In 2007, the dairy industry came under increasing pressure from NGOs, retailers and consumers to reduce its carbon emissions. Instead of going on the defensive The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy asserted that using a lens of sustainability the industry could:
- Identify inefficiencies and therefore cost savings all along the value chain
- Foster innovations to improve practices, profit margins, and the environment
- Position the industry as an environmental leader with key stakeholders
Many stakeholders in the dairy value chain, including farmers, viewed sustainability as a potential source of regulation and not part of their core business. In addition, there was little trust between actors in the value chain. Blu Skye saw the opportunity to unify the industry’s leaders around a common vision that emphasized the business value of sustainability. The first step was to create a footprint for U.S. dairy products that provided an objective set of facts around which a desire for action could be created.
- Measure what matters: we conducted a carbon footprint that identified the sources of carbon emissions from the farm to retail shelf.
- Identify the opportunities: we found the people, ideas and technologies capable of reducing carbon while creating a potential $250 million of additional business value.
- Created a clear vision for sustainability that was adopted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Board. This included an ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by the year 2020.
- Recognized by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the 2010 Copenhagen Climate Summit as model for how agriculture should address climate change in a way that creates business value and environmental benefits.
“Any firm can write a white paper, conduct an environmental impact assessment, or tell you about sustainability and the opportunities, but it is more difficult to find a partner to help you capture stakeholder imagination, enroll them in a common goal, and put change into action. Blu Skye gets system change.”
–Erin Fitzgerald, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy