Sustainable Protein Production in Dairy: Less Farting, More Fat

Clean Cow feed additive to reduce greenhouse gas in milk production
Sustainable Protein Production in Dairy: Less Farting, More Fat
Publ. date 17 Mar 2014
As projected by the World Resources Institute, the world will need to produce 70% more calories by 2050, to feed its global population of 9.6 billion people. A major part of these calories will consist of animal protein: meat, milk and eggs. While alternative solutions will also make contributions to filling the food gap (reducing food waste, shifting diets), it is clear that the production of animal protein will have to increase dramatically in order to meet growing demand.

There are a number of concerns to take into account while increasing the production of animal protein. One of the biggest issues is the impact of climate change on agriculture. Estimated at an annual release of 7.1 gigatonnes CO2-eq, the livestock sector represents 14.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. The largest contribution comes from cows, with beef and cattle milk production respectively contributing 41 and 20 percent of the sector’s emissions (source: FAO).

Responsible growth of the dairy sector

In order to meet the increasing demand in the dairy business, protein value chains need to become extremely efficient, achieving a higher production with limited resources and a smaller impact per unit. One important process for reaching this objective is to make the cow healthier and live longer, so she is able to give milk for a more continuous and longer time. As a result the dairy industry launched the Dairy Sustainability Framework, which gathers major dairy companies and food brands including Nestlé, FrieslandCampina and Danone around developing a sustainable solution for the increasing global dairy demand. 

Innovation challenge: cow emissions are causing climate change

A specific climate issue arises when it comes to milk production. Cows release large amounts of methane, mostly through burping and dissemination during manure management, offering enormous potential for GHG reduction.

To tackle this market opportunity, DSM’s Animal Nutrition & Health business unit is developing Clean Cow: a solution for ‘cleaning up’ the cow from the inside. Clean Cow is a feed additive that reduces the production of methane by an approximated 25-30% in vivo. The energy saved by the cow by not having to produce the methane has the potential for better performance (increased milk yield, increased body weight gain).

But how to turn fat-for-fart into a business? The Clean Cow Business Model Canvas free to download

The proposed Business Model Canvas pivots around creating shared value as the problem owners in the value chain are not yet the ones benefitting from reduced GHG emissions. The feed additive is aimed at farmers who are the direct customers, but also at dairy companies and food brands who process the milk into their products and will benefit from reducing their impact along the value chain. Clean Cow proposition improves the milk valorization as it adds benefits in comparison to ‘regular’ milk and projected revenues will stem from direct product sales, additional nutrition services and, potentially, carbon offsetting credits.

As a result an important part of the business case is made by raising awareness for the issue of climate change caused by livestock, therefore evidence marketing and issue lobbying are key activities in addition to R&D. Stakeholder management, particularly with regard to partners such as governments and NGOs, is consequently also a key resource.

The key drivers for the Clean Cow business are in full alignment with DSM’s three major trends of global shifts (increase of protein demand globally and particularly in high growth economies), climate & energy (lower greenhouse gas emissions), and health & wellness (more milk yield).

Please find the Clean Cow Business Model Canvas attached as PDF file in the Download section at the top of the page. 


Is your company struggling with sustainability challenges and looking for ways to drive innovation? Please contact Nikkie Vinke, senior consultant, at or call +31 6 28 02 18 80 to see how we may help.

About Nikkie Vinke

Seasoned advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. |

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