In a statement today, Danish dairy group Arla promises to increase their awareness of human rights and the fate of local, small farmers when entering foreign markets, reports Politiken.
The heightened focus on corporate social responsibility comes as a result of pressure from NGO Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (MS).
“We are farmer-owned and our job is to sell and export milk in the best possible way for our owners,” said Astrid Gade Nielsen, the communications director for Arla. “But while we have a strong focus on responsibility, we must say that they [MS] have convinced us.”
This new focus comes at a time when the group is starting to enter many markets in Africa, especially its current start in sub-Saharan countries.
“We are a very small player in Africa right now, but we have designated it as one of the emerging markets we will focus on,” said Nielsen.
In 2014, Arla boasted 650 million kroner in revenue from milk powder in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. And the company has its eyes set on tripling that figure by 2017 by entering west and east African markets.
A flood of milk
As of April 2015 the EU will remove its quotas on milk exports and delivery meaning that European milk products will soon flood export markets, which will impact local farmers and production.
“If we get a giant like Arla to act differently and begin to support the local farmers’ production instead of outranking them, it could have a huge effect,” Frans Mikael Jansen, the secretary general for MS, tells Politiken.
The clash between Arla and MS began in 2011 when a report was published exposing how EU subsidies hurt dairy production and local farmers in Bangladesh.
Nielsen said that Arla is also interested in helping others in the industry to make the same types of agreements its made with MS.