Fonterra, one of the world's largest dairy companies, has become the latest processor to announce it would measure carbon emissions across its entire supply chain.
Fonterra said today it had appointed the University of New South Wales, Scion and AgResearch to measure the dairy co-operative's carbon footprint for its major products.
Regulatory and consumer pressures are forcing processors to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to portray themselves as environmentally responsible in producing their products.
Some regulators are even debating the creation of a CO2 label that would help consumers compare the emissions related to each brand.
Fonterra's research, which will begin immediately, will allow the company to identify segments of its supply chain where it can target CO2 reduction programmes.
Barry Harris, chair of Fonterra's sustainability team, said that by using internationally accepted methodologies, the company will be able to compare itself with competitiors in the global market.
"There is growing consumer and customer interest globally in seeing the carbon footprint of food products," he stated. "This research will give us some hard data to put around the gains that we are making through the environmental initiatives we have in place."
He noted that the New Zealand government's recently announced climate change policy will require companies to disclose their carbon emissions.
The research work will cover the three distinct parts of Fonterra's supply chain.
The researchers will assess the CO2 produced at the farm, covering inputs and outputs related to the production of milk up until it leaves the on-farm milk vat.
They will also assess the CO2 produced from processing the milk, including transportation from the farm, the packaging and storage at the factory site, through to the product loaded onto transport for delivery.
The third segment will cover the distribution of the dairy products to the consumer, including measuring the transportation of the product from the manufacturing site, to the warehouse and its shipping to key destinations internationally.
Fonterra said it selected a joint partnership between University of New South Wales, Scion and AgResearch because of their experience and use of internationally accepted methodologies.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has already undertaken an analysis of Dairy Australia's carbon footprint.
AgResearch's chief executive Andrew West stated that measuring CO2 output is complex and requires close collaboration between industry and research and development providers.
"Bearing in mind that on-farm emissions contribute the most to the total carbon foot-print of the dairy industry, we believe our proven expertise in carbon footprinting and understanding of New Zealand dairy farm systems will add significant value to the project," he stated.