Alliance views its carbon footprint

The Alliance Group has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% a unit of production since 2000 and hopes to help its farmer suppliers do the same.

The co-operative's chairman, Owen Poole, said it was working with consultant AbacusBio to develop a carbon and energy audit, and bench-marking system, to help sheep, beef and deer farmers assess their emissions.

They also needed to utilise opportunities found in the Government's mitigation policies.

Mr Poole told shareholders at the recent annual meeting in Invercargill that Alliance had met the international environmental standard ISO 14001 and implemented an energy management programme to assess the company's energy use, which included monitoring its emissions and overall carbon footprint.

Also, both Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are looking at opportunities to secure a source of sheep meat, as well as sell products, in South America.

"The region offers potential benefits as a market for Alliance Group and also as a source of product supply to ensure the company meets international supply commitments during New Zealand's winter months.

"More supply provides more control in the markets that we serve," Mr Poole told shareholders.

While New Zealand's temperate climate offered excellent conditions to grow food and crops, Mr Poole said the country was geographically isolated and meat production was seasonal and incurred significant freight costs.

"New Zealand's production cycle is generally seasonal, predominantly over a six-month period from which companies endeavour to service markets for 12 months of the year," he said.

This mismatch created market and foreign exchange risks, he said, which companies addressed by supplying frozen product.

Unfortunately, this limited market opportunities.

In contrast, most sheep meat in South America was consumed in the market in which it was produced, which meant producers there did not have the risk of storing product.

"They can supply the product fresh on a consistent basis. There are no long transportation requirements and, accordingly, freight costs are minimised. There are no exchange-rate risks involved and cash-flow cycles are measured in days rather than months."

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