Bord Bia unveils plan to boost green credentials of food firms

 

A PLAN to get every Irish food and drink manufacturer signed up to an environmentally friendly charter by 2016 has been outlined by Bord Bia, the food board.

The voluntary “Origin Green” programme involves manufacturers setting targets in areas such as emissions, energy, waste, water, biodiversity, and corporate and social responsibility activities.

Once approved, successful members can use the Origin Green logo in their marketing and communications. Actor Saoirse Ronan has worked for free on the campaign by fronting a stirring audiovisual presentation on sustainability which can be viewed at origingreen.ie.

Bord Bia is already running a pilot Origin Green programme with Kerry Group; Glanbia (Dairy Ingredients Ireland); Marine Harvest; Country Crest; Dawn Farm Foods; Flahavans; Irish Distillers; ABP; and Errigal Seafood.

Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said he aimed to have 75 per cent of Irish food and drink exports sourced from Origin Green members by the end of 2014, and 100 per cent by the end of 2016.

He said the world was seeking to expand food production by 70 per cent over the next four decades while reducing greenhouse emissions by almost a similar amount. But, with farming needing the use of 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater supplies for irrigation, there were fears that the world would run out of water long before it ran out of oil. This had potential “for massive food shortages in 15 to 20 years’ time”, Mr Cotter said.

He said Ireland could be a world leader in sustainability.

“By the end of this year, most of our 32,000 beef farms will have been carbon footprinted and soon we will begin to roll out the measure across all 18,000 dairy enterprises. In this we are already a world leader. No other country anywhere in the world is carbon footprinting its farms on what is, in effect, a national scale.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the plan sent out “a very clear message about Ireland’s place in the food industry and our desire and our ability to be judged and to emerge shining with the highest international standards”.

He also urged manufacturers to never lose sight of the need to constantly evaluate their research and development and investment. “We don’t want to see a situation where people become in any way complacent,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney highlighted the connection between improving environmental sustainability and reducing production costs and improving profitability at farm and company level.

“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,” he said.

“I believe that the development of such sustainability programmes is an essential element in the growth strategy for the food sector and I encourage producers and companies alike to sign up.”

The announcement was made at Bord Bia’s Pathways for Growth Food and Drink Leadership Summit in Dublin yesterday.


Registration is now open on origingreen.ie