Bel Group and WWF pact moves to force dairy unsustainability into submission

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Bel Group
©Bel Group
A collaboration between the Bel Group and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has introduced a global charter committing the French cheesemaker to a higher standard of sustainable dairy farming.

The Global Sustainable Upstream Dairy Charter holds the brands within the group’s product stable to account in the economic, social and environmental aspects touched upon in dairy production processes.

Bel’s responsibility is not limited to the scope of our activities,” ​said Antoine Fiévet, Bel Group chairman and CEO.

“It extends across our entire value chain from the farm to the table. The global charter solidifies the partnerships that we have sought to develop with the dairy producers in our various supply basins.

“It will form the foundation of our shared endeavour to meet the challenges of the dairy industry and the changing expectations of consumers.​”

Charter targets

The charter sets out six key areas the group will use as a guide to evolving its business practices. The intention is to meet the demands of one billion consumers in the healthy snacking market, outlined in its 2025 sustainable development strategy.

The charter aims to employ more sustainable farming models, in which 100% of dairy farmers who supply milk to Bel have access to schemes such as training, long-term contracts and loans.

Animal welfare concerns are now a priority as milk suppliers to Bel are to be certified by a third party as compliant with the Bel Animal Welfare Charter.

The group is also looking to collect all of its milk supply from pasture grazed cows whenever feasible in regions with pastoral tradition.

In addition, the group will now insist on non-GMO ingredients as a local and sustainable source of animal feed adding that it now imported all of its soy and palm kernel expellers (PKE) from sustainable, traceable and certified supply chain systems (RTRS, RSPO or equivalent).

“Soy accounts for 60% of the deforestation that results from Europe’s importation of agricultural raw materials,”​ said Marie Christine Korniloff, deputy director for global business relations at WWF France.

“Against this backdrop, the WWF must support more sustainable production models, promote soy alternatives, and encourage access to grazing for dairy cows. These themes are fully in sync with the global charter that we have developed with the Bel Group.”

Greenhouse gas reduction

Bel also added that it was reducing its environmental footprint, citing an average 8% decline in global greenhouse gas emissions from the farms in its networks.

Commenting on the initiative, Magali Sartre, Bel Group corporate communication and corporate social responsibility director said, “The company can play a major role in contributing to the life quality of the people with whom it has built ties.”

“This can be accomplished by taking a humanistic and positive approach to our impact along with a strong commitment to preserving the environment.”

The Bel Group, which has its headquarters based in Paris, recently released its 2017 financial figures in which it posted sales growth of 14%, primarily as a result of the MOM (Mont-Blanc Materne) group acquisition in 2016.

The MOM Group, which includes the Pom’Potes and GoGosqueeZ brands in France and the US join Bel’s portfolio of single-serving cheese brands like The Laughing Cow, Kiri, Mini Babybel, Leerdammer, and Boursin.

Bel also revealed net profit declines of 15.6%, attributed to rising dairy raw material prices.

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