Incorporating quality ingredients created sustainably

Photograph: Shutterstock

For foodservice professionals who are working hard to implement sustainability initiatives at their operations, it can be tough to find comprehensive information about how food is sourced and how a certain ingredient impacts the environment. When that information is readily available, it makes the choice that much easier. When looking for great quality ingredients that support sustainability missions, REAL California dairy offers operators everything they’re looking for.

Over the past five decades—from 1964 to 2014—California dairy’s carbon footprint has been shrinking. In fact, over the last 50 years, it has shrunk by 45% and is among the smallest carbon footprint per gallon of milk in the world, according to a study done by UC Davis.

By sourcing products from suppliers who share the same values surrounding sustainability, operators can easily integrate more sustainability initiatives in their facilities. And as consumers continue to hold operators accountable for sustainability efforts, it’s key for operators to find suppliers that share their values. Here are some things operators can look for when choosing suppliers.

Fossil fuel replacement, greenhouse gases and other emission control

Foodservice operators should look for suppliers that are aiming to reduce their use of fossil fuels to deliver their goods. California cows, interestingly enough, will be able to produce 60 million gallons of fuel annually for heavy duty freight trucks, which helps to replace fossil fuel-based diesel with renewable biodiesel. What’s more, the renewable natural gas produced from dairy biogas is a carbon-negative transportation fuel and is nearly 10 times more effective at reducing carbon than using electric vehicles.

California dairy digester development is booming. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from these digesters is estimated to be more than 28 million metric tons over the next 20 years—equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from more than 5.9 million passenger vehicles.

Water usage and recycling

Water recycling and conservation offers big water savings for suppliers—in fact, compared to 50 years ago, the amount of water used to produce a unit of milk has decreased by more than 88%, according to the same UC Davis study. Dairies are focused on water recycling—using the same drop of water up to four times on the farm. Water recycling takes clean water, which is used to wash equipment and cool milk tanks, recycles it to wash cows, recycles it once again to flush manure from barn floors, and reuses it once more to fertilize feed crops for cows. This reduces the amount of fresh water needed to run the dairy, further reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farms.

Well-being of animals

Finally, when choosing suppliers of animal based products, such as milk and cheese, operators should consider animal care. The highest priority for California dairy farmers is the health, comfort and well-being of the animals entrusted to their care, and California dairies adhere to standards set forth from the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsibly Management (FARM) Program and other third-party animal care evaluation programs. The FARM program includes best management practices for every cow and calf on a farm, and every dairy farm is assessed through an onsite, independent, third-party evaluation to ensure integrity within the program. If a farm isn’t compliant with standards, the farm may no longer sell dairy to FARM-certified processors.

By working with suppliers who support sustainability measures, foodservice operators inherently carry over those sustainability initiatives into their businesses.

To learn more about how the California Milk Advisory Board is working to increase sustainability efforts, visit

This post is sponsored by California Milk Advisory Board

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