Dairy making strides toward a sustainable food system

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The Innovation Center for U.S Dairy® released the 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report, outlining progress to measure, communicate and improve the social, environmental and economic performance of the dairy industry.

“Together, we can meet the challenge to provide nourishing dairy foods and beverages to a growing population while facing a changing climate and finite natural resources,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of the Innovation Center and Dairy Management Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the dairy checkoff. “We are building partnerships, sharing knowledge and taking collective action to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that will help us meet this challenge efficiently and responsibly.”

Since the Innovation Center’s inception in 2007, steps the industry has taken include:

•   Completing a series of comprehensive life cycle assessments to understand the environmental impacts of dairy products from farm to table

•   Piloting a set of science-based Smart Tools to help the industry measure, manage and improve on those impacts

•   Developing the Stewardship and Sustainability Guide for U.S. Dairy to provide a voluntary framework for tracking and communicating the industry’s continuous improvement

 

Report highlights

• A focus on food waste. Forty percent of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten. Meanwhile, 49 million Americans are food-insecure. A 21st century sustainable food system must not only increase production with limited resources, but also address food waste and inefficiencies. The U.S. dairy industry is focused on developing partnerships that enable a cycle of feeding people first, then feeding animals and finally returning the nutrients to the land that grows our food.

• Delivering a range of healthy choices. Through individual and collaborative efforts with the Innovation Center, National Dairy Council® and Dairy Management Inc., dairy food companies, retailers and brands invest significant resources in nutrition research and product innovations that meet the needs of consumers. Through new product development and reformulation of existing products, dairy foods and beverages can meet a range of tastes and nutrition and health needs, as well as address other factors such as price and convenience.

• Wholesome milk starts with a cow’s healthy diet. To keep cows healthy and productive, dairy farmers work with animal nutritionists to combine ingredients that meet the nutritional requirements of their cows. Thirty-five percent of a cow’s feed is grown on the dairy farm, and the rest is usually sourced from local farmers and businesses. In addition, after producing food and beverages (such as orange juice) and material (such as cotton) for people, many companies pass along to dairy farmers the leftover, unused plant parts for use as nutritious feed for cows.

Healthy people, healthy products, healthy planet. Efficiency will be critical for increasing the world’s food production by an estimated 70% to feed a projected global population of 9.6 billion people by 2050. At the same time, responsibility is critical for assuring customers and consumers that the dairy foods and beverages they enjoy are nutritious, safe and environmentally sustainable.

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Rod Averbuch    
Chicago IL  |  June, 20, 2014 at 08:39 AM

The large amount of fresh food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain. The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables applications that encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill. The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint. Rod Averbuch Chicago, IL


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