Australian Dairy Industry Council, VIC
The Australian dairy industry is worth $13 billion to the Australian economy and directly employs 43,000 people. Dairy foods, with their rich source of nutrients, have contributed to the health of generations of Australians. In 2014, we produced 9.24 billion litres of milk. We each consumed 106 litres of milk and 13 kilograms of cheese.
A whole-of-chain approachIncreasingly, our customers and the community are demanding proof that we are doing theright thing by people, animals and our planet. Given the complexity of the value chain fromraising and milking cows to producing products, we recognised that a cohesive approachwas needed to demonstrate Australian dairy’s commitment to sustainability, to align our efforts, and to continuously improve performance.
We have taken a whole-of-chain approach to sustainability through the creation and adoption of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework – an initiative of the Australian Dairy Industry Council with key partners Australian Dairy Farmers Ltd, Australian Dairy Products Federation and Dairy Australia. It incorporates the extended dairy value chain from feed production to manufacturing, retail and packaging.
Endorsed by industry in 2012, the Framework centres on three themes – enhancing livelihoods, improving wellbeing, and reducing environmental impact. In 2013, 11 targets with 41 measures were set for 2020 focussed on profitability, community resilience, OH&S, skills, product safety, nutrition, animal care, and environmental impact. Implementation began in 2014 and we report annually on progress in a cycle of “report, review, refine, revise” to allow for changing customer and community expectations, advances in technology and emerging issues.
The Framework underpins the industry’s commitment to be responsible managers of natural resources in theproduction of dairy products. It also drives improved performance in sustainable food practices from the farmto the factory.
they are eating are sustainable
Consultation is key
Stakeholder dialogue within and outside the industry informed every stage of the Framework development to include multiple perspectives and expertise. Over the past three years a national consultation process based onInternational Association for Public Participation (IAP2) principles has involved farmers, manufacturers, interestgroups, customers, retailers, suppliers and government.
Consultation is ongoing under a strong governance structure. A Steering Committee of farmer and
manufacturer representatives, with support from Dairy Australia, oversees implementation under direction ofthe Australian Dairy Industry Council. Manufacturers participate via the Australian Dairy Products Federationand individual company representatives whose companies account for over 90% of Australian dairy foodproduction.
A Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum of experts has also been established to promote two-way discussionon the Framework and ensure it meets industry, community and customer needs. It convenes twice a year,providing a “reality check” for the industry, including feedback on emerging issues and trends.
Results and impact
Through the Framework, the spotlight has been turned onto sustainable dairy food production. Manufacturers large and small are adopting its targets as their own to show customers that their products are sustainable —economically, socially and environmentally.
In particular, dairy manufacturers are working to reduce water use by 20%, greenhouse gas intensity by 30%and waste to landfill by 40%. Manufacturers are also working closely with their farmer-suppliers to encouragesustainable practices on farms in line with targets.
Innovative techniques and technologies are showcased through the Framework, for example Devondale MurrayGoulburn’s two new milk processing plants which deliver significant environmental efficiencies.
Our customers are also taking notice. Based on the Framework, Unilever has given Australian dairy productionaccreditation as meeting its exacting Sustainable Agriculture Code. All Australian milk is now deemed to contribute to Unilever’s sustainable sourcing goal.