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Ingredia showcases new “Via Lacta” milk range as demand for sustainably sourced ingredients increases

Ingredia were showcasing their new “Via Lacta” milk range at this year's Food ingredients Europe (FiE), held in Frankfurt, last week. The logo symbolizes the milk with a drop of milk, the environment with a tree and man with a smile. As a dairy cooperative, Ingredia is made up of farmers and are very involved in the processes associated with every stage of milk production. In order to meet current consumption trends shifting towards healthier products with sustainable development, Ingredia’s “Via Lacta” range of ingredients, comes from its own responsible milk collection.

All the products that are part of Ingredia’s line are available: whole and skim milk powders, milk proteins, liquid milk for retail or dairy products for industrial use (cream, condensed milk, etc.).

Via Lacta, Ingredia’s sustainable development initiative
In March 2017, Prospérité Fermière-Ingredia unveiled the name of its CSR policy: Via Lacta, which symbolizes the path towards an ever more responsible dairy industry.

Since April 2017, about a hundred milk producers from the cooperative Prospérité Fermière fully committed to this project by launching a separate collection of a more eco-friendly milk, aligned with Via Lacta’s principles:

  • Milk coming from cows only fed with non-GMO products.
  • Diet consisting of mainly grass, with at least 1,500m² (≈ 0.37 acres) of grazing area per cow guaranteed, for a minimum of 170 days a year.
  • Cows raised on straw in the barn during the winter.
  • A more profitable activity for the producer, thanks to a minimum price set each year by the cooperative as well as a 15 €/1,000 L premium for the production of VIA LACTA’s milk from grass-fed cows.

This series of commitments is built around 3 pillars:

  • Research and cultivate the value of milk with nature in mind
  • Ensure that the men and women we partner with thrive
  • Protect our planet’s future

Thomas LeVely, Project Manager at Ingredia said: “Sustainability is especially important for us because we are quite a small dairy company and we want to differentiate ourselves with quality production of milk. We call it ‘milk from grass-fed cows’ and we only focus on grass-fed cows in our area. So with our Via Lacta range, we called it ‘eco-friendly’ because we are focusing on three main topics.”

“The first topic is cows’ welfare, which is decided by three main criteria. The first one is the duration of grazing, a minimum of 170 days per year for each cow. Second, there are 1,500 square meters of grazing space per cow and we have around 50 cows per farm in our cooperative. The last criteria is that during winter, the animals are grazing on straw. Straw is the best way and the most comfortable, it avoids disease and there are studies that show that straw is the best way for the cow to be raised during winter,” he notes.

“The second pillar is being eco-friendly,” claims LeVely. “It means that with this program, we know our raising area and we know our landscapes. We also guarantee GMO-free feeding, so we have grass but we also have supplements – around 20 percent and guaranteed GMO-free. So this is an answer to the consumer’s request for clean label products and for free-from. It should be important for customers in chocolate because in chocolate they are looking for sustainable cocoa, sustainable sugar and, now, sustainable milk.”

“The last point, which is also very important for us as a dairy cooperative, is to support the work of our farmers,” says LeVely. “The cooperative decided to fix a minimum price per year – so for 2017, it was €300 (US$355) for 1,000 liters – and in addition, the cooperative pays a premium price for those farmers committed to this program. If it’s up to €300, they will be paid €15 more than conventional milk.”

This launch was also the opportunity to sign a 3-year partnership with WWF – France which supports this initiative. “We signed a partnership with WWF in April this year, and we are the first dairy cooperative to sign that kind of partnership with that organization,” he adds.

What were the main drivers behind this range? “The main point is GMO-free, for now. It’s really starting to waves in the industry,” claims LeVely. “When we asked our customers, we saw that cows’ welfare – as well as animal welfare – is becoming more and more important to them.”

“We often take the example of eggs, and today you know that poultry that is raised in a cage, today the eggs from this poultry are removed from retailers, from foodservice and will be removed everywhere before 2025. So we are really inspired by eggs and what happened there. So that’s why we want our cows to live outside, to eat more and more grass, to enjoy more and more natural feeding, and I think it will be a big issue next year,” he notes.

“Via Lacta is an innovative program we also work with the association for animal welfare to focus on this part, which is very important for our customers as well,” LeVely continues. “The main goal of this program is to improve continuously and try to find a way to have more sustainable dairy production and also lift our consumers’ requests and what they look for in dairy products – we really think that will be the future of milk and eventually, good in general,” he concludes.

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