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IDFA Members Help DMI, U. of Arkansas to Analyze Milk's Carbon Footprint

Mar 03, 2008

IDFA Members Help DMI, U. of Arkansas to Analyze Milk's Carbon Footprint

A number of IDFA member companies currently are participating in a fluid milk lifecycle analysis designed to quantify the amount of energy used and greenhouse gases emitted — also known as the dairy industry's carbon footprint — during the production of their products. The members are working with Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), which is coordinating the carbon footprint analysis with the University of Arkansas' Applied Sustainability Center.

"The carbon footprint analysis will enable the dairy industry to establish credible and reliable data that can withstand scrutiny in the climate change debate," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, who is leading IDFA's sustainability efforts. "The results will also help members respond to market demands for carbon reductions."

According to Detlefsen, many major retailers are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain. The analysis is designed to help all fluid milk processors quantify energy consumption and identify ways they can increase efficiencies and reduce energy costs.

More specifically, the lifecycle analysis will help address requests for detailed information about fluid milk's carbon footprint from Wal-Mart, one of the largest customers for fluid milk in the country. Seeking carbon reductions throughout its supply chain, Wal-Mart has included milk as one of the first products to consider in the company's sustainability efforts.

As part of the lifecycle analysis, the University of Arkansas is conducting a survey to identify energy usage at all stages of the fluid milk supply chain — from on-farm production and product processing through distribution and consumer consumption. The survey will look at differences in equipment and operating practices, as well as differences resulting from regional energy use, plant size and other factors.

When the survey is completed later this year, DMI plans to convene a two-day stakeholder meeting to be hosted and facilitated by the University of Arkansas. The meeting will include dairy farmers, fluid milk processors, packaging companies, Wal-Mart and representatives of non-governmental organizations that are focused on climate change.

Meeting attendees will hear the survey results and discuss possible innovations that could reduce the carbon footprint of fluid milk, as well as increase sales. Some of the proposed ideas will be pilot tested, and test results will be made available to the dairy industry.

After the meeting, faculty members of the university's Applied Sustainability Center will prepare manuscripts on fluid milk's carbon footprint for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

For more information, contact Detlefsen at or 202-220-3554.

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Posted March 3, 2008

Dairy Delivers