Five stages model: improving sustainability dairy products

13 April 2020


five stages model

Former sustainability manager at FrieslandCampina, Jaap Petraeus, discusses his five-stage model to improving sustainability in the dairy industry.Many dairy companies wish to take steps towards sustainability, perhaps due to concerns about the state of the planet or because their customers simply demand it. But identifying an approach that works, and with proven experience, can be difficult. That’s where the five stages model may be useful.

Improving sustainability in dairy

The five stages model features five practical steps towards a mature sustainability approach that aims to shift the bell curve of a company’s sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs). Such KPIs can be chosen based on a company’s specific priorities.

The model is based on international standards such as the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 26000, as well as scientific research from the University of Utrecht and Wageningen University in The Netherlands. It can be implemented by small and large dairy processors, dairy traders, start-ups, and advanced users who already have been working on sustainability for many years.

The model includes the following steps:

  1. Commit to sustainability – endorsement of the Dairy Sustainability Framework membership commitments, including 11 criteria and minimum levels
  2. Prioritise what matters – implementation of minimum levels, including legal requirements and conduct materiality assessment, including prioritisation
  3. Set goals and act – implementation of plan-do-check-act requirements, and external assurance of a report
  4. Continuously improve and report – time bound targets endorsed by external stakeholders
  5. Achieve results – consistent delivery against these time bound targets

Each stage of the model consists of the essential elements of the Deming circle (plan-do-check-act), including five stages for governance structure and stakeholder dialogue. There are four minimum levels defined as a prerequisite, including human rights, animal welfare, deforestation and applicable legislation. The five stages model has the matrix structure that reflects all elements of your sustainability management system.

Model adopted by SAI Platform

The five stages model is adopted by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) platform. Here, large dairy buyers and processors cooperate to define standards for sustainable agriculture. Members of SAI Dairy Working Group aim to further develop the model to the verification requirements of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership.

The Sustainable Dairy Partnership was launched in September 2019 by SAI during the World Dairy Summit of the International Dairy Federation (IDF). It is already applied in practice at ArlaFoods, DFA, Glanbia, FrieslandCampina and Fonterra, to name a few. Nestlé, Danone, Mars, Unilever and other dairy buyers also use the five stages model to check the sustainability level of their dairy suppliers.

Dairy Sustainability Score

The Dairy Sustainability Score was created to support companies with the implementation of the model. With this digital tool, a company can determine its current and aspired maturity level on the model. Dairy Sustainability Support, developed the Dairy Sustainability Score, provides support with implementing sustainability in an organisation, based on this model.


Published by foodbev.com on April 7, 2020
Image by Shutterstock