Bord Bia is set to launch what it is claiming is the world’s first national grass-fed dairy standard – which will allow suppliers and processors to provide verifiable proof their milk came from grass-fed cows.
Developed by Teagasc – the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority – the Bord Bia Grass Fed Standard acknowledged “the growing consumer demand for greater clarity on the provenance of food and drink products” as well as the desire to purchase dairy from sustainable, grass-fed farming systems, Bord Bia said.
Irish dairy products carrying a Grass Fed Standard logo are expecting to start appearing later this year, it added.
In order to qualify for the standard, the minimum acceptable grass-fed figure for an individual herd was 90% on a fresh weight basis. Milk pooled from various dairy processors for processing must achieve a grass-fed average of 95%.
With Irish dairy cows spending on average 240 full days a year out on pasture, Bord Bia expected 99% of Irish dairy farms would meet the new standard’s qualifying threshold.
The development of the standard came as consumers were becoming increasingly aware of the quality credentials and taste benefits of grass-fed dairy, it added, with research for the body showing that grass-fed systems influenced 50% of consumers globally in their choice of dairy, while a further 58% stated they would be willing to pay more for grass-fed dairy products.
“Dairy from Ireland has always been rooted in a grass-based production system,” said Bord Bia senior dairy manager Mary Morrissey. “Our green fields, fresh clean air and plentiful rain has created the perfect environment for dairy farming which converts grass into nutrient-rich, premium quality dairy products and ingredients.”
The creation of the new standard would allow producers using Irish dairy to differentiate their product to buyers across the foodservice and retail markets, while also appealing to consumers “who are increasingly seeking granular detail on the narrative and provenance of the products they buy”, she added.
“Since the beginning of this year, the continued close relationship between the Irish dairy industry and the UK is evident with over £1m worth of exports hitting UK shelves, ensuring availability of core dairy products to the UK market. This initiative further strengthens this relationship and reinforces the trust UK consumers have in the high quality and sustainable farming methods of produce from Ireland.”