Milk provides more nutrition for less emissions

Posted: 29 April 2014 | Arla | No comments yet

Milk is a good choice if you want a relatively affordable food product with a low impact on climate, in relation to its high nutritional value…

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Milk is a good choice if you want a relatively affordable food product with a low impact on climate, in relation to its high nutritional value. New research suggests that milk has a high sustainability score and Arla aims to make it even higher by lowering emissions from farming, production, transport and packaging.


New research suggests that milk has a high sustainability score

For years the environmental impact of different foods has been discussed by researchers. But recent research into sustainable diets is pointing towards taking the nutritional aspect into account when it comes to considering the environmental cost of individual foods.

According to a new study from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , milk is one of the food sources that makes the most sense to eat when you look at both the nutritional value and the environmental impact. And at the same time, it’s a relatively affordable food product that a growing number of people in the world will be able to include in their daily diets.

“We believe that our products play a natural and important part of a sustainable diet. With a growing population, people’s access to safe and nutritious food and our use of the earth’s resources will increasingly be an issue. This development is a business opportunity for Arla and its dairy farmers, because we see ourselves as being part of the solution,” explains Jais Valeur, Executive Vice President, Global Categories and Operations in Arla.

Maintaining health benefits while reducing emissions

Milk and dairy products are a core part of dietary recommendations around the world, because they are affordable and accessible, rich in nutrients and provide high quality protein and many essential vitamins and minerals .

Jais Valeur points to the fact that Arla will be even more focused on maintaining the health benefits of its products, while continuously reducing its carbon footprint per kilo of milk. This will happen through investments, research and innovation, in cooperation with the best scientists and suppliers of dairy technology.

Arla aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 25 per cent from production, transport and packaging, by 2020 (compared to the 2005 baseline). And with the recent Sustainable Dairy Farming strategy, Arla is committed to reduce the carbon footprint per kilogramme of milk by 30 per cent at farm level, by 2020 (compared to the levels of 1990).

“Among Arla’s owners, we have some of the world’s most efficient dairy farmers, when it comes to reducing carbon footprint per kilo of milk. We are now using their farm management procedures and our new research in this area, to help and inspire more Arla farmers and further reduce our total emissions,” says Jais Valeur. 

What is a sustainable diet?

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) defines sustainable diets as “those diets with low environmental impact, which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy, while optimising natural and human resources.” 


  • According to FAO, milk is one of the most unique foods because of its highly nutritious content and its role in human nutrition.
  • Foods of animal origin contain high amounts of essential nutrients and reducing their intake at may be challenging, especially in countries in which the population has a documented risk of nutrient deficiencies;
  • Calcium from milk and dairy products is the easiest to absorb by the human body  and calcium intake is particularly affected when dairy is excluded from the diet;
  • Global dairy production contributes to less than three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions ; European dairy farmers, in general, of which 12,600 are Arla owners, are among the most efficient and sustainable milk producers in the world.