The biggest challenge that all of us are facing going forward is the challenge of driving towards sustainability, Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy has said.

Speaking at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) AGM in Limerick on Monday, she said that showing photographs of a green and natural Ireland isn’t enough anymore.

In 2011, Ireland was positioned as joint number one as having the lowest carbon footprint for dairy and beef in the EU, McCarthy said.

“So when we’re talking to our customers and asking them what their perceptions are, they view Ireland as green and natural, they can’t but [see Ireland as green and natural] when they see the statistics in front of them.

“But what they also say is that we have to prove that to them, because there are so many commitments being made the idea of just showing photographs about it anymore isn’t good enough.

“They’re now looking at us to prove it and to improve it and provide them with the data for that.”


Sustainability is now becoming a discussion we’re not just having at home but on political desks right around the world, McCarthy said.

The Bord Bia CEO said that Ireland has signed up and is committed to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the UN’s sustainable commitments.

“It’s now a case of how do we ensure we live up to those commitments, but also continue to produce food in a sustainable way.

“It’s not just a political thing, because all of the key customers that we want to target and are targeting also have made huge commitments with regard to sustainability.

“All of the names we’ve mentioned over and over again – Unilever, McDonalds – have made these commitments.

“Every single one of them is actually dependent on their suppliers to deliver on those commitments.

“When you look at it from where Ireland is standing, we already have huge credentials in sustainability and it’s something I think we have sometimes taken for granted.

“When you look at Ireland’s natural attributes, when you think of the fact that so many of the statistics that are quoted that agriculture uses 70% of the world’s fresh water, Ireland barely appears on a graph like that when it comes to our use of water.

“When you look at the air quality of Ireland, [and compare it to that in China], where consumers wear facemasks to protect themselves from pollution and you look at the air quality in Ireland, again, we’re one of the best in the world.”

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