Finnish dairy manufacturer Valio has announced that from mid-September its familiar milk cartons will be filled with milk from free-range cows. The milk will be sourced from Valio’s free-stall farms across Finland.
The free-range milk is homogenised and pasteurised in the same manner and then packaged at Valio’s Riihimäki, Jyväskylä, and Oulu dairies. This alteration will impact Valio’s 1 litre and 1.75 litre cartons available as skimmed, low-fat, semi-skimmed and whole milk.
When commenting on this change, Valio’s development manager Mira Appelqvist said: “We want to make free-range milk available to everyone. That is why all of Valio’s familiar milk will come from free-range cows. Regular milk is our largest group of consumer products, and this will allow the milk shelves of Finnish stores to take a significant sustainability leap.”
The company is owned by dairy cooperatives consisting of 5,500 Finnish dairy farmers in which all operating profits are returned to them. Since the start of 2018, Valio entered a sustainability bonus programme which currently awards two cents per litre of milk to dairy farmers who have committed to responsible dairy production.
Requirements for the high standard of animal welfare include regular animal healthcare check-ups completed by a veterinarian, good care of the cattles’ hooves and the ready availability of anaesthesia, pain relief, and sedation during the removal of a calf’s growing horns.
In March last year, Valio announced it was discontinuing the use of soy in feed for cattle, along with the removal of GMO’s. Valio’s free-range cows are primarily grass fed with supplements of domestic grains and turnip rape and rapeseed. As well as adjusting the feed for cattle, farmers are to never give antibiotics as a preventive measure, but only as prescribed by a veterinarian.
“Animal welfare consists of many concrete actions the farms take every day. We believe that free-range milk will become the new norm. Sustainable milk production is not an option; it’s a condition for existence and a requirement of our operation, both ethically and economically,” said Appelqvist.
“We will also continue to do development work with the farms. About two-thirds of Valio Group’s cows live in free-stall barns, and that number continues to grow.”
Valio’s introduction to free-range milk is the Finnish company’s latest attempt in reducing the environmental impact of its products and follows its move to 100% plant-based cartons.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019