiful supplies of water and grass-based production,”​ said Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, speaking at the summit.

Credible means of measurement

Kenny said environmental sustainability was also strongly linked to cost savings and increasing profitability, but he added: “It is not enough to say that you have a clean, green product, you must be in a position to prove this through a credible means of measurement.”

Bord Bia chairman Michael Carey said: “The development of a sustainability programme to build Ireland’s brand reputation around green credentials is one of the four strategic priorities for Bord Bia over the next three years.

“In addition we will be focusing on enhancing competitiveness, promoting exports and building a vibrant domestic market for the agri-food sector.”

In 2011 Bord Bia implemented a national carbon footprint monitoring scheme for all Bord Bia Quality Assured beef farms. In 2012-2013 it aims to roll out a similar pilot scheme for the dairy industry across Ireland.  Measurement and performance criteria will also be introduced around water and biodiversity.

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