The group’s growth plans – which would see its annual organic dairy business in the UK grow from 180m to 270m litres – followed a strong year for the organic sector, with sales up 9.4% in the last 12 months.
Arla expected to source the initial part of the growth ambition for its organic business primarily through increased production from existing organic farmers.
It also announced a new set of criteria for its farmers producing organic milk, in addition to regular industry standards. Due to come into effect from January 2022, farmers will be measured against the Organic 2.0 on their contributions to soil health, impact on the climate and treatment of animals.
This will include conducting a carbon assessment of the soil to create a baseline for measuring further improvements, accelerate Arla’s 30% carbon dioxide emission reduction target from 2030 to 2028 and Increase the minimum number of days that cows are on grass from 120 to 150.
A full list of these new criteria can be found in the box below.
Organic dairy trend
Arla UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi said: “Just like in other parts of Europe, we believe the trend of organic dairy will continue to grow in the UK and with our new and improved organic standards we want to make it even more attractive for British consumers to choose organic when they are shopping in the dairy aisle.”
“Historically, organic farmers have often been the ones to establish new practices in these areas, and with these revised standards, they are once again forging new paths.”
In the UK, Arla sells its organic dairy products to a number of restaurants and food chains in the foodservice sector under the Arla Organic brand. At retail, Arla sells its organic milk, butter and cheese products through the Yeo Valley brand as part of its license partnership with Yeo Valley Farms and through retailer own labels.
Organic 2.0 criteria
• Conduct a carbon assessment of the soil to create a baseline for measuring further improvements in the soil carbon levels. The soil samples will be analysed by a third party laboratory to track progress on: organic matter, organic carbon, total carbon, total nitrogen and Carbon:Nitrogen ratio.
• From 2022: conduct an annual self-assessment of soil health indicators, for example, scoring assessments of soil smell, spading ease, and earthworm counts.
• On an annual basis self-assess and register biodiversity activities, for example, creation of flower-rich pollinator habitats, letting sections of the land grow naturally, planting hedgerows and allowing them to flower
• Implement a minimum of 7 out of 33 biodiversity conservation measures , which are included in a specially created “best practice” catalogue for Arla farmers
• Participate in Arla’s climate check programme (to track and reduce farm emissions)
• Accelerate Arla’s 30% CO2e reduction target from 2030 to 2028
• Convert to 100% green electricity from renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biogas, hydropower)
• Increase the minimum number of days that cows are on grass from 120 to 150
• Provide all animals above 6 months of age access to cow brushes – with a minimum requirement of one brush per 50 animals or one brush per robotic milking machine where relevant