Global food buyers are reacting very positively to Origin Green, Bord Bia’s new sustainability development programme for the €8.85bn Irish food and drink export industry.
Given its formal international launch yesterday at the food and drink expo Sial in Paris, Origin Green will give Ireland an advantage in competing for private label ingredients for large global food retail groups, an increasing number of whom are seeking to include sustainability stamps on their packaging.
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said: “All global retailers will eventually need to show that they are operating sustainability programmes, and sourcing ingredients produced in a way that is conscious of the environment. In terms of Ireland’s international reputation, Origin Green will be a real game changer.
“Ireland has taken a lead in this for now. We are a small country and we have been able to move quickly. New Zealand is also strong on sustainability, but they don’t produce the national scale survey that we do to help farmers to improve their scores on this issue.”
Origin Green capitalises on existing Bord Bia-led traceability programmes such as the beef quality assurance scheme, which costs €3.5m annually.
The new equivalent scheme for dairy will cost €1.4m annually. The audits of processing plants will be self-financing in that they will be paid for by the processing companies.
Bord Bia’s industry recruitment for Origin Green started in June and to date 79 companies, accounting for over 50% of Irish food and drink exports, have signed, including each of the 15 companies exhibiting at Sial this week. Of Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farms, 8,000 are already members of the beef scheme.
“This programme will be our unique selling point when it comes to Ireland competing for retail contracts,” said Mr Cotter. “The demand for proof of sustainability is coming from the premium players in the market.”
Already introduced to Irish food and drink industry leaders, Bord Bia chose Sial as the launch pad for Origin Green to get its message out to the expo’s 300 leading French food buyers, including retailers such as Carrefour and Monoprix, its 5,900 exhibitors from 100 countries and its 140,000 international visitors.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Agriculture Minister of State Shane McEntee also attended the launch.
Mr Kenny said: “Ireland has embarked upon an innovative sustainability development programme for the food and drink industry. We have not only a clear vision of where we should be going but the wherewithal to get there.
“Origin Green demonstrates the commitment of Irish food and drink manufacturers to operating sustainably and we believe it is the starting point for Ireland to become a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink.”