The long term dairy sector

Because milk is the basic ingredient in cheese making, Bel closely monitors developments that could impact the future of the dairy industry. Sustainable dairy production and quality depend directly on the sustainability of dairy farms, dairy feed and dairy cow well-being.

Curbing the environmental impact of dairy farming

Bel is committed to reducing the environmental impact of each step in the dairy industry, from dairy cow feeding to milk production.

In 2016, Bel acquired RTRS and RSPO credits to cover the 71,885metric tons of soy meal and 41,622 metric tons of palm meal used by producers in dairy cow feed to supply the liquid milk the Group uses in France, Portugal, Slovakia, and Poland. Those credits do not cover the liquid milk collected from Dutch dairy producers, since that supply is covered by credits purchased in the Netherlands’ dairy sector. All told, the Group covers 100% of the soy and PKE used in the feed of the dairy cows that produce its milk in Europe.

Further, along with the WWF, the Group continues to study alternatives to using soy imports to France, to complement its RTRS credit purchases.

Bel has been a pioneer in France in dealing with the issue of dairy production-related deforestation. We would like to see this initiative extended across the entire dairy sector.

Arnaud Gauffier

Head of Food and Agriculture at WWF France

Beyond the WWF partnership, the Group supports its dairy producers by helping them to improve their economic and environmental effectiveness. For example, Bel offers producers an array of diagnostic and advisory tools, if needed, to manage energy usage at their farms, optimize dairy cow feed and use mineral crop fertilizer.

In the Netherlands, Bel has set up training and sharing workshops with dairy famers and independent experts to promote best practices, notably in the area of dairy farm energy usage. The focus is on sharing best practices among producers. So far, at least 25% of Bel dairy suppliers have been trained.

In France, Bel has contributed its expertise to the “Life Carbon Dairy” project spearheaded by the French dairy profession and aimed at cutting the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2024.

Caring about dairy cow well-being

The Bel Group’s foremost priority is to offer its consumers healthy and quality products. Dairy quality, however, is dependent on good animal health and welfare. This is a sensitive subject, and Bel works with its partners to ensure the best possible animal well-being. To that end, the Group supports the best practices of its dairy producers, mainly in France and the Netherlands, which together account for over 70% of Bel’s milk collection.

In the Netherlands, 23% of Bel’s producer partners have deployed the Cow Compass, which helps guide dairy farmers and improve their practices, particularly in the area of animal well-being.

In France, all Bel’s dairy producers adhere to the “Dairy Farmer Best Practices Charter”, which takes into account dairy herd health, animal feed, milk quality, animal well-being, personnel safety, and environmental protection. Producers are audited regularly to ensure they have met the commitments under the charter and to continuously improve dairy farming practices.

We are convinced there is a link between dairy production quality and dairy cow well-being. It's why, working hand in hand, with our dairy farmers, we ensure that the right conditions are in place for good animal health and well-being.

Vincent Delaunay

Corporate Dairy Production Specialist