Global charter developed with WWF France introduces Bel’s commitments to sustainable upstream dairy farming

The Bel Group has been actively encouraging more responsible dairy production for several years now. By unveiling its Global Sustainable Upstream Dairy Charter, Bel today reiterates its commitment to going further and inventing sustainable farming models with all dairy industry players in the Group's supply basins around the world. Jointly prepared with WWF France, the global charter encompasses six strategic drivers, among which are pasture grazing and local and sustainable animal feeding. It will guide the evolving practices of the Group and the dairy producers with whom Bel works through 2025. The charter marks a new milestone in a partnership that has brought Bel and WWF France together to promote responsible dairy farming.

A sustainable upstream dairy industry is a key challenge for the Bel Group

The Bel Group endeavors to offer quality and increasingly responsible products to a growing number of consumers around the world. To that end, the company collects nearly two billion liters of milk annually from its 2,650 partner producers in 10 dairy supply basins across the globe 1.

Bel has been actively committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for over 15 years, and wants to contribute to dairy production that cares about humanity and preserves the planet’s resources. Through the charter, the Bel Group is opening the door to innovative practices, co-constructed with dairy farmers to encourage sustainable farming and create value for dairy industry players and consumers alike.

Bel’s responsibility is not limited to the scope of our activities,” explains Antoine Fiévet, Bel Group Chairman and CEO. “It extends across our entire value chain from the farm to the table. The global charter solidifies the partnerships that we have sought to develop with the dairy producers in our various supply basins. It will form the foundation of our shared endeavor to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the dairy industry and the changing expectations of consumers.

Six strategic drivers to develop more responsible dairy farming

The Global Sustainable Upstream Dairy Charter sets ambitious numerical targets in six strategic areas:

  • Sustainable farming models
  • Animal welfare,
  • Dairy cow access to pasture grazing,
  • Local and sustainable animal feeding,
  • Reducing dairy farming’s environmental footprint,
  • Dairy product nutritional quality.

“I believe that the company can play a major role in contributing to the life quality of the people with whom it has built ties,” says Magali Sartre, Bel Group Corporate Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility Director. “This can be accomplished by taking a humanistic and positive approach to our impact along with a strong commitment to preserving the environment. On that last point, the Bel Group decided to work with WWF France starting in 2012, to offer concrete solutions aimed at limiting the environmental impacts of dairy farming. This charter is the fruit of work undertaken jointly by our teams and WWF France teams over several years to encourage responsible dairy farming.”

The charter will be deployed in all 10 of the Group’s dairy supply basins, in cooperation with dairy farmer partners, and will take into account farming practices as they have evolved locally.

“Soy accounts for 60% of the deforestation that results from Europe’s importation of agricultural raw materials,” says Marie Christine Korniloff, Deputy Director for Global Business Relations at WWF France. “Against this backdrop, the WWF must support more sustainable production models, promote soy alternatives, and encourage access to grazing for dairy cows. These themes are fully in sync with the global charter that we have developed with the Bel Group.”

To establish practices that are increasingly innovative and adapted to the Group’s various supply regions, Bel will leverage pilot farms. The goal is threefold:

  • Identify already established and innovative approaches to responsible dairy farming among volunteer Bel dairy producers,
  • Assess these practices in terms of sustainability, profitability and feasibility,
  • Share these practices and deploy them to other dairy farmers.

The charter embodies the Group’s commitment to taking positive action across the entire value chain. Thanks to its “We care in every portion” program for sustainable growth, Bel is rolling out a farm-to-consumer improvement initiative for increasingly responsible brands built on the three pillars of sustainable farming, caring nutrition and a responsibly-managed environmental footprint of its activities.

2025 Targets, for each driver:

Farmer sustainability:

  • 100% of dairy farmers who supply milk to Bel have access to innovative societal schemes such as training, long-term contracts and loans, etc.

Animal welfare:

  • 100% of dairy farmers who supply milk to Bel are certified by a third party as compliant with the Bel Animal Welfare Charter.

Pasture grazing:

  • 100% of milk is collected from pasture grazed cows whenever feasible in regions with pastoral tradition 2.

Sustainable and local animal feeding:

  • 100% of animal feeding is non-GMO
  • 100% of imported soy and PKE comes from sustainable, traceable and certified supply chain systems (RTRS, RSPO or equivalent).

Environmental footprint:

  • An average 8% decline in global greenhouse gas emissions from the farms in our networks, versus 2017, based on targets designed as part of the Science Based Targets initiative 3,
  • 100% of dairy supply basins have action plans to strengthen their resilience against climate change and hydric stress.

Nutritional quality and safety:

  • 100% of dairy supply basins have explored means to improve the nutritional quality of their milk.

About Bel Group

The Bel Group is a world leader in branded cheese and a major player in the healthy snacks segment.

Its portfolio of differentiated and internationally recognized brands, including such products as The Laughing Cow®, Kiri®, Mini Babybel®, Leerdammer®, and Boursin®, as well as some 20 local brands, enabled the Group to generate sales of €3.3 billion in 2017. The acquisition of the MOM Group complements a portfolio of strong brands with the integration of the Pom’Potes and GoGo squeeZ brands.

12,700 employees in some 30 subsidiaries around the world contribute to the Group’s success. Bel products are prepared at 32 production sites and distributed in over 130 countries.

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About WWF France

The WWF is one of the very first independent environmental-protection organizations in the world. With an active network in more than 100 countries and the support of six million members worldwide, the WWF works to halt the destruction of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future where people live in harmony with nature by protecting global biological diversity, ensuring sustainable use of renewable natural resources and encouraging the reduction of pollution and waste.

Since 1973, WWF France has worked every day to ensure that future generations enjoy a living planet. With the support of its volunteers and its 220,000 donors, WWF France organizes concrete actions to save natural ecosystems and their species, ensure the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, train decision-makers, help businesses reduce their environmental footprint and educate the young. But for change to be accepted, it must take place in a manner that respects each individual. That is why the philosophy of the WWF is based on dialogue and action.

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1 The Azores, United States, France, Iran, Marocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Ukraine
2 Starting with France, Netherlands and the Azores.
3 Launched in June 2015, the Science Based Targets initiative is a collaboration between Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) to support member companies in setting emissions reduction targets consistent with global efforts to limit global warming to well below 2°C.