ABP and Dale Farm, two of Northern Ireland’s major agri-food businesses, have joined forces to launch an initiative aimed at building a more sustainable market for dairy beef.
‘Horizon’ is the first collaborative scheme of its kind in Northern Ireland and will provide a guaranteed market for selectively bred dairy calves from Dale Farm members through the ABP supply chain. Underpinned by leading genetic research from ABP’s R&D farms across the UK and Ireland, Horizon will seek to respond to the increasing market demand for quality Northern Irish beef, sourced securely, within a shorter supply chain and with a reduced carbon footprint.
ABP and Dale Farm have built Horizon around environmental sustainability, product quality and farm-to-fork traceability, with a support structure provided to all participants to ensure high standards are adhered to. Animals will be bred following strict protocols enabling them to be marketed at 20-21 months, some four months below the UK average. This will ensure a significant reduction of emissions per animal resulting in a more carbon efficient and lower cost of production model overall.
Various options are available to participants on the Horizon scheme. Dale Farm members will have the option to breed part of their herd to selected Aberdeen Angus genetics. These calves will be collected by ABP, with a premium paid for achieving desired genetic traits.
Alternatively, Dale Farm or ABP farmers can opt to become a rearing farm for four-week-old calves. ABP will supply calf rearing inputs and provide support to maximise calf performance during the rearing period in terms of health and nutrition. In return, farmers must adhere to a strict animal welfare and feeding regime. They will receive a management fee per calf plus a bonus for performance targets achieved. The third option focuses on the finishing period. On farm research by ABP has demonstrated that the use of superior genetics can result in production savings of up to £100 per head. Farmers will be supported with expert input and advice to help achieve better growth rates, improved food conversion, enhanced animal welfare, best practice feeding regimes and grassland management. Finishing farms that follow best practice production efficiencies can achieve improved financial returns. Full product traceability will be guaranteed through the support of specialist partners within the scheme. Feed supplier United Feeds will deliver nutritional and technical advice whilst genetics experts from AI Services and Genus ABS will provide guidance and insights to farmers on the scheme. Nick Whelan, Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm commented: “Dale Farm’s core purpose is built around protecting the generational sustainability of our farmers’ businesses. This partnership with ABP will offer our members the opportunity to create a sustainable outlet for dairy bred male calves, in addition to an incremental revenue stream for participants.
“We have created a unique dairy beef scheme, driven by delivering genetic improvement through selective breeding. We have also designed Horizon to provide farmers with flexibility and control so they can continue to use their feed supplier of choice for cattle outside the scheme. Farmers will provide high quality calves into the Northern Ireland beef industry and, through the creation of a fully integrated supply chain, will enhance production efficiencies and reduce carbon footprint at farm level. This marks a significant opportunity for our farmer members and an important development for our business,” Nick Whelan said. George Mullan, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland added: “Dairy beef now accounts for a significant proportion of beef cattle in Northern Ireland. “Horizon will help create a sustainable future for Northern Irish Aberdeen Angus beef by fulfilling customer and consumer requirements for a product that adheres to stringent animal welfare and traceability standards and has the added competitive advantage of a reduced carbon footprint. We are delighted to partner with Northern Ireland’s leading dairy cooperative, Dale Farm, in launching this initiative,” said George Mullan. Horizon is now open for applications. Farmers seeking more information about their eligibility to participate or any element of the programme can contact Chris Frizzell at Dale Farm or Arthur Callaghan at ABP.
ABP Food Group has been taking part in a ground-breaking research project with assistance from the European Union which is aimed at redesigning the way food is produced, processed, consumed and recycled. ABP was selected to take part in the pan-European food partnership, EIT Food, back in 2017. EIT works as a consortium of over 50 partners from leading businesses, research centres and universities, including Queen’s University, to put Europe at the centre of a global revolution in food innovation and production, and its value to society. Its focus to create a future-proofed and effective food sector that delivers solutions to transform the traditional “produce-use-dispose” supply chain model into a circular bio-economy. As part of EIT, ABP is leading on a project that utilises the safe and effective use of 3D CT Scanning technology at its site in ABP Lurgan . The technology can accurately measure an animal’s composition and key features in 3D in order to advance improvements in the sustainable production, processing & consumption of beef & lamb. ABP is supported by Siemens who are world experts in high technology industry, software & advanced 3D scanning innovations along with Technische Universität München (TUM), a world leading technical institute in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Deep Learning for biomedical diagnosis & robotisation.
Sustainable, healthy food the consumer can trust The three companies are working to expand & adapt hardware & software elements of 3D CT scanning technologies to digitise a key link in the beef and lamb food chain. Exact recording of meat composition, form and structure soon after slaughter can provide data that will help reduce waste, increase quality/value and improve tractability. The system can provide accurate feedback for farmers helping them to rear their cattle more sustainable whilst retailers and consumers can access information on food quality and taste preferences. ABP takes the lead in all aspects of the project including project management, feasibility assessment, cost benefit analysis, new butchery techniques, new meat process designs, hardware design & build, IP protection as well as software performance specifications. Siemens is responsible for assessing the technological options to provide the best solution based on ABP’s requirements & input on system construction & implementation. TUM and Siemens are also designing & implementing advanced AI based software solutions to automatically interrogate the CT scans. These produce key composition outputs at high levels of accuracy and speed.
Data-driven decision making Commenting on the project, Declan McDonnell, ABP Food Group’s R&D Manager said, “Meat tissue has a high degree of variability in its composition. So the digitisation of beef and lamb in the supply chain will improve decision-making at all stages in the chain leading to improved quality and consistency as well as a more environmentally sustainable product”. Benefits of this world-first project include: • Informing breeding genetics to maximise, minimise waste & reduce feed usage • Informing husbandry practices to finish animals earlier with optimum feed regimes and avoidance of unnecessary over-fattening • Enabling the processor to sort and match animal part composition to customer & consumer needs (eg fat content, portion size etc.)
“The digitisation of beef & lamb production is forming the foundation for a connected data flow in a consumer centric food system from farmer, processor to consumer and enabling the industry to produce product with optimum nutritional composition,” continued Declan.
ABP has confirmed that its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). This process demonstrates the company’s commitment to aligning its sustainability strategy to the global climate change goals as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The new targets include ghg emissions across ABP’s business operations (scope 1 & 2 emissions) and its supply chain (scope 3 emissions). ABP has committed to reducing its scope 1&2 emissions by 27% by 2030 against a base year of 2016. The company has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions across its operations by 28% since the beginning of its sustainability programme in 2008. ABP is also committed to leading a reduction of 17% in scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions coming from the supply chain by 2030. The SBTi is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The initiative uses the latest available climate science to define best practice in science-based target setting and independently assesses companies’ targets against its validation criteria Some of ABP’s best practice initiatives which are already underway include:
Last month, ABP In conjunction with Teagasc and The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation announced results from its dairy beef genetic research programme, demonstrating a significant shift in carbon reductions in dairy beef. The findings have proven that is possible to reduce emissions by up to 28% in the dairy beef herd.
ABP opened the world’s first certified carbon neutral abattoir in Ellesmere in 2015, where waste from the meat processing operation is used in conjunction with used cooking oil to provide the energy requirements for the site. ABP’s renewables division, Olleco, has helped Arla’s milk processing facility in Aylesbury to become the first carbon net zero milk processing facility in the world. Olleco’s anaerobic digestion plant in Aylesbury is located adjacent to the milk processing site where it converts waste from the dairy into heat, power and bio-methane for export to the national grid, and bio-fertiliser for farmers. The facility produces enough sustainable energy to power the equivalent of 12,000 homes.
The company has introduced heat recovery programmes at a number of processing sites including ABP Cahir, ABP Wessex and C&D Esbjerg. These sites have harnessed waste heat from a number of processes and used it to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption. Commenting on the announcement, Martin Kane, Managing Director of ABP Ireland said: “We are delighted to have our targets validated by the SBTi. The validation of our targets clearly maps the carbon reduction journey required by ABP so that we can play our part in helping reduce global emissions. We have already made great progress since the introduction of our sustainability strategy in 2008 and we look forward to building on that progress and accelerating our work as we now look to 2030 and beyond.”
ABP was awarded the overall Sustainability Award at the recent Bord Bia Food and Drink Awards, held in the RDS in Dublin. The prestigious award recognises ABP’s success for creating a culture of sustainability throughout the business and in achieving its ambitious 2020 sustainability targets ahead of schedule. The company’s sustainability strategy “Doing more with Less” is closely aligned to the UN Sustainable Goals. This strategy encompasses the entire supply chain from farms, to processing sites and the end consumer.
Last week, ABP In conjunction with Teagasc and The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation announced results results from its dairy beef genetic research programme, demonstrating a significant shift in carbon reductions in dairy beef. The findings have proven that is possible to reduce emissions by up to 28% in the dairy beef herd.
Dean Holroyd, Group Technical and Sustainability Director, ABP said: “ABP is honoured to receive this outstanding industry award. It is extremely gratifying to be recognised for the work done by all of the employees across ABP in ensuring that sustainability is a key priority for the company, and permeates all of our work. We will continue to strive to develop and execute new and innovative ways to reduce our environmental impact as we embark on introducing science based targets to our business.”
ABP is a founder member of the Plastics Action Alliance group, along with other agri-food companies, that have the collective aim of making plastic packaging in their respective supply chains more sustainable. The Bord Bia Food and Drink Awards recognises excellence across the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry. The Awards are open to companies that produce and market products from the Republic of Ireland, who are verified members of Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme.
ABP has today announced the introduction of new sustainable packaging for a number of its European customers. The move will see a reduction of 70% of the amount of plastics used to package its meat products. The packaging includes recyclable card coupled with thin film of peel away plastic. The new development does not impact on the shelf life of the product.
The packaging is being introduced on ABP’s Goodherdsmen organic meat products and will extend to other product ranges in the near future. ABP revealed the new packaging at the Anuga Food Fair in Cologne this weekend. Anuga is the world’s largest annual exhibition for the food and beverage market.
“We have placed a very strong emphasis on our sustainable strategy across all our supply chain processes including energy use, water consumption, renewable energy and packaging,” said John Purcell, Managing Director of Goodherdsmen, ABP’s Organic division. “This very important work is ongoing and we are now pleased to announce the introduction of this new packaging for German customers which we hope to extend to other products shortly.”
As well as the reduction of 70% in plastic, other attributes of the new packaging include the fact it is 10 grams lighter than the plastic tray it will replace; the card used is sourced from PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certified forests; the plastic film is easy to remove from card for recycling; the card is recyclable with paper and board; and significantly for the consumer, the packaging has better presentation and is more attractive packaging. ABP have also incorporated a euro hook hole into the card design, allowing retails to now “hang” the packs in their retail fridges. This new innovative way of “hanging” the packs rather than the traditional shelving allows better circulation of chilled air, more contemporary merchandising techniques and better planogram design.
In Ireland, ABP this year became a founder member of Plastics Action Alliance, a collaboration of nine of Ireland’s leading agricultural processing and food businesses that have come together to make the plastic packaging in their respective supply chains more sustainable. The alliance includes market leaders from Ireland’s beef, poultry, pork, lamb, fruit, vegetables and packed salad sectors.
ABP has this month recorded success at two prestigious international sustainability award ceremonies. ABP was awarded the Sustainable Supplier Award by International Food Service and Production Group OSI in Munich this week. The company was also presented with a Sustainability Leadership Award at the Sustainable Food Awards 2019 in Amsterdam.
Both international awards recognise ABP’s overall leadership and commitment to excellence in various aspects of sustainability, including: packaging, manufacturing processes, energy sources and use, climate change, water management, waste management, resource usage, customer-supplier partnerships, and CSR and corporate philanthropy.
ABP is on track to achieve its ambitious 2020 sustainability targets ahead of schedule, with a cumulative C02 emission reduction of 350,000 tonnes since 2008. The company will soon become the first Irish meat processor to measure its environmental impact against science based targets. The new science based reporting will be against a 2016 baseline.
Dave O’Connell, ABP’s Commercial Director, said: “ABP is delighted to be acknowledged by two international awards. These awards are a great endorsement of all the work that is underway across our business to reduce our environmental footprint. The company continually strives to find new and innovative ways to improve our performance. We are looking forward to the challenge of adopting a science based measurement tool for our carbon reduction programme, which will closely align our sustainability agenda with the goals of the Paris climate accord.”
ABP is a founder-member of the recently formed Plastics Action Alliance group, along with other agri-food companies, that have the collective aim of making plastic packaging in their respective supply chains more sustainable.
The Sustainable Food Awards were launched by Ecovia Intelligence in 2018 and are the first awards in the international food industry that are fully dedicated to sustainability. The awards are co-hosted alongside the European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit, an international summit that focuses on the leading issues the food industry faces concerning sustainability. OSI Group is a global food processing and distribution company which supplies many of the leading global food service and restaurant brands and is an ABP customer. The sustainability award recognises leadership and innovation in sustainable practices.
The renewables division of ABP, Olleco, has been shortlisted for a prestigious "Circular" sustainability award for its development of a circular economy model with McDonald’s and Arla Foods in the UK. The awards are an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders and winners will be announced at the Forum's annual meeting in Davos in January 2019. Olleco is one of just six companies shortlisted in one of the competitive enterprise categories.
The award nomination is for the transformational “closed loop” circular economy model which Olleco have developed with McDonald’s and Arla Foods. Olleco collects oil and food waste from McDonald’s restaurants and converts it into bio-fuel and renewable energy. The bio-fuel is used in McDonalds’s transport fleet while the renewable energy is used to process milk at Arla's dairy which they then supply to McDonald’s. Environmentally friendly fertiliser produced during the energy generation process is also be used by farmers at the start of the supply chain.
Robert Behan, CEO OF ABP’s renewable division Olleco said: “We are delighted to have made the shortlist. This is a strong testament to the hard work of every one of our nearly 1000 strong staff who are dedicated to delivering innovative circular economy solutions. We are also hugely privileged to work with some of the most forward-thinking businesses in the food industry and I would particularly like to thank Arla Foods and McDonald's restaurants for choosing to partner with us as they transform their operations to make food sustainable.”
The Circulars Award Programme was created to honour businesses, organisations and individuals which have made an outstanding contribution to the development of a circular economy.
To learn more about the concept please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AguyUYZzi8E
Initial results from trials on ABP’s Research and Development Farm have indicated the potential for a 13% carbon reduction through the use of improved genetics in beef animals from the dairy herd. The findings were announced to an influential international delegation of sustainability practitioners from the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), and are part of a multi-year project carried out on the farm by ABP in conjunction with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Teagasc.
The announcement has been made to coincide with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which took place in Ireland this week. ABP hosted a high-powered international delegation to its Research & Development farm. The GRSB is made up of some of the leading figures in the beef industry, and is a platform to bring these stakeholders together to reinforce a common agenda of establishing and maintaining sustainable practices in the beef sector.
Visitors to the ABP farm included delegates from Europe, North America, South America and Africa. NGO’s were represented by delegates from the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
Commenting on the findings, Dean Holroyd, ABP’s Technical and Sustainability Director said: “This exciting research has highlighted the significance of better genetics and the overall role it can play in helping to develop a more sustainable dairy beef production model. This project is another important milestone in our carbon reduction journey, where we have made very significant progress and have hit our 2020 carbon reduction target two years ahead of schedule.”
ABP is recognised as an industry leader when it comes to sustainable practices and environmental initiatives. In 2017, ABP became the first company to be awarded quadruple accreditation from the Carbon Trust in recognition of the progress it is making in reducing its environmental impact. The Carbon Trust Standard is the world’s leading independent certification of an organisation’s impact on the environment, verifying action on energy use, CO2 emissions, water use and waste output. It recognises continuous excellence and year on year improvements in the area of environmental performance.
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Sustainability is a multi-stakeholder platform focused on beef sustainability across the European region ad across all aspects of the value chain, from farm to fork.