Stephen Cadogan: Clóna brings Ireland’s unique SDAS to new benchmark

Clóna Dairy Products Ltd in West Cork can this week claim to be the first milk company in the world systematically measuring and improving the environmental performance of all its milk suppliers.

Ireland leads the world as the only country working towards measurable standards for dairy quality assurance and sustainable production, through the fully accredited Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS), and Clóna lead the way in Ireland, after announcing last Monday it is first in Ireland to have 100% of its suppliers accredited to SDAS.

The 100% SDAS benchmark, and Clóna’s situation in West Cork’s scenic environment, exceptionally mild climate, and unique terrain, open a new chapter in Clóna’s long and successful story.

The company has been at the heart of West Cork’s food sector for almost a century, tracing its origins to 1919, where its story began at Hurley’s Farm in Clonakilty. It was Munster’s first supplier of pasteurised, bottled milk.

“We will continue to work with farmers to innovate and remain at the cutting edge of sustainable and environmentally aware production,” said Clóna CEO Tony O’Driscoll.

The SDAS breakthrough enables Clóna play a leading part in ensuring that West Cork and Ireland are internationally recognised as world-leaders in sustainable food production, and remain strong brands in the face of Brexit and other international challenges.

And it is Clóna’s network of 41 farmers who supply Clóna with sustainable, West Cork milk who can take the biggest bow, for embracing the goals and objectives of sustainable farming. 

It’s a proud day also for the Clóna staff, and for the descendants of Charlie Hurley, the man who began providing the local community with pasteurised milk in 1955.

By the late 1980s, milk from Hurley’s farm had become known as Clóna Milk and the brand, Clóna Fresh Milk, was born. Since then, the heritage and tradition of dairy farming has been continued proudly in the Clóna products.

Advancements like this have enabled West Cork develop a thriving food culture and become recognised as Ireland’s home of outstanding food and food-tourism.

And it is only a matter of time before other dairies and co-ops, and eventually the entire Irish dairy industry, can follow the Clóna example and brand itself as the only country systematically measuring and improving the environmental performance of the dairy sector at a national level.

Credit must also go to Bord Bia, which developed the SDAS in close co-operation with milk producers, processors and regulatory authorities, to set out measurable standards for quality assurance and sustainable production, fully accredited under ISO 17065.

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