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Cadbury tackles burping cows to reduce milk chocolate carbon footprint

By Lindsey Partos , 02-Mar-2009

Chocolate maker Cadbury will work closely with UK dairy farmers in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of its iconic milk chocolate bar.

In partnership with the UK's Carbon Trust, Cadbury calculated that milk in their milk chocolate product contributes just over 60 per cent of carbon emissions, largely hailing from the dairy cows.

 

The average dairy cow emits between 80kg to 120kg of the potent greenhouse gas methane each year, the equivalent to emissions produced by driving an average family car for a year, says Cadbury.

 

The chocolate firm is one of many food companies that have turned to the Carbon Trust for a complete analysis of carbon emissions in the supply chain.

 

"We've been approached by more than 200 companies who want to work with us, and the bulk of interest is coming from food and beverage companies," Euan Murray, carbon footprinting general manager at the Carbon Trust told ConfectioneryNews.com.

 

Set up in 2001 by the UK government, the Carbon Trust aims to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, working with industry and organisations to slash carbon emissions and to develop commercial low carbon technologies.

 

Delivering a tight analysis of emissions in Cadbury's supply chain for dairy milk chocolate product, the final data revealed that milk was, by far, the dominant carbon contributor.

 

"Approximately 60 per cent hailed from milk that goes into the chocolate product, that includes methane from cows and nitrogen dioxide - a potent greehouse gas - from fertilisers," said Murray.

 

Cadbury's realised the way forward was to work closely with the farmers. "They didn't pass the buck," added Murray.

 

Pilot programme targets dairy farming

 

Instead, last month the UK confectionery group unveiled its Cadbury Dairy strategy, a pilot programme that sees the chocolate firm working with 'flagship' dairy farmers in Selkley Vale in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, to"provide practical advice to help farmers reduce emissions," said Cadbury.

 

Input from the firm includes a best practice guide to reduce the carbon impact of dairy farming. Greenhouse gases targeted by the guide are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which contribute 23, 25 and 52 per cent of emissions from the average dairy farm, respectively.

 

The guide seeks to slash these emissions through changes to farm management practises such as: upping a cow's clover consumption so it burps less; improving herd health and welfare; optimising milk yields; reducing the fibre levels and increasing the starch level of cow feed.

 

In terms of fertilisers, the Cadbury advice encourages "prudent use", timed to minimise wastage as well as avoiding excess use of inorganic fertilisers.

 

"Cadbury has shared the learnings with external stakeholders, such as BITC, and key customers including Asda," said the chocolate company.

 

The dairy partnership is part of Cadbury's 'Purple Goes Green' strategy, for which the chocolate firm has committed to an "absolute reduction" in carbon emissions of 50 per cent by 2020.

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