New Zealand’s research unit DairyNZ this week released study results showing the carbon footprint of New Zealand milk production at a much lower level than some of the major European milk producers, including Ireland.
Make no mistake about it, the carbon study results are an effort to muddy the waters and gain advantage in a competitive global milk trade.
Imagine the conversation at product trade shows when Mr or Mrs Fonterra pulls out this study describing the carbon benefits of their product compared to any other product in the world including the Irish product, which is often compared to the grass-fed Kiwi milk.
Interestingly, the DairyNZ release suggested the New Zealand study has been peer-reviewed by an international specialist in Ireland.
Peer-reviewed publications never disclose the names of reviewers, so it was strange to see this comment in the press release. So with the game in play, I contacted Teagasc and DairyNZ during the week to get a bit more detail.
Nobody has come back to me yet from DairyNZ. I understand from Teagasc that the study results are not a fair comparison and the New Zealand study does not compare like with like.
A Teagasc spokesperson said they will substantiate these claims with detail early next week.
The suggestion is that if you compare like with like, there is very little if any difference between the Irish and New Zealand carbon number for milk.
Teagasc also confirmed that no Teagasc scientist was involved with reviewing the publication.
The other piece to remember is carbon is just one part of the environmental barometer, and while important, on its own is not the be all and end all.