Leerdammer's Free Grazing Promise
One of the most important aspects of long-term sustainability is our ‘free-grazing promise’. We have a vision of ‘free-range cheese’ and although that’s not an official term, it guides what we do. It’s all about making our cheese in the best, most natural way that we can. In essence, free-grazing is allowing cows to graze freely in the fields close to our farms and dairies. Our Commitments: From spring to autumn, our cows will be outside enjoying the fresh air, grazing in the fields for a minimum of 6 hours a day, for 120 days a year. For the rest of the time, they are indoors. The Dutch climate doesn’t permit all year-round grazing: winters can be freezing cold and summers extremely hot – and neither are good for the cows. So, for some of the year, it’s simply better for them to stay indoors in cow-sheds. This has been developed in line with the recommendations of the Dutch Foundation Weidegang (“Stichting Weidegang”), which has set a standard recognized in the industry. Every single slice or piece of cheese which we sell is made from milk which comes from free-grazing cows. Working together: Leerdammer is made near the village of Leerdamm in a central, and lush region of the Netherlands where our 1200 partner-farms, with their herds of dairy cows, are located. We work closely with farmers to ensure the welfare of the cows & quality of the milk produced. For the farmers, free-grazing requires extra effort, but there are extra benefits too: The ‘Pasture Milk Premium’ – Our farmers get paid a premium of €0.2/per litre of milk. Training & Support – Our 1200 farmers can attend regular workshops to address practical issues. In recent times they’ve covered topics such as bio-diversity, energy efficiency and grazing. They also have the ongoing support of the network and our expert dairy technicians. Watch our advert about our free grazing cows here:
Environmental sustainability is a meaningful term here at Bel. We recognise that everything we do has an impact. There’s still a distance to go before we’re 100% sustainable, but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, for example: Water consumption in our cheese plans has been but by almost 1/3rd since 2008, and oil and gas consumption has been cut by over 40% since 2008. We’re continually striving to do better and put great emphasis on sharing best practice too. We believe that is the way we’ll be able to reach even more stringent sustainable development goals, and build truly sustainable brands.
Our environmental impact extends far beyond how we use our own resources. In partnership with the WWF, Groupe Bel has considered the full-cycle of our environmental responsibility. We’ve identified that around 20% of our cattle feed contains soy and palm-oil derivatives, which has implications for deforestation. For more information about the Bel Group’s sustainable development goals click here.