Dairy industry consults on new sustainability report ahead of UN summit

Game-changing ideas for Australian dairy’s role in a sustainable food system and opportunities to accelerate the industry’s sustainability targets emerged at the Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum in Melbourne on 13 May.

Reusing plastic waste, abating greenhouse gases and improving dietary patterns were among the ideas shared by a record turnout of representatives from the dairy supply chain and experts in sustainable food.

The forum, which is a registered independent dialogue ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, also showcased the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report 2020 which outlines progress towards the industry’s 2030 Goals. The report revealed some of the gains in sustainable development made by the Australian dairy industry in 2020 included:

  • an increase in total payments to dairy farmers,
  • further falls in routine calving induction,
  • improved water efficiency by dairy companies,
  • significant declines in greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturers, and
  • dairy continues to be recognised as part of a healthy diet in national guidelines and amongst consumers.

Outputs from the forum will inform a review of the commitments, goals, targets and indicators in the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework.

Chair of the Australian Dairy Industry Council and President of Australian Dairy Farmers, Terry Richardson, said the involvement of thought leaders across public health, climate, food systems and finance at the forum provided a broad perspective on dairy’s sustainability

“We have a responsibility to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals by 2030. As part of this, all food industries have been asked to focus on big game-changing initiatives that can help to achieve these goals and that was the objective of our forum.

“Australia’s dairy industry is well progressed in implementing a wide range of activities supporting the goals of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework.

“The forum provided an opportunity for us to stand back and take a look at where any changes can be made to help us reach these targets within this timeframe or hopefully earlier.

“Each of our Australian dairy farmers plays a critical role in driving progress towards our 2030 goals. Collaboration and effective dialogue across the industry will help us to further embed positive changes, as well as set further targets to deliver a sustainable, economically
viable industry for years to come,” Mr Richardson said.

Grant Crothers, President of Australian Dairy Products Federation, said the latest Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report includes a scorecard showing the industry’s progress towards meeting its 2030 farming and manufacturing sustainability goals and targets, which align with commitments across environment, animal welfare, human health and nutrition, people and communities.

“This is the dairy industry’s eighth sustainability report and it shows the consistent focus that is being applied across the supply chain to meet our sustainability targets. This is reflected in improved water use efficiency and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by dairy manufacturing companies."

“Sustainability is a key focus of the Australian Dairy Plan and the industry recognises that it is interdependent with community trust and critical to dairy’s long-term viability and our objective of providing nutritious food for a healthier world,” commented Mr Crothers.

For information on the Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework or to download the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report 2020 visit the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework website.