Cadbury Partners with Dairy Farmers to Shrink the Carbon Footprint of Milk Chocolate

Uxbridge, UK – With milk production accounting for more than 60 percent of the carbon footprint for its chocolate, confectioner Cadbury is teaming up with dairy farmers to trim down that figure – and a big part of the strategy is putting cows on a lower-fiber diet so that they "burp" less.

Improving herd health and welfare so cows produce more milk, more prudent use of fertilizer and reducing energy consumption by using timers or sensors – or by simply turning off dairy equipment and lights when not in use – are the other major action points in the pilot program Cadbury is undertaking with dairy farmers in the milk producer group Selkley Vale in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire counties in South West England.

The drive to reduce emissions from milk production is part of Cadbury’s "Purple Goes Green" environmental initiative, which includes a goal to reduce the firm’s absolute carbon emissions by 50 percent come 2020.

Cows should burp less on the Cadbury diet.
CC license by Flickr user Richard Cocks - see image at

In initiating the dairy project, the firm worked with the Carbon Trust to calculate the carbon footprint for its milk chocolate. And in drawing up the "Cadbury Guide to Low Carbon Dairy Farming," which embraces the action points and other farm management best practices, the firm seeks to bear down on carbon dioxide, which contributes to 23 percent of the emissions from an average dairy farm, methane, which accounts for 25 percent and nitrous oxide, which is responsible for 52 percent.

The greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows can add up: The average dairy cow emits 80kg to 120kg of methane a year, the firm says, citing statistics from the UN Food & Dairy Organisation. Those emissions, the company continues, are equivalent to the emissions from a year’s worth of driving the average family car.

The dairy farm pilot project is expected to run for at least a year.

"Reducing our emissions is an exciting challenge," Ian Walsh, Cadbury’s global head of environment, said in a statement. "When I started in this role I had no idea I would find myself in a field in Wiltshire discussing how to reduce the carbon emissions from burping cows. But it does demonstrate Cadbury’s determination to examine every level of our supply chain."

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