Bel and WWF committed to sustainable dairy upstream

Since 2012, we have worked with WWF France to reduce the environmental impact of dairy farming.

Understanding the impacts of dairy cow feed

In 2012, WWF France conducted a study to audit the feed of the dairy cows that produce the milk we collect. The purpose of the study was to identify ingredients in the feed that could be acted upon as a matter of priority.

The average food ration for a dairy cow consists of 80% fresh grass and fodder, and 20% supplementary feeding-stuffs (cereals, rapeseed, soy, sunflower…) to provide energy and proteins. More than 90% of the feed is grown locally, directly on the farms.

The study showed that although imported soy meal and PKE (Palm Kernel Expeller, a by-product of palm oil extraction) accounted for less than 5% of the composition of the cow feed, both ingredients have strong negative impacts on the environment, contributing to deforestation in particular.

In Europe, soy accounts for 60% of the deforestation linked to imported agricultural raw materials. Against this backdrop, WWF supports more sustainable farming models that encourage soy alternatives and pasture grazing for dairy cows. These themes are fully reflected in the Global Charter developed with the Bel Group.

Arnaud Gauffier

Head of Food and Agriculture, WWF-France

WWF France assessed the amount of soy and PKE meal used to produce the annual volume of milk required to make Bel cheeses.

Supporting the development of responsible industries

We took concrete action to support responsible soy meal and PKE production.

  • In 2014, Bel joined the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2015, to define sustainable farming standards.
  • We acquired certificates to offset the volume of soy (79,500 metric tons in 2018) and PKE (45,800 metric tons in 2018) used worldwide to make our products. Such purchases help establish industries and support local farmers adopt responsible farming methods.
  • We provided financial support to NGOs on the ground in Mato Grosso, Brazil to encourage sustainable soy farming, and in Borneo, Malaysia to help palm oil producers obtain RSPO certification.

To go further, the Group has committed to ensuring that soy and PKE meal come from sustainable and traceable RTRS and RSPO- certified sources by 2025.

Encouraging the use of local and GMO-free animal feed

In 2017, WWF France conducted a study on our behalf in France, the Netherlands and Slovakia to identify local alternatives to GMO soy.

Building on the results of this study, we decided to commit to using only 100% GMO-free animal feed by 2025. As a result, dairy farmers in France and Slovakia are already using GMO-free feed with their herds.

We are now exploring solutions region by region to achieve 100% local animal feed by taking into account the impacts on farms, local economy and the environment.

Jointly building a sustainable and lasting dairy industry

In 2018, we unveiled our Global Sustainable Upstream Dairy Charter and reiterated our willingness to invent a sustainable growth model with all the dairy industry players in our supply basins around the world.

This Charter guides our practices to 2025, to meet the dairy industry’s economic, social and environmental challenges and changing consumer expectations.