We constantly require milk in our factories - the right quality at the right quantity at the right time. Farmers produce the milk on a daily basis and as milk is highly perishable, it is important to have the right infrastructure and logistics in place to ensure the constant supply of fresh milk to the factory.
The milk that we use is either delivered to our collection centres, directly to the factory or to contracted third parties. In many cases, we even collect the milk in milk trucks directly from the farmer. The price paid to farmers will vary according to the quality of the milk.
Our milk district model
Our milk district model is based on quality, safety, volume growth and cost. To achieve these objectives we provide technical assistance and in some cases even financial assistance.
There is no common approach as the farming systems and environments are very diverse. However, our approach is always very solutions oriented. For example, if there is a quality issue we have to address it at the farm level. As a consequence, we work together with the farmers to improve the situation, for instance, by providing veterinary services.
Improving long-term milk sustainability through RISE
RISE (Response Inducing Sustainability Evaluation) is an indicator and interview-based method for assessing the sustainability of farm operations across economic, social and environmental dimensions developed by the School of Agriculture at Bern University in Switzerland. We use RISE in dairy farming to assess long-term sustainability issues at farm level. This helps us to assess security of supply going forward, both in terms of quality and quantity. It also helps the farmers to understand where there are potential issues, which can be addressed jointly by the farmer and us.
We have carried out RISE assessments for 10 years and during this time we have assessed different farming systems in 18 countries, including four new countries in 2012.
Based on these assessments we have a broad range of activities that differ from country to country. They include, among others:
- Veterinary services
- Support to feeding / silage production / pasture establishment
- Water treatment and management
- Improved milk collection (e.g. solar panels at chilling stations)
- Animal fertility checks
- Support to silvopastural farming
- Biogas digesters and systems (where appropriate), and
- Incentive schemes for environmentally friendly farming practices.
As dairy farmers provide milk to us on a daily basis, we are able to build strong relationships with them. This also enables us to provide financial assistance schemes that support farmers in their daily operations and support them in doing the necessary investments. Out of the 31 fresh milk markets, 23 have financial assistance schemes in place.