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Sustainability Focus
Six years ago, when Origin Green began its ambitious
journey, the relationship the Irish Food Board already
had in place with farmers through the Quality Assurance
schemes would be the backbone of the project. "We have
built on these," explains Michael, "but the whole area of
dealing with companies and the retail sector (back then)
was totally new. This was a key challenge as we were
starting with a blank sheet. At farm level we already had
auditors out with farmers, and Irish farmers have been
farming sustainably, by and large, for generations. What
Origin Green offered them was a structure to capture
what they were doing anyway.
"With the companies we needed to come up with a charter
and targets and put infrastructure in place. Getting the
momentum going that being in a scheme like Origin
Green would pay dividends in the future, that took time to
build if you are starting with no members it takes time
to build critical mass.
"Now we are active right across the supply chain, which
is a great success. We started with only seven member
companies and now we have 345, across all sectors. At
farm level we transitioned all of our Quality Assurance
schemes into sustainability schemes - so, nearly across
board, almost 90 per cent of product is coming from
Origin Green farmers - and by next year we will have
added poultry and pigmeat."
Another thing, Michael adds, that can be viewed as a
success is the level of collaboration that has been borne
out of this work: "We are finding that members are now
working together and collaborating around issues such as
packaging and food waste...areas of mutual interest."
"Also, over the past six years we have achieved really good
international recognition, from the likes of the World
Wildlife Fund and the World Bank."
Looking ahead
For 2019, Origin Green, Michael says, needs to continue
to grow and deepen its work with members at farm and
company level. In particular he says, there needs to be
more communication with farmers as to why the scheme
is of value and why it is important in the marketplace. A
recent move to team up with farm organisations, including
ICMSA and the IFA, demonstrates the commitment
here. The aim is to support farmers preparing for on-
farm audits and will also provide an opportunity to
engage directly with farmers on this topic. "We need
to demonstrate the value [of Origin Green] within the
broader context of overall exports: that if we are not able
In the six years since Origin Green was launched, the entire focus of Ireland's marketing
for Irish agri-food products in export markets has sharpened around the sustainability
agenda. Here, Michael Maloney, director of Origin Green and Quality Assurance with
Bord Bia, discusses the developments over this time and the challenges ahead
The future is green