Organic Dairy Giant Aims to Offset More Carbon Than It Makes

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest certified organic dairy isn’t satisfied by just getting to carbon neutrality. It wants to go even further with a plan to reduce, capture or offset even more emissions than it produces.

Horizon Organic, a unit of Danone SA, is aiming to become “carbon positive” by 2025.

The plan could help boost the industry’s green credibility at a time when more people are choosing plant milks because of environmental concerns. Cattle emit the greenhouse gas methane as part of their digestive process (think cow burps, farts and manure), and vegan competitors have positioned themselves as the earth-friendly alternative to cow’s milk. Starbucks Corp. recently announced a shift to emphasize non-dairy options to reduce its carbon footprint.

Facing an unprecedented and protracted slump in demand for cow milk, the dairy industry is coming up with all sorts of innovations and marketing initiatives to win back consumers. Meanwhile, marketer Dairy Management has emphasized the farm practices and new technologies that have helped make the industry greener.

Milk futures were down about 0.3% in Chicago on Tuesday.

“We need to be a more social and environmentally friendly company,” Mariano Lozano, chief executive officer of Danone North America, said in an telephone interview. “Cows are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Horizon Organic will boost regenerative-agriculture efforts with its 600 family-farm partners to increase practices such as cover crops, crop rotations and reduced tillage. Cow-diet management will help reduce methane emissions.

A $15 million fund will help farmers to become more sustainable, potentially by cutting use of inputs such as fertilizer. Third parties including the Carbon Trust will verify the efforts.

“It makes business sense to reduce farmer inputs,” Lozano said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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