New data collection

Second project phase: QM Sustainability module milk 2.0

The aim of the sustainability module milk is to collect sustainability data from milk producers. It was developed by scientists and practitioners. At Uelzena, the module supplements the sustainability management that has been in place at plant level since 2014 and, after a three-year pilot phase, is entering a second round in July 2020.  

The sustainability module milk supplies the facts needed to provide milk industry customers and interested parties asking critical questions with the necessary information on how specific sustainability aspects in milk production develop. At the same time, it supports the milk producers in recognising the services already provided in their businesses and identifying potential for improvement. A criteria catalogue and questionnaire based on this catalogue are at the core of the module and are used to collect data from the milk producers.

Positive conclusion of the pilot phase

During the pilot phase of the sustainability module from June 2017 to June 2020, this sustainability survey was completed by almost 7500 milk producers on their dairies across Germany. This equates to about 12 percent of all milk-producing companies in Germany. Out of the member cooperatives of the Uelzena Group, 443 milk producers have already answered the questionnaire, which is just over half of all producers. Here are the results of the first phase: Uelzena results.

The responses to the sustainability module milk received to date were largely positive. The scientific foundation, the broad and well-structured sustainability approach, the collaborative dialogue in the industry and the integration of many stakeholders were described as being particularly positive when further developing the module. The results of the producer questionnaires highlight that milk production in Germany already displays a high level of sustainability. As a result of the intensified industry exchange of information, diverse findings and experiences will be widely used for the benefit of everyone.

QM sustainability module milk 2.0 – the project continues

July 2020 is the starting date for the next project phase, which will be self-funded by the participating dairies. The majority of the dairies from the pilot phase and a few additional dairies will be using the further developed sustainability module milk. The questionnaire has also been updated. For instance, additional question and answer categories have been included and some questions deleted, in part due to customer requests. Several of the criteria evaluations have been adjusted based on recent scientific findings and the results of workshops with multiple stakeholders. Workshops at the end of 2019 involved representatives from various sections of the milk value-added chain as well as scientists, consultants and representatives from NGOs, agricultural associations and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

„We would take part in the survey again if it is useful for the sales and marketing of the dairy and takes us forward as a community. That’s what cooperative thinking is all about – moving something forward together.“

Hartwig Küper, milk supplier, Wittenwater

Adjustments have been made in all four sustainability fields (ecology, economy, animal welfare and social issues). For example, social issues will be expanded in future to include occupational safety, personnel management and social integration. It remains possible to connect these fields to the results from the pilot phase. Another plan is to significantly improve the communication about the QM sustainability module milk to further increase its public profile and acceptance in expert circles.

Once the new questionnaire is integrated in the database in autumn 2020, Uelzena plans to conduct a second survey round to maintain the continuous improvement process for sustainable milk production.