Enjoying World’s First CO2-free Goat Cheese

Family values and legacies for sustainable business models
Enjoying World’s First CO2-free Goat Cheese Enjoying World’s First CO2-free Goat Cheese
Publ. date 17 Nov 2015
Family businesses are well advanced in terms of sustainability performance. A recent study revealed that they are more likely to value and implement sustainability practices, as a way to build family cohesion and trust, leading to a higher financial performance. The preservation of family legacies and values is essential in securing a better future for next generations.

Examples of  family owned companies that integrate family values in a sustainable business model are Mars, Auping, Bodegas Torres and Dutch beer brewer Bavaria, who recently won the 20th annual IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business award. Another example of a such a privately owned business, that recognizes sustainability as an instrument for long-term viability, is the Spanish organic goat cheese farm Santa Gadea.

Goat cheese: an organic and sustainable model

Santa Gadea is located in the Burgos, a Northern province of Spain. Centuries ago, this area belonged to king Alfonso VI, and under his empire, the first steps towards ecological cheese production were initiated. The location is characterized by its land of rocky peaks and valleys covered by bushes. In 2015, the lands and home of the farm give name to the finest organic goat cheese that is produced 100% sustainably and organically. The Pérez-Andújar bought the farm in 2002 with the aim to produce the most organic and ecological goat cheese worldwide. Nowadays, with over 1200 goats, and no usage of genetically modified organisms or chemical fertilizers, the family produces organic milk of quality that far exceeds the FDA standards. But what is it that makes this farm so special compared to other ranches?

A frontrunner in terms of sustainability: “there is no planet B”

The livestock sector is under scrutiny with food scandals and the outbreak diseases like bird flu and the alarming news on antibiotic resistance caused by cattle. The public’s critical attention is drawn to the sector with concerns focusing on food safety, food integrity, and animal welfare. Meanwhile, a much lesser known fact is that greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production are estimated to account for over 14.5 percent of the global total output, exceeding the amount of emissions produced from powering all the world’s road vehicles, trains, ships and airplanes combined.

Santa Gadea is addressing these negative outputs by running a bio-sustainable farm, which is a comprehensive business since it covers many aspects from the management of agriculture and livestock to the preservation of forests. Alfonso Pérez-Andújar, CEO of Santa Gadea, runs the farm together with his wife and help of his daughter. Alfonso believes that nature is a key element in this business. “If you want to really respect nature, you have to work with it and not against it”. The farm differentiates itself from others by working on material issues that really matter and that will help to create long-term value, economically as well as socially. To fully optimize organic milk production, sustainability practices at Santa Gadea look as follows:

  • Clean energy is generated via solar panel parks and a wind farm. The output exceeds the total input which is necessary to run the farm
  • Water is collected from rainfalls in the Ebro river and used in the production process. Additionally, water is re-used in the cleaning of the cheese factory which leads to a 50% reduction of water usage
  • The lands are reforested with more than 120,000 trees
  • Whey excesses, collected from daily cheese production, are stored and again used as a nutritious add-on to feed the goats. The organic waste created by employees is used in the compost process which results in a zero waste output
  • The usage of a natural fermentation of the goat’s bedding. Throughout the process of fermentation up to 50% of CO2 emissions is saved which would otherwise have been lost in the atmosphere
  • The implementation of a bacteria technology, also known as Effective Microorganisms, ensures the regeneration of soil and earth in a sustainable way

Next to all environmental aspects that are taken into account, Santa Gadea also returns industrial activity back to society in terms of employment and demographic growth. By running and leading the farm this way, the Pérez-Andújar family has a forward-thinking view that focuses on the continuity of its company, providing next generations of the family the foundation to run the farm successfully.

Driving value from material sustainability issues

If you are interested in learning how to turn sustainability into a key driver for value creation at your company, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, Managing Partner, at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Image source: www.santa-gadea.com 

About Bas Nuijten

Sustainability professional aiming to help organizations to continuously improve their sustainability strategies.    bas@finchandbeak.com

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