Origin Green has grown to collaborate with 55,000 farms and more than 300 leading Irish food and drink companies to improve their sustainability practices.
Irish food producers across the realms of dairy as well as beef and lamb as well as food processing have reduced CO2 emissions in the past year.
The news comes as Bord Bia revealed that 50 Irish food, drink and horticulture companies achieved gold membership status as part of the Green Orgin programme, marking a 100pc increase on last year.
“Origin Green will continue to evolve and adapt to best support our members to drive positive and lasting change across the supply chain”
According to Origin Green’s Progress Update Report 2021 sustainable beef and lamb assurance scheme (SBLAS) members recorded a 6.3pc average reduction in CO2 per unit of beef.
Sustainable dairy assurance scheme (SDAS) members recorded a 6% average reduction in CO2 per unit of milk
A subset of 400 SDAS members have decreased their average carbon footprint over three consecutive cycles of audits by 18pc.
Manufacturing members of the programme have set a total of 2,779 sustainability targets and established 13,600 sustainability initiatives since the programme launched nine years ago
In retail and foodservice, Origin Green’s 10 verified members represent circa 75pc of the Irish retail market and have set a total of 165 sustainability targets across the areas of sustainable sourcing, operations, health and nutrition and social sustainability.
The scale to make a difference
“This evidence of environmental improvements compiled from our members, and verified by international auditors Mabbett, highlights that the programme’s vast scale across the Irish food and drink industry are what makes Origin Green unique and effective,” said Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.
“Our recent Global Sustainability Survey of over 11,000 consumers and 125 trade buyers across 13 key markets demonstrated, not only the increasing importance of sustainability, but also the growing importance of evidence and data to back up sustainability. Our members are responding to this, by setting and achieving meaningful sustainability goals in their businesses. Origin Green will continue to evolve and adapt to best support our members to drive positive and lasting change across the supply chain.”
The scale and scope of the Origin Green programme continues to produce important results, with 290,000 carbon footprints calculated to date at farm level and over 53,000 farm audits carried out remotely since last year due to Covid-19. To date this year, over 21,000 farmer feedback reports have been distributed to SBLAS and SDAS members to inform them of their farm’s specific carbon footprint, and provide targeted and practical guidance to farmers on how to manage their inputs in a more environmentally efficient way.
“Origin Green provides an invaluable road map to the industry as to how to address the sustainability challenge,” said Roisin O’Shea, head of Food & Drink Sector at Bank of Ireland.
“As a formal framework it supports a rigorous, data lead approach that will help the industry show clear proof points on its journey towards increased sustainability. The sustainability conversation is Increasingly this is becoming part of supplier/retailer discussion and a strong sustainability plan can offer a real competitive advantage that moves the conversation away from price alone.”
Acknowledging that Ireland’s agri-food sector needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions, Bord Bia made recent adaptations to the Origin Green programme focused on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) within the industry.
Until recently, emissions reduction was optional for Origin Green members. However, with the introduction of the Origin Green credit system, larger companies are now required to establish emissions targets from the 2021 reporting year onwards.
This marks a significant shift for the Origin Green programme and will see member companies go beyond reductions of energy-related emissions, to include a more comprehensive assessment of their entire carbon footprint, including value chain emissions which incorporates all indirect emissions (scope 3) associated with food manufacturing e.g. freight, travel.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce that 50 member companies have achieved Gold Member status this year, excelling in their sustainability targets and demonstrating industry leading ambitions and results,” said Deirdre Ryan, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Assurance with Bord Bia.
“This increase in Gold Members reflects the value companies are setting on this higher accreditation to differentiate themselves from the competition in the marketplace; and the meaningful focus companies are now giving to their sustainability efforts in response to the urgency of climate change and the need for sustainable development.”
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD, said that sustainability is at the centre of Food Vision 2030, the new ten-year strategy for the Irish agri-food sector.
“The commitments in the strategy are substantial, and have the potential to be transformative. Food Vision 2030 charts a way forward for all of us in the agri-food sector to deliver on its key ambition – for Ireland to become ‘A World Leader in Sustainable Food Systems.’
“The requirement to deliver continuous improvement and proof of environmental sustainability comes from a powerful combination of changing societal and consumer demands; and the requirements of major trade customers for Irish food and drink. Of direct relevance is the strategy’s goal to strengthen and invest in Origin Green and other sustainability supports to reflect the higher level of ambition for the agri-food sector.”